On March 9, I received the following invitation:
- The Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn Middle East Forum
of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center
with Moshe Yaalon
Vice Premier, Minister of Strategic Affairs and Likud Knesset Member
Aaron David Miller
Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center
In the aftermath of the political change sweeping the Arab world, Minister Yaalon will share his perspective on how those events have shaped Israeli attitudes and policies on security, peacemaking, and relations with its Arab neighbors.
Thursday, March 24, 2011, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
6th Floor Flom Auditorium, Woodrow Wilson Center…
I was never able to go to the event. But today, I learned that it is now being described as “off the record”. Why?
Possibly because Moshe Ya’alon has been credibly accused of having committed war crimes in Gaza– most notably during the 2002 assassination of senior Hamas figure Salah Shehadeh– an act committed when Mr. Shehadeh was eating dinner in his own home and thus in no sense a valid target under the laws of war? (Eight children and six other family members were killed alongside him during that meal.)
There are many countries in the world that Gen. Ya’alon can’t visit right now, because of the criminal charges that have been filed against him in connection with that killing as well as the shelling of the village of Qana in Lebanon in 1996, in which 120 mainly older people who had taken refuge there were killed. Here in the U.S. no such criminal charges have yet been filed, so he comes and goes as he pleases. But really, is there any need for a federally funded institution like the Wilson Center to grace him with an invitation?
Or possibly, the Wilson Center event is off the record because Ya’alon’s views on “relations with Israel’s Arab neighbors” are still extremely hawkish, and to have any reporting of those views– as delivered in the U.S.-funded Wilson Center– could prove an embarrassment to the Obama administration as it is running around trying to make nice with so many Arab leaders?
On “hawkish”: Ya’alon has said that Israeli settlers should be freely allowed to colonize any parts of the occupied West Bank that they please, and has described the mildly pro-peace people of the Israeli Peace Now movement as a “virus”.
Anyway, as a U.S. taxpayer I find it very unseemly that this war-mongering, racist guy, against whom there are credible accusations that he has committed war crimes, be welcomed into a place supported by my tax dollars and there allowed to hold forth to a select group of invitees who are not even allowed to report openly on what he says.
What on earth is the Wilson Center turning into, under its new President, the unquestioningly pro-Israel former
senator congresswoman, Jane Harman?