Harak cooks JUSTICE soup

Tim Horneman

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Using images of injured and killed Iraqis — as well as his own experiences in Iraq — the Rev. Simon Harak told an audience why he believes that the war in Iraq did not help the Iraqis at all.

Harak, a former professor at Fairfield University, spoke in Cudahy Hall Thursday and at University Ministry’s Soup with Substance luncheon on Friday. Marquette Student Government, Jesuit University Students Together In Concerned Empowerment, the Arab Student Association and the Muslim Student Association sponsored the event.

Harak, who brought medicine to Iraq in defiance of American law while Iraq was still under U.N. sanctions, spoke about his belief that the means of American warfare had not justified the stated ends.

“The only end that (U.S. Secretary of State) Colin Powell went to the U.N. with was that Saddam (Hussein) had weapons of mass destruction, so they were a security threat to the world,” Harak said. “No other justification was given (for war) — just that.”

Harak contends it was not until after the war had ended that overthrowing Hussein, liberating Iraqis and the war on terror were added to the reasons for war.

Harak also charged the American media with misleading the American people.

“In order for a myth to work, certain things have to be muted, hardly mentioned, not talked about that much, silenced,” he said.

“These we weren’t allowed to see,” he said, referring to photographs of injured and killed Iraqi children. “They were hidden.”

Harak also spoke on the effects of depleted uranium, which had caused much destruction during the war in Iraq and was also suspected as the cause of illnesses in American soldiers and birth defects in Iraqi children.

He put much of the blame for Iraq’s suffering on the U.S. government.

“Almost every move (the U.S. government) make makes the situation (in Iraq) worse,” he said. Responding to a question, however, he admitted that he was not sure if the it would help for the United States to leave Iraq, either.

“It’s hard to imagine that pulling out would be any worse than being there,” Harak said.

He suggested an “international nonviolent body” to take over in Iraq.

Several students said the lecture had demonstrated many important problems.

“I was in Europe (in a study abroad program) and saw a lot of the images he showed (during the war),” senior Annie Collart said. “But it was very informative and spelled out a lot the government didn’t want us to know, and it showed how much we — as college students — still could learn.”

“We want to present what we know to people, and a nonviolent, peaceful priest was a good idea,” said senior Lina Al-Bitar, president of ASA. Harak “talked to you as if it was one-on-one, and you analyzed and thought about what he said. I’m happy that there were plenty of people here who heard a different viewpoint from what you’re used to hearing.”

“When we asked (Harak) to come, he said he would be a catalyst, and he was,” said senior Angie Gius, co-facilitator for JUSTICE. “He said he wanted us to ask questions, and I think we will. He’s just such an incredible peacemaker.”

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