March 19, 2012
I am writing to express my extreme shock and disappointment regarding B'Tselem's announcement as a 'proud sponsor' of an event in the US with Ehud Olmert.
As you are aware, Olmert is accused of numerous international crimes for his role in the planning and execution of Operation Cast Lead. These crimes are among the most serious known to the international community (to the extent that they give rise to the universality
principle), and have caused horrific death, injury, and suffering here in the Gaza Strip. Indeed, an arrest warrant has previously been issued for a member of his cabinet in relation to events in which Olmert is also implicated.
The quest for accountability in the context of Cast Lead has received significant international attention, and Olmert is intimately associated with these issues, not just amongst the legal community, but amongst the population at large. For a human rights organization to proudly co-sponsor this event sends an incredibly devastating message, not only to the victims in Gaza but regarding the rule of international law more generally.
I write this letter with a heavy heart. Our relationship with our Israeli counterparts is hugely important to us. These relationships are built on years of professional and personal cooperation and friendship, and have achieved some significant results. With the closure, you are our last links to Israeli society, and this is a relationship we wish only to nurture and further develop.
But we must also stand on principle. As an organisation we get our mandate from the law, and the victims we represent. I strongly urge you to reconsider this event. The message B'Tselem is sending out is incredibly damaging.