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Oct 26, 2007 at 12:00 AM

By Ghada Karmi
The International News - 10/26/2007

The newest and least attractive import from America, following on behind Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Friends, is the pro-Israel lobby. The latest target of this US-style campaign is the august Oxford Union.

This week, two Israeli colleagues and I were due to appear at the union to participate in an important debate on the one-state solution in Israel-Palestine. Also invited was the American Jewish scholar and outspoken critic of Israel, Norman Finkelstein. At the last minute, however, the union withdrew its invitation to him, apparently intimidated by threats from various pro-Israel groups.

The Harvard Jewish lawyer and indefatigable defender of Israel, Alan Dershowitz, attacked the topic of the debate as well as the Oxford Union itself. In an article headlined "Oxford Union is dead", he accused it of having become "a propaganda platform for extremist views", and castigated its choice of what he termed anti-Israel and anti-Semitic speakers.

Yet Dershowitz could have restored the balance as he saw it; he was the first person invited by the Oxford Union to oppose the motion but he declined due, as he put it, to "the terms of the debate and my proposed teammates".

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The Israeli military has unleashed its most vicious air assault against the people of Gaza in decades, killing over 280 Gazans and wounding over 700. Despite claims by the Israeli leadership that they are trying to avoid civilians the attacks have been concentrated on Gaza City and the towns of Khan Younis and Rafah. Israeli television reports that Israeli troops are massing on the border "in preparation for a supplementary ground offensive".

Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) condemns this murderous escalation of violence by the Israeli government. Diana Ralph, IJV Coordinator calls this assault "completely disproportionate to the unsupportable firing of Qassam rockets by Hamas fighters which killed one Israeli. It's important to put this into the context of the deadly siege of Gaza by the Israeli forces, which continued in violation of the terms of the recent six month truce between Israel and Gaza. In the ethics of violent conflicts, it is the responsibility of the force wielding power - the Israeli government in this case - to create the conditions for a just peace."

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