Pro-Israel android harangues students at US university debate

Pro-Israel android harangues students at US university debate
A university debate about the Israel-Palestine conflict was attended by a pro-Israel robot which allegedly attempted to disrupt the event by pestering students.
2 min read
14 March, 2016
Israeli campaigners have repeatedly attempted to put pressure on pro-Palestine activists [Anadlou]
A robot created by a right-wing pro-Israel advocacy group has been accused of "harassing" pro-Palestine activists at a US university debate.

The robot - built by Israeli robotics engineer Roey Tzezana - was wheeled into an event hosted by Browns University, where students and academics debated the conflict between Palestinians and Israel.

The face on the screen belonged to pro-Israel campaigner Sahahr Azani and the robot was able to move around the room freely asking questions and talking with students.

Ignored, it wasn't long before the droid began to display more aggressive behaviour, and a complete disregard for academic debate.

"[It] approached students and harassed them about why they were attending the event," a statement by pro-Peace Jewish student group Open Hillel.

Many refused to engage with this "bizarre form of intimidation" and ignored the robot. However, they continued to be pestered by the Israeli-built robot.

Open Hillel said this is the latest attack by right-wing pro-Israel groups against academic discourse. This case, they said, had a particularly bizarre and "dystopian twist".

"[We] hope [robots] will become more adept at navigating campus norms and behaving respectfully toward human participants," the group said about the prospect of more robots being employed by Zionist campaigners at similar debates.  

"We do wonder whether there might be a better way to promote open discourse than using robots."

Open Hillel is a university group that encourages discourse on Israel in Jewish spaces on US university campus.