Un soldato israeliano scrive al presidente della Oxford Union.

Ronen è un israeliano che ha deciso di mettersi in gioco in prima persona, affrontando il rischio continuo del carcere e soprattutto l’emarginazione, compresa quella di alcuni familiari. Ha scritto una lettera a Luke Tryl
Presidente della Oxford Union all’Università di Oxford, in Gran Bretagna, e che è stata pubblicata su

Israeli soldier writes President of Oxford Union

Ronen Berelovich

Luke Tryl
President of Oxford Union
Oxford University, UK

Dear Luke,

In spite of our differences, it was a pleasure to talk to you on the phone today, 23-10-07. Thank you for your openness and honesty. I am now following up with a letter to register my official complaint about the decision you took to remove Professor Norman Finkelstein from the "One state is the only solution for Israel" debate that was to be hold in 23107 at Oxford Union. I am registering my complaint as a private individual living in Israel i am a film-maker and a reserve soldier in the Israeli Army. There are a few points that arose in our conversation, which I believe would be of wider interest than just to the two of us, so I’d like to highlight them and to share this letter with Professor Finkelstein and anyone else interested.

To reiterate our conversation, you told me that the reason for the removal of Professor Finkelstein from the debate was the intervention of certain interest parties and people pressuring Oxford Union. You identified Alan Dershowitz as one of those people and you said that he had personally demanded that Professor Finkelstein should be removed from the debate. The reason being that with Finkelstein on the "two-state" side, the debate would be too "anti Israel" and "not balanced".

I replied that this debate was about a one-state solution versus a two-state solution; the two parties were to argue which of the two solutions might be best for Israel and the Palestinians. It was NOT to be a debate about being "pro" or "anti" Israel; therefore, whether Finkelstein was "pro" or "against" Israel was irrelevant. Finkelstein, like everyone else, has a right to be pro or against Israel and it should NOT be enough to exclude him from a debate at a place like Oxford Union. You agreed with me and you stated that this was what you thought as well. However, you were forced to drop Finkelstein due to the pressure exerted on you.

Unfortunately, with that decision you have demonstrated that "freedom of speech" in Oxford debating society is liable to be censored. You have also revealed a sad fact that even such an established and prestigious institution as Oxford, which is supposed to represent the highest ideals of the western culture, such as freedom of expression, bows down to demands of interest groups i.e. the Israeli lobby and Alan Dershowitz. I suggest that the only honorable way for you to restore your academic integrity is to officially apologize to Professor Finkelstein on his website, explaining what really happened.

I am not asking you lightly to stand up to what you believe in. I used to be in the Israeli elite paratroopers, but after what I saw and was forced to do, I vowed that I would never go back to the Army and act as a tool for enslaving 3.5 million people in their own land without any basic human rights. As a soldier refusing to go to the reserve duty (I am a member of the Courage to Refuse group of IDF officers), I live with the constant threat of imprisonment. You can appreciate therefore that I do understand ‘outside pressure’. I just wish you the courage to follow your own ideals and integrity, because as a president of the Oxford Union, your fellow students and intellectuals world over expect nothing less of you.

I wish you the best,

Ronen Berelovich

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