The Harris School for Public Policy at the University of Chicago presumably thought it was quite “normal” and appropriate– perhaps, even a boon for fundraising!– to invite former Israeli p.m. Ehud Olmert to give a lecture.
Olmert, however, is not just any old former prime minister. He was also the prime author of the decision to launch two extremely inhumane wars of choice: against Lebanon in 2006 and against Gaza last winter.
Israel’s conduct of the latter war– as well as a lot of other Olmert-era policies like the prolonged and lethal siege of Gaza and the continued attacks on the Palestinian community in Jerusalem– rightly came under severe criticism from the UN’s Goldstone Commission.
Judge Richard Goldstone, an experienced international prosecutor and investigator (and also Jewish and a self-proclaimed Zionist) determined that many of Israel’s actions against Gaza constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.
So why would the University of Chicago or any other university in the democratic world consider it appropriate or “normal” to give a podium to an accused war criminal like this?
Today, Ali Abunimah and numerous other supporters of the simple proposition that the rights of Palestinians should be protected just as much as anyone else’s rights were, as it happened, there in the lecture hall too.
You can see the series of exchanges that resulted in this great report on Electronic Intifada.
It’s also worth reading this piece of analysis by Aluf Benn in tomorrow’s Haaretz.
- Operation Cast Lead in Gaza was perceived in Israel as a shining victory. Rocket fire from Gaza was brought to a halt almost completely… “The world” let the operation continue and did not impose a cease-fire. A wonderful war.
Ten months later, it seems the victory was a Pyrrhic one. Israel did not realize that the rules have changed with Barack Obama’s election as U.S. president.
He also noted this about last winter’s war:
- The defense minister, Ehud Barak, wanted to halt Cast Lead after two or three days, but was overruled by Olmert who wanted to keep the campaign going, and then going further.
It seems that the accused war criminal Olmert is planning to speak at other US universities, too.
The University of Arkansas on October 27, for example.