Writing in the Guardian, Desmond Tutu and Michael Mansfield highlight the significance of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, which opened its third session in South Africa on Saturday. They raise parallels with the struggle against apartheid in South Africa:
We have visited Israel/Palestine on a number of occasions and every time have been struck by the similarities with the South African apartheid regime. The separate roads and areas for Palestinians, the humiliation at roadblocks and checkpoints, the evictions and house demolitions. Parts of East Jerusalem resemble what was District Six in Cape Town. It is a cause for abiding sadness and anguish. It revolves around the way in which the arrogance of power brings about a desensitisation. Once this has occurred it permits atrocious acts and attitudes to be visited on those over whom power and control are exercised. What such people are doing to themselves just as much as their victims should also be of concern.
Tutu and Mansfield write that the role of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine is to apply the standards of international law to Israel’s conduct in relation to the Palestinians:
These are all matters the tribunal will be assessing in order to ascertain what parallels and comparisons can be drawn. Whatever they may be, the ultimate objective is to consider the Israel-Palestine situation on its own facts and apply the norms of international law to identify three major issues. Have there been violations? If so, what are they and who is responsible? And thirdly, what are the legal ramifications and processes which should ensue? It is hoped that this process may contribute and not detract from the urgent need to progress understanding and peace, truth and reconciliation.
Visit the Guardian to read the article in full.
The evidence from the London session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine is collected in a new book from Pluto Press, Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation, edited by Asa Winstanley and Frank Barat.
More details about the South Africa session are provided by Frank Barat in an article for Electronic Intifada:
Following the Barcelona and London sessions, which focused respectively on EU and corporate complicity, the South Africa session’s topic will be apartheid.
A stellar cast (including Alice Walker, Mairead Maguire, Michael Mansfield, Ronnie Kasrils, Stephane Hessel, Yasmin Sooka, Aminata Traore, Antonio Martin Pallin and Gisele Halimi) will observe the proceedings, acting as the jury, and after hearing more than twenty witnesses and legal experts over two days, will answer the question: “Are Israeli policies towards the Palestinian people in breach of the prohibition against apartheid under international law?”
The jury will hear from individuals who experienced South African apartheid, fought against it and won. Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary of COSATU, the South African labor federation; anti-apartheid campaigner Winnie Mandela; international legal experts John Dugard and Max Du Plessis, and Professors Ran Greenstein and Pumla Gobodo Madizikela will give the audience an historical reminder of how the word apartheid came to be used in international law.
Visit Electronic Intifada to read the article in full.
Evidence from the London Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine
Edited by Asa Winstanley and Frank Barat. Foreword by Alice Walker
Damning exposé of corporate complicity in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land. A vital legal resource on this pressing issue.
“As we prepare for the South African session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, this book is an important, practical tool in the non-violent struggle against apartheid in the Holy Land.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
“A compelling and urgent read for anyone concerned about corporate complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.” – Omar Bargouti, co-founder of the Palestinian Civil Society BDS Movement