Oxford University’s Balliol College has decided to honor Shimon Peres and the apartheid state of Israel by inviting him to speak in Oxford, and by planning to establish a lecture series in his name. Peres will deliver his lecture on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 under the title “The Globalization of Peace.”
Founded in 1263, Balliol College is Oxford University’s oldest college one of the most prestigious educational institutions in Europe. Many leading British and international politicians and thinkers have graduated from the college, and future decision makers currently attend it. Moreover, Balliol has a reputation for being one of the more progressive colleges at Oxford University. The immortalization of Peres’ name by such an institution should be a major cause of worry for anyone interested in promoting peace and justice for Palestine, in Europe and elsewhere.
Shimon Peres, the current president of Israel, is largely recognized as one of the founding architects of the Israeli regime. Beginning with his role in arranging for the weapons that were used to forcibly expel over 750,000 indigenous Palestinian refugees in the 1948 war, Peres has committed the past 60 years to the policies of apartheid and aggression that characterize Israel. In addition to heading Israel’s nuclear program, playing a key role in the tripartite aggression against Egypt in 1956, and being a driving force behind the illegal Israeli settlements that carve up the West Bank, he is the person ultimately responsible for the 1996 Qana massacre in which Israel bombed a UN compound in which over 800 Lebanese civilians had taken sought refuge, 116 of whom were injured, and 106 of whom were killed.
It is unusual for an Oxford college to implicate itself in such a fashion with an acting head of state, let alone with a representative of an apartheid state known for its commission of brutal human rights abuses on such a large scale. Instead of supporting the occupied and the dispossessed, Balliol has decided to reward the oppressor. In response, we must show our solidarity with the Palestinian people and our commitment to the Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) by objecting to:
1. The invitation of Peres.
2. The naming of a lecture series in his honor.
Please send your letters to:
Dr Andrew Graham, Master of Balliol
Please BCC cancelpereslectures[at]ymail.com
You could also call Dr Graham at 0044 (0)1865-277710/11 or mail him at:
Dr Andrew Graham, Balliol College, Oxford, OX1 3BJ, United Kingdom
The following points could be mentioned in your letters:
* The nature of Israeli policies (you could also refer here to international reports about Israeli ethnic cleansing, occupation, and apartheid).
* Shimon Peres’ tarnished personal record.
* How these facts threaten Balliol’s progressive record.
* The effect of rewarding Peres and other apartheid figures upon the Palestinian people.
* The damage that inviting Peres will cause to the reputation of Balliol and the University of Oxford.
* That there are many Palestinian and Israeli figures fighting for justice that Balliol could, and should, have honored instead.
Peres has been personally responsible for numerous crimes and human rights Breaches over the past 60 years, a small fraction of which is mentioned below:
* He played a leading personal role in the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine as the man responsible for purchasing weapons and supplies for the Haganah forces and its militias.
* He is the father of the Israeli nuclear project, playing the leading role in establishing the Dimona nuclear reactor, and thus introducing nuclear weapons for the first time into the Middle East.
* He played a critical role in launching the 1956 tripartite aggression (Suez crisis) against Egypt, a war that caused thousands of innocent casualties.
* He was implicated in the Lavon affair, a terrorist bomb-planting campaign against Egyptian, British and American targets that was carried on in Egypt.
* He was an enthusiastic supporter of the settlers/colonists that established the early settlements in the West Bank in the 1970’s, playing a role in creating one of the biggest obstacles to future peace.
* He was responsible, as the Israeli Prime minister at the time, for the Qana massacre of 1996, during which Israel intentionally bombed a known UN site, killing and injuring hundreds of Lebanese civilians.
* During his tenure as Israeli prime minister, he was responsible for a vast expansion in illegal Israeli settlements constructed over occupied Palestinian lands, and thus played a major role in derailing the prospects for peace in the Middle East.
* He was Foreign Minister in a cabinet (Sharon’s) that inflicted death, injury, and imprisonment on tens of thousands of Palestinians during the most recent intifada. Peres voted on many of the decisions that caused this dark outcome and supported without reserve Ariel Sharon’s militaristic and oppressive approach.
* He currently presides over a state that is establishing one of the most comprehensive apartheid systems in human history (using walls, trenches, checkpoints, electrified wire fences and brute armed force).
* He is the head of the state that currently besieges and starves the people of Gaza, effectively turning that occupied territory into the world’s largest prison.
* A master of Orwellian newspeak, he is known as the Israeli state’s foremost spokesperson. He vigorously defends his state’s policies and masks them with constant references to peace, alas a peace whose essence is war and occupation.