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Symposium on women in war biased

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, March 21, 2005

I find the headline from the March 18 issue of The Observer, “Symposium to debate women in battles,” about Saint Mary’s upcoming “Women, War, and Peace: Feminist Interventions in a Time of Conflict” symposium very disingenuous, as no debate exists in this program. Rather, it is a propaganda effort against the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Israeli “occupation” of Palestine.

I would even describe some of the speakers featured as anti-Semitic. For example, poet Lisa Suhair Majaj wrote a poem – found at www.feministpeacenetwork.org – honoring “martyr” Rachel Corrie, who was “killed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family’s house.” Imagery in this poem evoked Tiananmen Square and the students demonstrating for democracy and freedom in 1989.

Rachel Corrie had nothing in common with those student demonstrators, thousands of whom were killed or imprisoned for voicing their support for democracy and freedom. Corrie, contrary to the imagery evoked in Majaj’s poem, was killed while she was attempting to impede an Israeli bulldozer knocking down the homes of Palestinian terrorists and buildings hiding tunnels through which illegal weapons were being smuggled through by terrorists.

Additionally, Corrie was a member of the International Solidarity Movement, a terrorist organization which urges armed uprising against Israel. While Corrie did not ask to die in this accident, neither did the hundreds of truly innocent Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the suicide bombings of recent years, which are terrorist attacks akin to our Sept. 11, 2001.

Another work of Majaj, an essay found at www.afsc.org, accuses Israelis of violations of the Geneva Accords. In a region openly hostile to its very existence, Israel has for nearly 60 years been a beacon of hope, democracy and freedom while also acting as an inspiration to millions around the world. Its citizens have been victimized by terrorist attacks on an unprecedented scale for decades. Israel never launches military action unprovoked, it never deliberately targets civilians, and it has never lacked accountability when tragedy strikes. Accusing Israel of violating the Geneva Accords plays right into the terrorists’ playbook.

Perhaps the organizers of this forum – and the other speakers on the agenda – missed the free and fair elections recently conducted in Afghanistan, Iraq and among the Palestinians.

Perhaps the organizers missed the purple fingers of Iraqis lifted sky-high into the air after voting for the first time in their lives.

Was anyone supportive of the Afghan and Iraqi wars invited to respond to what looks like a very biased, one-sided program?

I fear that academic discussion is being stifled before it even begins if feminism is only defined in an anti-United States, anti-Israel and anti-democratic framework.

While I am very proud of my degree from Saint Mary’s, I am very disappointed in my school for sponsoring this symposium.

Lisa Budzynski


Class of 1998

March 18