Barak is not a man of peace, but an untried war criminal

To the Editor:

It was with shock and dismay that I learned of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s upcoming lecture on the Yale Campus on Thursday in Battell Chapel. Despite the cynical PR campaign to portray Gen. Barak as a man of peace, the atrocities and crimes against humanity perpetrated under his authority as prime minister and over decades as Israel’s most decorated war hero are well-known to every major human rights group both within and outside of Israel. His indictment and prosecution as a war criminal have just barely been avoided thus far. It is an ominous day for human rights when such a person is given a platform to speak at Yale, and doubly so when the subject, of all things, is ethics. Instead of speaking at Battell Chapel, General Barak should be attempting to defend himself in front of a tribunal at The Hague where the amply-documented charges against him would include:

The use of massive and disproportionate force against defenseless Palestinian civilians (including Apache helicopter gun ships firing antitank rockets on civilian houses, hospitals and schools); live ammunition used against unarmed civilians including women and children; assassinations; withholding medical care and targeting medical personnel and facilities; mass institutionalized torture (including children, and the operation of the brutal Khiam detention center); mass bulldozing of Palestinian homes, orchards and the diversion of water; the escalation in illegal settlement construction as part of the implementation of a racist bantustan (apartheid) “final solution”; and serial acts of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

“Barak’s generous offer” at Camp David, as people the world over know (with the possible exception of many in the U.S.) was nothing more than an attempt to force the apartheid solution on the Palestinian people once and for all. One can hope that when the general shows up at Battell the Yale community will boycott the talk but carry signs outside that instruct him to: “Tell it to The Hague”. In the meantime, the University needs to examine the source of funding and sponsorship for such a talk to see that it is not implicated in bringing war criminals to campus, and in the words of the massive new coalition of Jewish peace groups that formed this week in Europe to oppose the human rights abuses going on in the occupied territories now: “Don’t say you didn’t know –”

Rod Swenson MFA ’69

October 8, 2002

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