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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Protests symbolic of ailing peace process

Published: November 13, 2009
Section: Opinions

The_Hoot_11-13-09_Page_11_Image_0002On Thursday November 5, 2009, Justice Richard Goldstone and former Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold faced off in an educational forum. Justice Goldstone proceeded with his presentation without a hitch. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Ambassador Gold. Around four minutes into his speech protesters disrupted him, standing up and refusing to sit even after being surrounded by the police.

Not only did the protesters disrespect Ambassador Dore Gold as well as Justice Goldstone, but they also represented everything that is wrong with the peace process. They represented the lack of willingness—on not just the Palestinian side but the Israeli side as well—to openly listen to one another. In this case they claimed their protest was symbolic of their lack of representation in the forum. Yet the signs they wore on their bodies did not represent that at all. Some signs had names of children who died during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, but other signs read, “Hold Israel Accountable”, “Where is justice for Palestine?” and “Human Rights violations stemmed from the Holocaust.” To use the Holocaust to imply that Israel committed war crimes is extremely insensitive and degrading to the six million who perished because of hatred.

These protesters demanded a Palestinian voice, but, to quote Dore Gold, “If you had invited Palestinians you would have to make a choice on who to invite, a representative of Hamas or a representative of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah.” Hamas is the governing body in Gaza and a noted terrorist organization recognized by the United States and the European Union, among others. The governing body in the West Bank is currently Fatah, a corrupt government that stemmed from the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization), which was once considered to be a terrorist organization led by Yasser Arafat.

It’s true that there wasn’t a Palestinian representative, but at the same time, Justice Goldstone was extremely critical of Israel in his report. This was an event that involved a discussion of the report in a forum where there was a top Israeli official there to give Israel’s side—a side that is seldom represented in the world, the U.N. and especially in the Goldstone Report.

It’s also important to stress that Israel did not target civilians or act with malice towards the Palestinian people just because of their religious or ethnic denomination. The people of Gaza were not victims of “collective punishment” due to Hamas’ terrorist acts against Israel. They were victims of their own government that used them as human shields. Unfortunately, that is not true for Hamas. Over a span of eight years Hamas maliciously targeted civilians, firing Qassam rockets into Israeli towns on a daily basis. Where was Justice Goldstone’s voice then? Where were these protesters when the Israeli’s suffered? It’s obvious that not only did these protesters operate on a double standard, but so did the U.N. for years. When the Israelis suffered the world was silent. Their voices and cries for justice fell on deaf ears for eight years, nationally and internationally.

Ambassador Dore Gold was in no way unbiased, but he represented the passion and helplessness of the Israeli people. Even after he showed video evidence in his presentation, the close-minded group of people, the ones who had protested and demanded justice for the Palestinian people, left with that same mindset, completely unwilling to accept that Israel had done so much in order to avoid civilian casualties. These protesters had a complete disregard for the integrity of the event. They had a lack of respect for both Goldstone and Gold as well as for the audience in its entirety. They wanted their voice to be heard by undermining others.

But I want my voice to be heard this way: In a respectable forum and through my appreciation for all those who have dedicated their time and efforts in the name of peace and justice.