October 20, 2009

Coverage of Olmert speech misrepresented protesters

The Maroon’s coverage of the Ehud Olmert event was, in my opinion, completely disingenuous.

The Maroon’s coverage of the Ehud Olmert event (“Jeers Stifle Olmert’s Speech,” 10/16/09) was, in my opinion, completely disingenuous.

The article claims that the inside protests were organized by U of C student organizations, such as the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine (however, it gives no quote from any organization). As a protestor, I must say that it was not so much an organized effort as it was a matter of personal conscience.

I would like to remind my fellow students that although I’ve just begun my second year, both Daniel Pipes and John Bolton have spoken here in the last few months. There were clearly no interruptions because, although I believe a man like Daniel Pipes preaches hate and ignorance, he is no war criminal.

It should be clear to any person why we protested. It was not to stop Olmert from speaking; it was because he should be held accountable for his crimes, which include the bombing of a university in Gaza, the Ministry of Education, and the killing of students—more information on this can be found in the United Nations Goldstone Report. This is not a matter of the conflict between Palestine and Israel (which one can argue is “two-sided”), but of right versus wrong. We have a duty as intellectuals and members of this university to respect free speech, but not war crimes. As members of the international community, we should be ashamed that this man was allowed to kill so many innocent people and not be held accountable to the same laws to which we hold others accountable, be it Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, or anyone else. Moreover, as students of the University of Chicago, we should all be outraged that our university would dare invite such an individual to speak here, if only to lecture us on “leadership,” when he should be giving his speech at the international courts in The Hague.

M. Ali Al-Arian

Class of 2012