Alison Weir, an author and vocal critic of Israel-United States relations, spoke without interruption for nearly two hours Wednesday night in an event that filled a forum hall at Clovis Community College.
Tight police security surrounded the entrances as a precaution since Weir’s visit had been condemned by Jewish groups who call Weir an anti-Semitic.
But the event stayed peaceful on a night when Israel was witnessing a nail-biter election on the other side of the world.
Weir spoke about the decades-long deaths of Palestinians by Israeli military forces, and she shared memories and photos of her visit to the West Bank around 2000.
“I learned it was very different than what we were told,” Weir said. “People were being killed literally every day.”
Weir said American coverage of conflict between Israel and Palestine appeared to favor Israelis. While she found Palestinians to be welcoming to her as an American, Weir said she learned during her visit to the West Bank region that Palestinians were being killed in large numbers in a bitter fight over land.
In her first year there, she said, 131 Palestinians were killed to Israel’s 28. The Palestinian death toll has grown to the thousands since 2001, according to Weir’s research.
The information she provided Wednesday night is a focus of If Americans Knew, a group and website dedicated to distributing data on issues they say are underrepresented.
Weir is largely critical of American mainstream media for its role in what she says is disproportionate news reporting on the conflict.
She provided a brief history on the creation of Israel. She encouraged “anybody who is skeptical, please look it up.”
The speech impressed Laila Reed, a liberal arts major at Clovis Community. Reed said she agreed with Weir’s characterization that media is biased. She said she attended the event after seeing a flier, but she is also a supporter of Palestine. She said Weir provided information that others needed to hear.
“I think that’s what Americans need, to be enlightened and less ignorant,” Reed said.