Lawyer Defends Israeli Major's Arrest at KSG

A lawyer who issued a warrant for the arrest of a former Harvard affiliate addressed the need for human rights law reform yesterday in a speech titled “Harvard—Haven for War Criminals?”

London attorney Daniel Machover described his role in issuing a British warrant for the arrest of Israeli Maj. Gen. Doron Almog, a 2004 senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

A British court later withdrew the warrant for Almog’s arrest in September 2005, the same month it was issued, on technical and procedural grounds.

Machover, who holds dual citizenship in Israel and the United Kingdom, advocated the right of countries not directly affected by war crimes to prosecute suspected Geneva Conventions violators—using Almog as his primary exhibit.

Under Almog’s leadership, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) dropped a one-ton bomb in a residential area of the Gaza Strip to assassinate a Hamas leader, killing the target and his assistant, along with 14 civilians, including nine children, according to news reports at the time.

After the warrant’s issue, Almog landed at Heathrow Airport with plans to attend a fundraiser for handicapped children.

Before British authorities could apprehend him at the airport, he fled the country.

In yesterday’s speech, Machover did not dwell on the Belfer Center’s selection of Almog as a senior fellow.

The event was sponsored by the Harvard Society for Arab Students, Harvard’s Alliance for Justice in the Middle East, the Kennedy School of Government’s Palestine Awareness Committee, and Harvard Law School’s Justice for Palestine.

After Machover’s speech, audience members engaged in a polarized debate on Almog’s legacy.

Yitshak Kreiss, a School of Government mid-career student, said he had served under Almog’s leadership from 2000 to 2003.

“I feel I present the integrity of the IDF,” he said. “Doron Almog gave me orders to endanger [Israeli] soldiers’ lives to aid wounded Palestinian women in Gaza. Doron Almog is not a war criminal.”

One of the event’s organizers was Darryl C. Li ’01, a doctoral candidate at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences who said he was doing humanitarian work in Gaza during Almog’s command.

“As a human rights activist and a member of the Harvard community, I was outraged and deeply disappointed that the university had hosted Almog as a fellow,” Li wrote in an e-mail. “The violations commmitted under his command were all over the media for several years before he came to Harvard.”

A Belfer Center official did not return requests for comment yesterday.

Despite the audience’s clashing views of Almog, Machover wanted the audience to think about human rights law reform on an international scale.

“This is not an Israel issue,” he told The Crimson. “This is a universal issue.”