Champion of justice


POSTED: Friday, March 13, 2009

Ann Wright, one of the featured folks at Saturday's Gaza benefit, must have the Wright Stuff. Fox News bloviator Bill O'Reilly once invited her onto his show to discuss the Geneva Convention, and O'Reilly grew so freaked out at her debating skills that he cut her microphone.





        Fundraiser “;Rays of Hope For Gaza”; features percussionist Souhail Kaspar of Los Angeles, pictured below, singer and Oud player Rachid Halihal of New York, Hawaii-based musicians Anas Nasr and Qanoon, poetry readings of Mahmoud Darwish's works, videos of Gaza, including activist Ann Wright's most-recent trip, a silent auction of Palestinian items and tasty Middle Eastern homemade “;mezes”; or snacks.

Donations will go to Islamic Relief, USA; Middle East Children's Alliance; and Palestine Children's Relief Fund.


Co-sponsors for the event include Friends of Sabeel, Hawaii; The Muslim Association of Hawaii; Hawaii Jewish Voice for Peace; Global Ministry for the Parish of St. Clement; Church of the Crossroads Mission Team for Peace, Justice and Stewardship of Creation; American Friends Service Committee—Hawaii; University of Hawaii Departments of Anthropology and Ethnic Studies; Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Hawaii; World Can't Wait Hawaii; Revolution Books and Hawaii People's Fund.


» Place: Harris United Methodist Church, 20 S. Vineyard Blvd.


» Time: 5 p.m. Saturday


» Admission: $20, $10 students, free to children 12 and under


» Call: 947-5828




A former U.S. Army colonel who helped craft invasion plans for Iraq—plans scrapped by the Cheney-Bush White House—Wright joined the Foreign Service within the U.S. State Department in 1987. While there, she served in fun posts like Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Mongolia Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Grenada and Nicaragua. In 1997, she earned the State Department's Award for Heroism for evacuating 2,500 people from civil war in Sierra Leone.

On the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, however, Wright resigned from the State Department in protest, upset over the Administration's war-first policies and assaults on American civil liberties. Since then, Wright has been a peace-oriented gadfly based in Hawaii, buzzing around the world to reveal problems with American diplomacy and boost the cause of peace. She was one of only three witnesses to testify on behalf of Lt. Ehren Watada, asserting the war scuttles both the Constitution and international law.

Wright has been arrested at many anti-war protests, leading to a prominent place on an FBI watchlist of Americans who don't agree with the government. Her current interest, sparked by dissatisfaction with foreign policy over Palestine, is conditions in Gaza, the seacoast city that dates back five millenia. More recently, it was occupied by Hamas and blockaded by Israel, and the residents are in dire straits.

“;The sights we saw in Gaza were tragic,”; Wright recently reported. “;A goliath Israel pounding a small Gaza David with international silence and complicity in the 22-day military attack on Gaza and on the 16-month siege of Gaza. One thousand three hundred thirty Palestinians have died, 5,400 have been wounded and hundreds of thousands (have) memories of the bombings and invasion and occupation. Over $2 billion will be spent on rebuilding destroyed homes, businesses and factories. And there is silence!

“;I deplore the use of rockets against Israeli towns by Hamas and other groups in Gaza which have killed approximately 20 Israelis.

“;But, as a military officer who taught the Geneva Conventions and the Law of Land Warfare in US military schools, I fully believe the disproportionate response by the Israeli government and military in the smashing of Gaza is a violation of international law and a war crime.”;