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Anti-Israel speaker delivers propaganda speech at Harvard

Harvard Kennedy School provide a platform for former PLO spokeswoman to feed audience lies

by Natalie Glanvill on 7 November 2012 16:58

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An anti-Israel speaker has delivered false allegations at Harvard Kennedy School lecture on Middle East peace process.

Former Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) spokeswoman and fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, Diana Buttu, “delivered a lecture that purported to discuss the ‘reality’ of the Middle East peace process, but instead disseminated lies to her audience”, the Committee for Accuracy in the Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) said.

During the event which was held on 18th October at one of the world’s most prestigious institutions of higher education, Buttu told her audience, “Qassam rockets don’t have explosive heads and cause no casualties in Israel; Grad rockets were not fired into Israel in the years 2008 or 2009; Richard Goldstone hardly retracted any portion of his eponymous report; and not one Israeli was murdered by a suicide bombing in Israel from the years 1997 to 2000”.

The Canadian-born lawyer of Palestinian descent has, in the past, made claims against the Jewish state which have been defamatory and false. In March this year, Harvard University hosted a “One State Conference” attended by many pro-Palestinian associations and groups which hold the belief that Israel is an “apartheid state” and is responsible for the “ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population”.

The claim made by Buttu that suggests Qassam rockets do not have explosive heads has been disputed by various media outlets and news reports. According to a 2008 report by the BBC on Gaza’s threat to Israel, “the [Qassam] are crude, unguided two-metre long steel weapons filled with explosives that seldom do much damage but occasionally inflict casualties”. The claim by Buttu that Qassam rockets inflict no injuries or casualties on their victims is a contradiction of a 2003 New York Times report which states, “[Qassam] rockets have damaged several homes and factories over the last 18 months, leaving Israelis suffering from shrapnel wounds, broken limbs, smoke inhalation and shock”.

Reports by both the United States Congressional Research Service (CRS) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirmed reports of Palestinian Grad and Qassam Rockets attacks on Israeli territory in the years 2008-2009.  Evidence of Qassam rockets being fired during this timeframe is evidenced by Izz-al-Din al-Qassam Brigade, the military wing of Hamas. A clip posted on their website and reported by BBC Worldwide Monitoring in December 2008 showed the “targeting of the Zionist settlement of Netivot with four Qassam rockets…the al-Qassam mujahids successfully fired two Grad rockets in Al-Majdal and Netivot”.  

In response to a statement made by an audience member about the retraction of the “Goldstone Report”, Buttu falsely said: “He retracted the portion that said that Israel wasn’t following up in terms of its investigations…there was two prosecutions, one was for credit card theft by an Israeli soldier and one was for property damage. That’s it.”

The truth about the retraction made in Goldstone’s report had nothing to be with card theft or property damage, it specifically involved the accusation that Israel purposely targeted civilians which was published in the Washington Post column in 2011.

The claim made by Buttu that no suicide bombing in the years 1997-2000 had killed anyone is contradictory to the event at the Tel Aviv café Apropo in March 1997 where three young women were murdered. When an audience member challenged Buttu’s claim, her response was, “[those numbers] were incorrect” and the three women in Tel Aviv “were settlers” and not Israeli women.

Buttu’s response to an audience member’s question of the Palestinians feelings towards accepting Israel as the Jewish state was handled somewhat unprofessionally.

“Putting aside the issue of Jewish sovereignty because that’s not really what it is focused on, the idea of creating a Jewish state… is to try to expel and get rid of and try to legitimate the expulsion of the indigenous population”, Buttu said. 

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