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Anti-War Committee stands behind disruption of Israeli war crimes apologist at U of MN

Calls on U of MN to honor boycott of Israel, drop the charges against protesters
By staff |
November 11, 2015
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Minneapolis, MN - Responding to a campaign of condemnations from University of Minnesota officialdom, the Anti-War Committee (AWC) issued a statement Nov. 10 standing by the actions of protesters at last week’s Law School lecture by Moshe Halbertal, who they call a “war crimes apologist.” Criticisms were hurled at the group after protesters denied Halbertal a platform by interrupting his presentation some two dozen times, with facts about Israeli atrocities, Halbertal’s public record in defense of IDF actions and demands that the university honor the international boycott of Israel.

Several law school professors have published articles or made statements denouncing the protesters. Having been denied space to respond to these articles directly, the organizers published the statement themselves, and asked supporters to take further action. They called for pressuring the law school to honor the international boycott of Israel, to withdraw charges against three arrested during the protest, and to drop threats of disciplining students involved in the protest.

Critics argued that disrupting the speaking event was not a ‘legitimate’ form of dissent, and that Halbertal was not an appropriate target for protest. In response, the AWC statement reads in part, “Halbertal is, in fact, a professional defender of Israeli policies. Given that Israel has never let itself be bound by the legitimate constraints of international law, or UN resolutions calling for change, it’s disingenuous to hold Palestinians and their supporters to arbitrary standards of ‘legitimacy’. Indeed, we are compelled to challenge Israel’s policies of apartheid and occupation, and its defenders, at every turn.”

Some have charged the protesters with anti-Semitism, but they deny this. “Palestinian resistance is not fueled by anti-Semitism, but by opposition to an occupying military force. Since 1948, Israel has robbed Palestinians of their rights to self-determination, land, and the right of return. And since then, Palestinians have remained determined to win their own liberation. We stand with them.”

The statement turns from answering these complaints to criticism of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). As a co-author of the IDF Code of Ethics, protesters charge Halbertal with giving legal cover to Israel atrocities. “Halbertal praised the Netanyahu government for ‘showing restraint’ in Gaza.” The statement continues, “The Israeli military used on Gaza the equivalent explosive force of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and the effects were devastating.”

Three arrests took place at the protest, including two organizers with the Anti-War Committee, and an attorney acting as an informal legal observer of police actions against the protesters. All three were booked into jail and held for some eight hours, before being released with a court date set for 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18.

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