Thursday, September 26, 2013

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? A War Criminal, That's Who!

"In his most recent tenure as Defense Minister, Ehud Barak has been on the front line facing issues around nuclear proliferation in Iran, Palestinian peace initiatives, and the Arab Spring.

The core of his effort as Prime Minister [of Israel] was devoted to the peace process. Significantly, Barak ordered the withdrawal of Israeli forces from South Lebanon. He led far-reaching efforts to negotiate peace agreements with Syria as well as the Palestinian authority, with the active participation of President Clinton and his administration."   

If one's only introduction to Ehud Barak was limited to the above  brief biographic sketch included in the Bon Mot Book Club's copy, it would perhaps be understandable why people would be interested in attending their upcoming gala  dinner-presentation at Vancouver's Four Season's Hotel.

Having interviewed the distraught mother grieving the death of her infant son, along with her little girl with chronic headache pain due to inoperable shrapnel lodged in her brain, I cannot remain silent in face of such a  hyperbolic, one-sided farcical description of a war criminal. Ehud Barak was Israel's Defense Minister when that country's military might  was unleashed on the encaged people of the Gaza Strip. "Encaged" because at the time of the slaughter of 1,400  Palestinians residing in Gaza, they were - as they continue to this day - prevented from enjoying the fundamental human right of freedom of movement. Over one and a half million people are confined into a 350 square kilometer space. The two-week bombardment of the Gaza Strip at the end of December 2008 and  beginning of January 2009 has been declared a war crime by the United Nations and the world's major human rights organizations.  Over-seeing this atrocity is hardly the action of a peacemaker.

The young documentary film maker who showed me around that ravaged urban landscape was forced to live with his family and eighteen others in a UN classroom during this so-called Operation Cast Lead. Thankfully they survived. Those taking refuge in another  school nearby were not as lucky; they perished when those classrooms were destroyed by Israeli fighter jets.

Ehud Barak, while Israel's Defense Minister, did nothing to stop the carnage of innocents. To present this individual as a peacemaker is to debase the concept of peace itself and to disregard those whose lives were either needlessly taken or else traumatized for ever.   

Vancouverites who stand for peace and social justice do not welcome war criminals into their city.

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