TO THE EDITOR:
I was very surprised to read the article "Talk on Conflict Angers Pro-Israel Panelist" by Jenny McLendon in the Nov. 10 Daily Tar Heel. The article claims that "Or Mars, director of N.C. Hillel, held the lone Jewish perspective on the panel." As one of the panelists, although I might have been on the panel representing Amnesty International, I clearly identified myself as a Jew, and in fact talked about how my Judaism and my human rights work were connected.
Further, while your writer focused on my quote on the media, she ignored the main focus of my remarks - while Amnesty has addressed human rights violations by many parties to the conflict, including condemning the recent car bombing in Jerusalem that killed two Israelis and the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah, our main focus was the ongoing use of excessive force by Israel.
AI's investigation into the killings, which have now exceeded 200, has found that in case after case, Israeli soldiers opened fire with live ammunition or plastic-coated metal bullets when their lives were not in danger. If the Israelis used internationally accepted methods of crowd control rather than military tactics, few if any Palestinians would have been killed. The Israeli authorities seem to be able to control crowds of Orthodox Jews who frequently riot without resorting to lethal force.
Mr. Mars spoke from his own personal experience about what he had seen and experienced in Israel and did not seek to explain or justify the actions of the Israeli government. Personally, I found his remarks very moving.
The issue in the current conflict is not one of Jew vs. Arab. It is one of justice and human rights. I urge your readers to check out our Web site at http://www.aiusa.org and join us in working for the human rights of everyone in the region. There can be no true peace without human rights and security for both Palestinians and Israelis.
Israel/Palestinian Authority Country Specialist
Amnesty International USA