Soldier Meets Student Opposition at Speech on Truth

David Maly

Israel Defense Forces Sgt. Benjamin Anthony discussed the realities of war and biased media coverage from a front line perspective during an on-campus speech Thursday night.

Texans for Israel, UT College Republicans and a media group called CAMERA hosted the talk, which both interested students and protesters attended.

During his talk, Anthony told tales of fallen comrades and presented true stories of his first war’s experience to the audience.

“It is horrific,” Anthony said. “It is really horrific.”

Anthony discussed seeing a dead body for the first time, camouflaging a dear friend for battle, watching juveniles write out their wills on tuna can labels and other graphic and disturbing incidents he witnessed firsthand. He said he wanted to convey the realities of war in order to inspire the room to take action for peace.

Anthony ended his speech by talking about what he sees as unfair media coverage in regards to the IDF. He cited several incidents of media bias to explain how this coverage can occur.

He discussed his unit breaking windows in houses they were staying in while in combat. They then used the glass, he said, to alert themselves to incoming deadly invaders by spreading it around the perimeter of homes, so that enemies could be heard approaching. Anthony said that an incident like this had been called “willful destruction of property” by the media.

“I can live with a broken window not a dead comrade,” Anthony said.

Dozens of UT students stood up at the beginning of Anthony’s speech displaying signs with the names, ages and dates of death of innocent casualties killed by IDF forces in Israel, some as young as seven months. About two dozen of the protestors walked out of the speech, and once in the hallway of the SAC they chanted, “free Palestine.” Others stood silently throughout the meeting with their faces covered to represent the casualties.

“We were representing the voices that have been silenced,” protester and Middle Eastern studies senior Yajaira Fraga said.

The protest addressed the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. Although the protesters made a statement, their efforts did not directly relate to the main purpose of Sgt. Anthony’s speech.

Anthony said citizens must responsibly examine headlines and not “lower our heads” to the complex issues. He said if his army can stand strong in enemy battle without lowering their heads, then we as Americans can do the same in our approach to approaching media coverage.

College Republicans President said she felt the protest overall had little effect on the speech’s result and called it, “a small 30-second interruption to an overall great lecture.”

“It’s not just an issue for Jews, Palestinians, Israelis or any other single group, but an issue for all,” Wright said. “It is one I am proud to bring to this campus.”  

Printed on Friday, January 27 as: Israeli soldier discusses his wartime experiences