Protest against Olmert speech in Chicago, October, 2009. (Photo:Tom Tian)
A few months ago we followed a series of protests that followed Ehud Olmert across the country as he tried to rehabilitate his image on a US speaking tour. He is still at it, and the protests continue to follow. This Thursday, Olmert will speak at Union College in Schenectady, NY and a coalition of local organizations are planning a protest.
In addition, Union faculty have opposed the decision to host Olmert and are circulating the following statement:
A Position Statement from Members of the Union College Community:
Whereas, Union’s Strategic Plan calls for graduating students who are “engaged, innovative, and ethical contributors to an increasingly diverse, global, and technologically complex society;” and
Whereas, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been indicted on serious corruption charges in his own country, has been officially implicated by the United Nations in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, and has also been implicated in the suppression of dissent:
We, the undersigned, hold that the administration’s decision to allow the Speaker’s Forum to invite Mr. Olmert was mistaken and contradicts the values and ethics of Union College. We reject the argument that Mr. Olmert’s visit is simply that of a “controversial” individual. We reject the logic that validates such a position, and hold it to be irrational and inconsistent with the intellectual climate we hope to create. Mr. Olmert’s appearance at Union does not contribute to the free exchange of ideas. On the contrary, closed to the general public, under the pall of heavy security, and with questions vetted by moderators, this event seems to limit and stifle opposing viewpoints a set of conditions inconsistent with our tradition of academic freedom. Furthermore, we deplore the significant negative impact this event will have on Union’s academic reputation on the local, national, and international levels. We go on record strongly against this decision to invite Mr. Olmert to speak at Union College, and urge that the event be cancelled.
Anyone wishing to sign this statement is invited to contact any of us listed below to be added to the list of supporters. We are compelled by our consciences to circulate this position statement within the Union College community and beyond.