Film Screening: "The Lobby USA"
View a screening of "The Lobby USA" and engage in a Skype discussion with Summer Awad.
Date: October 14, 2019 - October 14, 2019
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Basil 135
Hosted by the School of Arts and Sciences and the International Studies Program
"The Lobby USA" describes an undercover investigation by Al Jazeera into Israelʼs covert influence campaign in the US and their relationship to suppress the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement, with special emphasis on discrediting college campus activists in the United States, as well as general influence in the US political system.
Through a series of hidden camera conversations with Al Jazeera undercover reporter Tony Kleinfeld, tactics of US-based pro-Israel groups are revealed. Operatives from The Israel Project, Israel on Campus Coalition, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and other groups freely describe their approaches to influencing politics in the United States and pushing back against the BDS movement on college campuses.
Old school tactics such as blackmail, disinformation, rumors, and sabotage have been supplemented on campus by modern era social media techniques involving ‘personal attack websitesʼ in conjunction with organized Twitter and other social media campaigns. Students and professors who were the targets of such personal smear campaigns describe their experiences. Seen against the backdrop where social media have been increasingly used by various foreign governments to try to influence elections, this film is a chilling echo.
Summer Awad appears in "The Lobby USA" to describe how she was targeted by pro-Israel groups on Twitter and through her employer. Summer is a playwright, poet, and activist from Knoxville, Tennessee. Her father was born in Nablus in the West Bank, Palestine, in 1962. Her mother is from Bloomington Springs, Tennessee. Summerʼs bicultural upbringing inspired her to learn about Palestinian history and become involved in pro-Palestine organizing during her time at the University of Tennessee.
Summer completed her undergraduate degree in 2016 with a major in Literary Activism, culminating in the production of her semi-autobiographical play called WALLS: A Play for Palestine. The play, which details Palestinian history and calls for an end to the Israeli occupation, premiered at the Clarence Brown LAB Theatre on UT campus in January 2016. It has since been performed at the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival, at St. Josephʼs College in Brooklyn, NY, and again at Modern Studio in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was this play that led to Summerʼs profiling on Canary Missionʼs website and her inclusion in "The Lobby."
Summer currently lives in Knoxville and works as a case manager with Bridge Refugee Services. She writes and performs poetry and was most recently published in Exposition Review. She is still involved in activism and organizing through the Knoxville City Council Movement, which seeks to elect progressive leaders to local government.