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Israel called the Gaza operation of 2008-2009 “Operation Cast Lead.” Current
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren was an Israeli military
spokesperson during that war. Following are a few examples of war crimes
committed by Israel during the Gaza operation, detailed in the Goldstone
report. Following these examples are some of Michael Oren’s defenses of
Israeli actions in Gaza.

From the Goldstone Report:

“On 15 January 2009, the field office compound of the United Nations Relief
and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in
Gaza City came under shelling with high explosive and white phosphorous
munitions. The Mission notes that the attack was extremely dangerous, as the BRANDEIS COMMENCEMENT 2010
compound offered shelter to between 600 and 700 civilians and contained a
huge fuel depot. The Israeli armed forces continued their attack over several
hours despite having been fully alerted to the risks they created. The Mission
concludes that the Israeli armed forces violated the requirement under
customary international law to take all feasible precautions in the choice of
Sunday May 23, 2010
means and method of attack with a view to avoiding and in any event
minimizing incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to
civilian objects...

“The Mission also finds that, on the same day, the Israeli armed forces
Brandeis University
directly and intentionally attacked al-Quds hospital in Gaza City and the
adjacent ambulance depot with white phosphorous shells. The attack caused
fires which took a whole day to extinguish and caused panic among the sick Israeli Ambassador
and wounded who had to be evacuated. The Mission finds that no warning
was given at any point of an imminent strike. On the basis of its
investigation, the Mission rejects the allegation that fire was directed at the
Israeli armed forces from within the hospital...
“The Mission also examined the intense artillery attacks, again including Honorary Degree Recipient and
white phosphorous munitions, on al-Wafa hospital in eastern Gaza City, a Commencement Speaker
facility for patients receiving long-term care and suffering from particularly
serious injuries. On the basis of the information gathered, the Mission found
a violation of the prohibition of attacks on civilian hospitals in both cases.
The Mission also highlights that the warnings given by leaflets and pre-
recorded phone messages in the case of al-Wafa hospital demonstrate the
complete ineffectiveness of certain kinds of routine and generic warnings.” Brandeis: Sustaining intellectual
arguments for the colonization of
Michael Oren’s Response to the Goldstone Report: Palestine since 1948
“Israel does its utmost to avoid inflicting civilian casualties during military
operations...We investigated numerable complaints of irregularities. The
army was cleared of virtually all of them...I think this report creates a
problem not just for Israel, but for all free democracies in the world. It's a
victory for terror.” (from PBS interview with Gwen Ifill, 9/15/09)


Chairman of the Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health Today’s commencement speaker and
and Social Medicine, Professor of Medical Anthropology at Harvard honorary degree recipient, Michael
University, and attending physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dr. Oren, is currently the Israeli
Farmer is one of the world’s most influential and important thinkers and Ambassador to the United States.  A
activists in the field of medicine. well-known academic who contributes
regularly to The New Republic, Oren
Among his many accomplishments, far too many to list here, Dr. Farmer in has most recently served as a “media
1987 co-founded Partners in Health, a worldwide health organization with relations expert” for the Israeli
hospitals and clinics in Haiti, Russia, Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi and Peru. government during its 2006 war on
The Partners in Health hospital in Haiti provides free treatment to patients, Lebanon and its military incursion into
and helps patients living in poverty gain access to effective treatments for the Gaza Strip in 2008-09.  In his
tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. official role as media relations expert,
Oren effectively defended the Israeli
Co-founder and Board Member of the Institute for Justice and Democracy military’s widespread and systematic
in Haiti, Dr. Famer was appointed Deputy UN Special Envoy for Haiti by war crimes in both military offensives. 
President Clinton. If Brandeis wanted to live up to its social justice Particularly in reference to the war on
mission, choosing Dr. Farmer to give the commencement speech would Gaza, Oren justified Israel’s deliberate
have made sense, especially in light of the recent earthquake in Haiti. targeting of civilians and devastation of
such mundane civilian infrastructure as
day schools, university dormitories, mosques, sewage systems, chicken
farms and flour factories as “legitimate self-defense.”  In part because of
American singer songwriter Paul Simon has won 13 Grammy Awards, Oren’s efforts, the use of white phosphorus on civilians to burn them alive
including the Lifetime Achievement Award. Formerly of the enormously is no longer questioned as a legitimate military tactic by the mainstream
popular duo Simon & Garfunkel, Simon took his career solo in 1970. Western press, particularly if the war is waged in the name of state
sovereignty and security.  Moreover, Oren is extremely effective at
In 1986, Simon released his most popular album to date, Graceland. disarming critics of Israel and Israeli war crimes, largely by portraying these
Written and recorded in South Africa during the waning years of the critics as anti-Semites, self-hating Jews, un-serious crazies, or—as in the case
Apartheid regime in that country, some anti-apartheid groups criticized his of Judge Richard Goldstone, lead researcher for the UN’s investigation into
travelling to South Africa in spite of the boycott. But other anti-apartheid Israel’s atrocities during the Gaza offensive—by accusing the Jewish and
activists and the UN Anti-Apartheid Committee supported his decision Zionist jurist of going “further than Ahmadinejad and the Holocaust
because the South African government did not benefit from Simon’s visit deniers.”
and because he worked with and gave an international stage to many  
talented but unknown black South African musicians. In his role as Israeli ambassador to the United States, Oren serves at the
pleasure of Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman, the founder and leader of
Graceland became an anthem of the anti-apartheid movement, and the the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party in Israel.  Lieberman is well-known for,
album went to #1 in the UK and to #3 in the US. It won album of the year among other things, proposing that Arab citizens of Israel be required to
at the Grammys in 1986, and the title track won record of the year in 1987. take loyalty oaths  to the state of Israel or else lose their right to vote, and
In passing over Simon as a commencement speaker, Brandeis wasted a openly advocates segregation between Israelis and Palestinians and the
great opportunity to hear from a man with historical connections to a great, forcible transfer of Palestinians.  That Oren serves under Lieberman is
global Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions movement for justice. entirely fitting.  Oren’s ability to justify the military aggressions that are the
sequelae of such racist views, repeatedly and in multiple public spheres,
attest to his tenacity and singular diplomatic virtuosity.  Above all, however,
VISIT US ON THE WEB it is for his astounding talent to twist oppression into
victimhood, that we honor him today.
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