By Meredith Aby | February 12, 2014
Minneapolis, MN – Activists from the MN Anti-War Committee, Students for a Democratic Society at the U of MN, Women Against Military Madness, Veterans for Peace, and the Coalition for Palestinian Rights protested the impact of the U.S. use of drones around the world, Feb.11, at the University of Minnesota Law School. Inside the Law School, Oren Gross, a former senior officer in the Israeli Defense Force’s JAG Corps, the legal branch of the Israeli military, gave a presentation titled, “The New Way of War: Is There a Duty to Use Drones?” as a part of the Law School’s spring lecture series.
Sophia Hansen-Day, of the MN Anti-War Committee, explained, “In Israel, Oren Gross worked to give legal and political cover to human rights violations by the Israel Defense Forces in occupied Palestine. Today, as an advisory board member of the U of M Human Rights program, he is using his prestige to justify the U.S.’s ongoing drone killings abroad. Our action was organized to challenge Dr. Gross’s absurd interpretation of international law.”
Before the speech by Gross, protesters held signs and passed out hundreds of flyers on the reality of drone warfare. Doors to the presentation were guarded by campus police, who refused to allow protesters to bring signs inside. Even so, a couple dozen community members joined the hundred or so people there for the lecture.
In a weak attempt to make himself more likeable, Gross opened with a few jokes and cartoons. His winding talk was full of quotes by politicians, largely void of concrete data and lacking in concern for human life. Finally getting to the point, he closed with the claim that drones are an advance in weapons technology, saying, “Drones offer a more accurate and therefore more humane warfare.”
At that point, questions were invited from the audience. Gross ducked many of them, limiting his comments to the use of drones by the U.S. Army in an active combat zone. He refused to answer questions about U.S. war policy, or the use of drones to carry out extrajudicial assassinations, or even domestic surveillance.
Jess Sundin, also of the Anti-War Committee, attended the talk. “It was a revolting attempt to sanitize the reality of war, by drones or any means. Most of the questions challenged him and his point of view – it was clear that Gross did not convince anyone that there is some ethical duty to use these remote control killing machines, on the battlefield or anywhere else. Drones are deadly weapons of war. U.S. wars for empire don’t need ‘more accurate’ weapons. They need to be stopped.”