Tribunal Weighs Crimes on Palestine

A “peoples” tribunal, modeled after an examination of U.S. war crimes in Vietnam, is exploring Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians. Meeting in New York City, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine sometimes was legalistic but addressed frequently ignored issues, says Danny Schechter.

By Danny Schechter

The needs and concerns of the Palestinian people are not in the news much in the United States, even though the issues have been around for decades in New York City, which hosts the United Nations.

There have been many detailed studies of media coverage that prove that the U.S. media rarely covers Palestinian concerns or features Palestinian perspectives in talk shows or news programs unless and until violence erupts.

The late Bertrand Russell, the philosopher and pacifist who inspired the concept of "peoples tribunals" on international crimes.'

Criticisms of Israeli behavior raised by foreign leaders are also largely ignored unless they are cast as controversies about noisy and sometimes invented allegations of anti-Semitism, rather than any exploration of the underlying issues of international law violations and apartheid-like abuses in the territories occupied by Israel.

Advocates of Palestinian rights and critics of violations of international law seek, often without much success, to call attention to oppressive realities on the ground but not just in an ideological debate. They want to change a U.S. policy that often marches in lockstep with Israel, in part, because of the power of the Israeli Lobby and regional military calculations.

One of the more visible organizations trying to fill the gap is the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, an “international peoples” tribunal modeled on the initiative by the late British philosopher, Lord Bertrand Russell, an esteemed lecturer, author and moral leader who first created the Tribunal concept in the 1960s to feature well-known intellectuals to expose war crimes in Vietnam.

I covered that event when it took place in Stockholm with a jury made up of the likes of Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Swedish playwright Peter Weiss and American anti-war activist David Dellinger among other cultural and political luminaries.

It drew global attention and denunciations by the U.S. government and media when Vietnamese witnesses testified about the chemical defoliation of their country, and systematic and often deadly human rights abuses.

I remember American TV correspondent Morley Safer doing a “stand-up” – after one session when the audience had left – denouncing the Tribunal’s allegations of U.S. war crimes and dismissing the Tribunal as nothing but communist propaganda.

Thirty years later, his own news magazine, “60 Minutes,” carried reports confirming that there were indeed brutal atrocities being committed in places like My Lai where American soldiers slaughtered innocent civilians including many children. Had Safer not been so eager to discredit Vietnamese experiences back then, something might have been done about the abuses or at least made them known.

Today, the Russell Tribunal is focusing on “the complicity and responsibility of various, national and international and corporate acts and the perpetuation of Israel’s impunity under international law.” It seeks to provide a platform for “international personalities who advocate for an end to Israeli occupation and the denial of Palestinian rights.”

It met this past weekend in The Great Hall of Cooper Union where President Abraham Lincoln debated his political adversary in 1860 just as the momentum toward the Civil War was building steam.

The packed event in New York followed earlier sessions in Barcelona (focused on EU complicity), London (on corporate complicity), and in Cape Town likening Israeli policies to apartheid-era crimes in South Africa.

South African supporters of Israel mounted an angry protest that drew major media attention. Perhaps that’s why the often vociferous pro-Israel lobby in New York stayed away this time, hoping the Tribunal and its findings would be ignored. Perhaps, their members were exhausted by days of screaming at the United Nations.

The jury this time included former South African Intelligence Minister and Liberation movement leader Ronnie Kasrils; South African lawyer John Dugard; writer Alice Walker, activist Angela Davis and former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney as well as luminaries from Europe like 94-year-old peace proponent Stephane Hessel and Native American leader Dennis Banks.

On the first day of the two-day session, the jury heard testimony from Israeli historian Ilan Pappe on the origins of Zionism and its commitment to expel Palestinians before the State of Israel was even born.

There were many legal experts on the role of the UN in providing help to Palestinian refugees but rarely defending Palestinian rights. Speaker after speaker denounced the UN for going through the motions and abandoning its mandate because of Israeli and US pressure.

One speaker said the UN had become a “cruel joke” when it came to fulfilling its obligations to Palestinians over the decades.

The audience was cautioned not to applaud and so the whole event tended to be passionless, academic and legalistic. There were long lectures on legal precedents that the lawyers in the room might have appreciated but put some people around me to sleep.

Ironically, no Palestinians spoke at a Tribunal on Palestine on day one. Noam Chomsky who was due Sunday apparently came down with laryngitis and had to appear via Skype. The image was as dark as his cough-disrupted presentation that warned the situation is “bleak.”

On Sunday, there were more details of Israel’s history of subjugating Palestinians, evicting them from their villages and then destroying their houses, as if to wipe out any evidence of their existence.

There were presentations on crimes like “ethnic cleansing” and blatant discrimination, a denial of rights and illegal restrictions to criminalize the population and wipe out its identity as a majority group which was turned into a minority in a colonized environment.

In the afternoon, there was what was described as a “library of anguish,” droning presentations by international lawyers making a case of the need for the international community to oppose a disgraceful military occupation, which finally culminated in a lively debate.

The lone Palestinian “witness,” Saleh Hamayel, argued that the situation has to be reframed because it is unique, not quite genocide nor an analogue of apartheid because the whole of Palestinian society is being destroyed intentionally. He offered the concept of “sociocide” as worthy of being considered a crime.

Others disagreed, noting that apartheid is already considered a crime against humanity that can be used as a basis for international action. There was a heated back and forth with most agreeing that both concepts could be invoked even though only one enjoys the support of international law.

One issue I missed: The corruption and collusion of the Palestine Authority with U.S. and Israeli negotiators. See Clayon E. Swisher’s revealing book, The Palestine Papers for documentation of the story he broke on AlJazeera.

A highpoint of the Tribunal was the brief appearance of the parents of American anti-occupation activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death by an Israeli army earth-moving machine. They insisted there had been no proper investigation as requested by the President of the United States, and they condemned an Israeli court for exonerating the Army

Zwelinzima Vavi, the General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, flew in to express solidarity with Palestinians and criticize the silence of American unions on the issue. Citing Martin Luther King Jr., Vavi blasted the “roaring silence” of U.S. trade unions.

South Africa has an active BDS movement regarding Israel – calling for Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions – which is spreading worldwide. This past week, BDS billboards went up alongside South African highways. Leaders of the anti-apartheid movement, like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have endorsed the campaign.

What was impressive was that many young people from activist groups and college campuses, many of Middle East backgrounds, turned up. They seemed to appreciate the “teach-in” orientation of the speakers who crammed their presentations with facts and context turning the event into more of a course than a political rally.

Personally I would have liked a more colorful and energetic style to inspire the public to get more involved on the issues. More interaction between the jurors and the audience would have been helpful to challenge what, at times, felt like a one-way old-fashioned format.

There were many cameras from alternative media, groups like Deep Dish TV, but not the mainstream media, although I did run into one cocky journalist from Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal who was clearly there to “expose” the Tribunal.

I had a short exchange with him. He criticized the event for only having one point of view – although the speakers varied in their approaches. He introduced himself as an Iranian-American after denouncing Iran as anti-Semitic for criticizing Israel.

“It’s so one-sided,” he said repeatedly about the Tribunal, which was strange coming from a member of the Journal’s opinion page, known for being overwhelmingly on the Right and as one-sided as they come.

At the Tribunal, there was a lot revealed about Palestine and the $4.5 billion in U.S. support annually for Israel. It is information the American people need to know. Yet, American politicians and media continue to ignore one of the most pressing moral issues of our times. Increasingly, they are not even paying lip service.

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at Newsdissector.net. His latest books are Blogothon and Occupy: Dissecting Occupy Wall Street. He hosts a show on ProgressiveRadioNetwork (PRN.fm.) Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org

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40 comments on “Tribunal Weighs Crimes on Palestine

  1. This bullshit has been tried before. Lest we forget Arafat’s 100K per month apt. in Paris, and the millions in his coffers.

  2. In November 2011 – the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) held its two-days session in Cape Town (South Africa). In its unanimous verdict the RTP found that the Zionist regime a racist and apartheid entity as defined under international law. In their recommendations, the jury called upon the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to initiate an investigation into to the international crimes committe by Israel; Palestine to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; and the UN General Assembly to convene a special session to “consider the question os apartheid against Palestinian people” including considering the roles of individuals, organizations, corporations and all public and private bodies which have been material in assisting Israel in its apartheid policies.

    During the session, Tribunal’s official website was hacked by Zionist IT thugs, as part of ‘Jewish vengeance’. The Knesset (parliament) of the ‘only democracy in the ME’, stripped its elected member, Haneen Zoabi, for testifying in front of the RTP. For the safety of Haneen Zoabi’s life, the Tribunal had to ask South African government to ensure Israeli Mossad takes no reprisals against those who testified in Cape Town.

    The jurors at the Cape Town session included; Stéphane Hessel, Gisèle Halimi, Ronnie Kasrils, Mairead Maguire, Michael Mansfield, Antonio Martin Pallin, Cynthia McKinney, Aminata Traoré, Yasmin Sooka and Alice Walker.

    “Our use of the phrase ‘the Dark Ages’ to cover the period from 699 to 1,000 marks our undue concentration on Western Europe. .. From India to Spain, the brilliant civiliztion of Islam flourished. What was lost to Christendom at this time was not lost to civilization, but quite the contrary – to us it seem that West-European civilization is civilization; but this a narrow view,” Professor Bertrand Russell in ‘History of Western Philosophy, page 419.

    http://rehmat1.com/2011/11/10/russell-tribunal-israel-is-an-apartheid-entity/

    • rehmatshit is at it again. His medievalist paradises should be on “trial” for their terrorism. The Russell Tribune is just a front organization for terrorists and fortunately amounts to nothing but arab ass kissing.

      • Louis Wellberg on said:

        Seems you are “at it” again. Why don’t you go somewhere else? This site is not for you, boring rat.
        You are not contributing anything except BS.

      • eCitizen on said:

        Borat has no facts to refute the arguments presented so he spews hate.

  3. F. G. Sanford on said:

    I remember being an Appalachian poor kid thrown, by virtue of fate, into a school system full of city-slicker kids. One day, a “science” discussion came up about differences between male and female animals. Some kid said, “Bulls have horns, but cows don’t, because they’re female”. Having milked more than one cow with horns, I tried to point out that this student was incorrect. Not only did the rest of the class make fun of me, but the teacher sided with the kid who was wrong. This is typical of our society. We are a moronic, brainwashed, illiterate, pompous, opinionated bunch of dolts with beliefs entirely controlled by the corporate machine. I learned at an early age that the “truth” in this society is a matter of consensus. It is manufactured, and nobody thinks. We endure the fundamental flaw of Democracy: the tyranny of a misinformed, willfully ignorant majority. Sooner or later, every society that chooses rhetoric over reality pays the price. Those who support Israeli apartheid will eventually be regarded as what they are: racist ideologues who promote bronze-age mythology over reason and rationality. The same is true of the terrorists who resort to violence in support of the Palestinian cause. Both sides are archaic, despicable and unworthy of membership in modern society. But as one of the few American citizens alive today who actually knows how to milk a cow by hand, I can’t help but think that the far more evil and insidious side of this dispute is represented by the city-slicker Israelis.

    • Louis Wellberg on said:

      “But as one of the few American citizens alive today who actually knows how to milk a cow by hand, I can’t help but think that the far more evil and insidious side of this dispute is represented by the city-slicker Israelis.”

      “I learned at an early age that the “truth” in this society is a matter of consensus. Look at Rmoney and the elections…”

      I agree with all your posts.

    • eCitizen on said:

      Wonderful post and so true !

      Great examples of mass ignorance at its malevolent best can be found in Michael Lewis’ books on the recent (latest) Wall Street fiasco (“Liar’s Poker” and “The Big Short”). Tells the inside story of how the world’s economy came to the point of complete destruction because of the mass idiocy of the big Wall Street financial firms. Reading these books you cannot help but be impressed at how extraordinarily stupid these people were.

  4. jerry gates on said:

    The Palestinian civil society platforms are clear, their situation is in some cases in tolerable and in other cases barely tolerable, neither of which is acceptable in the eyes of the consensus of Palestine’s people where they live and breath their lives in frustration.

    Pushing always uphill against What Danny Schechter and the Russel Tribunal witnesses expose as an illegal affront to their civil society as far as allowing and fostering self determination and self governance in a democratic fashion,Palestinians have gathered a great crowd around them, much more so than is evident in Danny’s early paragraphs, I know because I try to keep my mind into Palestine’s soul wherever it may wander and the wandering to and fro of Palestine’s witnesses is indeed a wonder to behold.

    It pays to advertise with a sweet faced woman wearing a hijab it would seem and Palestine is full of them as are the many Arab nations and their Magreb neighbors as well as western nations. Women baring witness for themselves in their own way has made for a very pertinent and prescient experience for many on the web, this article is testament to their persistence and also their determination.

    Many names are much owed appreciation for their hard work and many hours of study, Danny Schechter is surely one of those names. Many thanks to Danny for wading through the plethora of ambiguities and hard times we all endure in various medias, Consortium News is a refreshing change of both pace and heart which is evident in the attitude of the articles and comments, thanks for all that you do her at CN.

    The circumstances are very similar to Apartheid for some and not so much for others, but the undermining of the unity and solidarity of various refugee camps , the West Bank, and Gaza is obvious, as well as a general torturous demeaning of the leadership and populous of all Palestinians in many western news outlets, diplomatic offices, at the UN in some wise and in military circles where intervention in other struggles has been ruinous, no attempt from any military intervention troops or peacekeeping forces has been even tried, save for the PA and Dayton, which the peoples will shows to be a farce and deprecation of their leadership in fealty to Israeli defense forces will.

    Talk is cheap. what Palestinians want to see is their prisoners released, Settlers evacuated from all post 1948 war marks, laws restricting IOF soldiers and spooks from anywhere near Palestinian people and the open borders of Gaza, the West Bank, with Trains, airports and free trade routes guaranteed by all sides of the equation, Peace is made by being civil in civilized society, this civility is not dignified by one side having all of the peace and the other living in horror and a sense of loss so grave as to illicit the term genocide, even if sociocide might be a better descriptor in some cases.

    Palestinians want to return to the places where they were terrorized and live as they wish where they feel they belong as indigeonous peoples in their ancestral lands, Just because the Americans cheated their natives so viciously doesnt mean they vant mature, render back what is due and stop doing what they ought not do, which is to facilitate this genocidal urge of the Israeli government and pay it’s way to such a despicable affront to Palestinian human rights, the International community has heard the call many time with still no action either pending or discussed in a substantive and arbited fashion. The reason for this inaction is the deplorable state of affairs in several nations legislative bodies Foreign office and State department posts where Israeli zealots ply the responsible of jurists away from their just and mete services to the general public, Selling of public office is answered quite well in Dante’s infernos annals, I might suggest the offenders consult these passages to inspire their hearts to be rendered to God’s will rather than the Mossad’s threats, God.s punishment is quite severe and eternal, Mossad can only hurt you career or body, neither of which is worth the loss of your soul.

    • jerry, you are an idiot and an antisemitic one to boot. Hamas has sworn to Israel’s destruction, and you can’t negotiate with someone who wants you dead. You arab ass kissers never give a shit about Jewish blood. That’s cheap…

      • rosemerry on said:

        Please consortium remove this boring lying rat from your interesting comments by humans.

      • Louis Wellberg on said:

        Anytime your “people” are critizised you whine: “antisesmetic”, not even understanding what it means. You are ONE with ARABS… dont’t you understand? You are the same!YOU and THEY are SEMITES!Same race. Don’t fool yourself, but you have strayed from the straight path.
        (I like THEM, the true SEMITES, but not you.)
        You certainly don’t further your cause by you whining. I thought it was required that you educate yourself to represent the opinions of your folks. But I hear nothing but silly opinions from you. Demonstrate why you think the criticism is undeserved, and tell us what good people you are base on your good deeds or inventions??
        The whole world dislikes you and your “people” because you are vultures,… but you don’t realize it because you think you are special.
        You are nobodies, because all your “knowledge” originated in other countries.
        You are good as copiers and bankers only, jobs that need no soul. (or is it sole: filet of…):)

        I am not reading your comments again, ever.

      • eCitizen on said:

        Reading Borat’s posts, I am reminded of an old farmer’s saying: “Never wrestle with a pig. You just get dirty and only the pig enjoys it.”

  5. Mazen manasseh on said:

    It is heart warming to see the racist Israel apologists are running out of racional arguments to justify the 40 years ongoing brutalization of the palestinian by the american sustained zionis gang
    Whenever an apologist acuses somebody of beeing atisemite , You can bet he ran out of inteligent remarks.

  6. At 2010 – Hebrew University professor Nurit Peled Ethanan in her statement at the RTP said: “In the Jewish Democratic state of Israel all human values have long wiped off by the blood of innocent babes. Racist discourse is legitimate and racist education is the only education allowed. Israeli children are raised on slogans such as love thy neighbour while being trained to kill their neighbours and their children, demolish their houses, torture their elders and deprive their ill and dying from medical help care. Jewish mothers raised their children with all the love and attention Jewish mothers have and then rejoice when their children turn into murderers, and are proud when their children turn into corpses in uniform. In the Jewish democracy of Israel, 324 children, most of them kidnapped from their beds in the middle of night by fully armed soldiers, are held in inhuman conditions of Israeli prisons. In the Jewish democracy of Israel, no-one is ever punished for killing Palestinian children; Israeli government trades in human life and human blood, in a market where non-Jewish blood and bones are worth much than Jewish ones; Israeli candidates who wish to be elected to the office of PM have to outscore their rivals in killing of Palestinians and make grand promises to kill and expel more and more and more. In the democracy of Israel 20% of citizen of the state are labeled in schoolbooks as demographic problem, threat and even demographic nightmare; their language, their culture, their rights and their hopes are erased from the face of the earth both physically and symbolically.

    As an Israeli, it’s very painful to me to realize the word Israel has become the synonym of Oppression, Tyranny, ruthless Apatheid and Racism, and the star of David is equated in rallies all over the world to the Swastika. When the Jewish poet Bialik wrote after the pogrom against the Jews in Kishiniev, “Satan has not yet created Vengeance for the blood of a small child” – it did not occur to him that the child might be a Palestinian child from the Holy Land and his slaughterers – Jewish soldiers.”

    http://rehmat1.com/2010/03/31/russell-tribunal-on-palestine/

  7. I see nowhere in the article a where the tribunal offered a rebuttal or defense of Israeli policy vis a vis the Palestinians.

  8. Talk about oppression. You antisemitic asskissers read this:

    Peace-prize winning Pakistani girl on Taliban hit list fights for life after shooting

    Soldiers take Malala Yousafzai, 14, to an army hospital after a gunman attacked her and two other girls in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Tuesday.

    By Amna Nawaz and Mushtaq Yusufzai, NBC News

    Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year old Pakistani activist who won international acclaim for her work promoting peace, and two other young girls were shot and seriously injured Tuesday, police and hospital officials said.

    Local police and hospital officials told NBC News that Malala was shot in the neck and head shortly after leaving her school in the Swat region. Doctors said they were working in an attempt to save the lives of all three girls.

    Malala was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011 for a blog she wrote under a pseudonym for the BBC. She also won the National Peace Prize in Pakistan, was honored with a school named after her, and quickly became an outspoken critic of the Taliban in Pakistan and public advocate for peace.

    In the blog, she chronicled life in the Swat Valley under the brutal and oppressive rule of the local faction of the Pakistani Taliban, who carried out public floggings, hung dead bodies in the streets, and banned education for girls.

    Obama her ‘ideal’ leader
    In early 2011, the militants had added Malala to their hit list.

    “We wanted to kill her as she was pro-West, she was speaking against Taliban and more important she was calling President Obama as her ideal. She was young but was promoting a Western culture in the Pakhtun populated areas,” Ihsanullah Ihsan, the spokesman of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP said Tuesday.

    Malala Yousafzai, pictured here at the age of 12 in March 2009, was undergoing surgery after she was shot twice Tuesday.

    The Taliban had made a plan for killing her a year ago but were waiting for an opportunity, he told NBC News.

    Yousafzai was initially treated at the Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital, in Mingora, the main city of Swat, but was later airlifted to a hospital in the larger city of Peshawar.

    A police official, quoting other students who witnessed the shooting, said some people came in a car and stopped in front of the school and then asked them to identify Malala.

    “Since the students already knew about threats to Malala Yousufzai’s life, therefore they said they didn’t know her,” the police officer said.

    But he said when Malala came out of the school and sat in a school van she was shot.

    Americans ignore ‘great risks,’ travel to Pakistan to protest US drone strikes

    The young girl’s stark depictions of daily life in Swat — as Pakistan’s army carried out a massive military operation against the Taliban in the area — led her to become the first Pakistani girl nominated for the children’s peace prize.

    She began writing the diary for the BBC when she was just 11.

    In one posting on her BBC blog, she wrote, “My younger brother does not like going to school. He cries while going to school and is jubilant coming back home … He said that whenever he saw someone he got scared that he might be kidnapped. My brother often prays ‘O God bring peace to Swat and if not then bring either the US or China here.’”

    • No one on these boards believes all Muslims are angels, but individual killings do not correlate with Israel’s national policy, which has an inhumane impact on an entire people. A significant percentage of Israelis, who clearly are not anti-semitic, want to make peace with the Palestinians. The US could work things out if it had the courage or foresight, but it does not. Everyone knows what has to be done. Israel back to the 67 borders, and If it took American troops on Israeli soil to be peace keepers and put those in Israel with a Massada complex at ease, so be it. And no, they would not be there to convert Jews to Christianity. Soldiers are not evangelists. I am all for Israel within the legal limits set by the UN and agreed to by every other nation on earth. As of now, Israel is marching toward eventual collapse, and a Romney presidency may have the opposite effect of his stated support of Israel. I am not a Christian zionist nut using the Jews for the return of Christ. In fact, I find it most ironic that our persecution of Jews led to the creation of the Jewish nation in the first place. Had we treated you with decency, you would have been happy in the diaspora. Certainly, Jews in America are not streaming to Israel.

    • Louis Wellberg on said:

      Bad intro.
      Asskissers do not like to be invited by a boron like you to tell them what they should read.
      You don’t even have diplomacy. You need to control your temper and make sense, if you can. Otherwise you will not get your point across. Can’t you tell that your audience is not listening to you vecause of the way you represent yourself?

    • eCitizen on said:

      So Borat, what does this have to do with the Palestinians? Surely you cannot be such a bigot that you think every Moslem everywhere is guilty of the crimes committed by any Moslem anywhere? Or would you LOL….

  9. Otto Schiff on said:

    I am not defending crime.
    However the tribunal appears to be completely one sided.
    There is nothing about rocket attacks and other forms of aggression such
    as bombing of buses and coffee houses. There is plenty of blame all around
    but tribunals should not be one sided.

  10. Good to see Consortiumnews reporting this even. I believe the MSM have been ordered to ignore it, unless it’s to ridicule it.

  11. Pingback: Tribunal Weighs Crimes on Palestine – Someone want to pass this along to the Main Stream Corporate Media? Cc: The White-house | worldwide hippies

  12. Oh the poor wining medievalist apologists don’t like me calling them what they really are. Neonazi facist hypocrites that condone terrorism by their arab shills and nary a peep of criticism except a paranoid fixation on Israel. Here’s a real read on the so called “trial” of Israel. Sorta reminds you of the Nazi show trials of the conspirators in the failed plot against Hitler:

    Israel on Trial in New York
    On a jury to consider how the Palestinians have been treated were such luminaries as musician Roger Waters and writer Alice Walker.

    By SOHRAB AHMARI
    Those who grew up with Pink Floyd’s 1979 double album “The Wall” will remember it as the perfect antidote to the crueller aspects of teenage life. Chronicling the mental breakdown of a pop star, the rock opera rages against suffocating parents, tyrannical teachers and social conformism.

    The story concludes with the hero hauled before a nightmarish court, where everyone in his life testifies as an adversarial witness. Before the defendant can say a word in his own defense, the judge bellows a guilty verdict: “The evidence before the court is incontrovertible. There is no need for the jury to retire!”

    I was reminded of this scene Saturday while attending a session in New York of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a self-appointed people’s court that has met periodically since 2009 to sit in judgment of Israel. Here, too, there was no one to speak for the defendant, the world’s sole Jewish state. And here, too, the verdict was never in doubt.

    Another reason to be reminded of “The Wall”: Roger Waters, Pink Floyd’s chief lyricist, was a member of the jury. He was joined by such luminaries as the novelist Alice Walker, former Black Panther Angela Davis and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

    The tribunal is modeled after a similar ad hoc court convened in 1966 by the British philosopher Bertrand Russell to investigate American war crimes in Vietnam. The original Russell Tribunal was also a predictable affair, with a jury composed of the French existentialist and ardent Soviet apologist Jean-Paul Sartre; his lifelong partner, and an equally ardent communist, Simone de Beauvoir; the Marxist historian Isaac Deutscher; and other prominent antiwar figures of the time.

    After hearing testimony from a handful of witnesses, the tribunal was asked to determine whether the U.S. government was “guilty of genocide against the people in Vietnam.” The unanimous verdict: “Yes.”

    Since then, there have been Russell tribunals to address the 1973 coup in Chile and the war in Iraq. At the one on Palestine, the jury heard from, among others, the British journalist and anti-Israel activist Ben White, who spent 40 minutes calling for the “decolonization” of the Levant and denouncing “ethnic cleansing” by Israel since its founding in 1948. On the Counterpunch website in 2002, Mr. White wrote: “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are.”

    After Mr. White’s testimony, Mr. Waters of Pink Floyd fame spoke up. “Sitting here as we are New York City,” he said, “it’s hard to ignore the elephant in the room—this elephant being the unfathomable influence in the corridors of power of the Israeli and Jewish lobbies.”

    Catching up with Mr. Waters later, I asked why the tribunal wasn’t hearing an Israeli perspective. “That’s not what it’s for,” he said. “It is a people’s tribunal and we do invite the other side to attend.” (Why would the Israelis have declined such an invitation, I wondered.)

    I asked Mr. Waters if he thought perhaps there ought to be a Russell Tribunal on Syria to hold the Assad regime to account for killing some 30,000 Syrian citizens? “I’m not part of the hierarchy of the Russell Tribunal,” Mr. Waters said, sounding annoyed at the question. “I’ve been invited to take part in the Russell Tribunal on Palestine as a juror, so there’s no way I can answer that question because I just do not know.” He did later volunteer: “As far as Syria is concerned, I have no fence to sit on. I am against the Assad rule.”

    I then asked Ms. Davis whether she opposes specific Israeli policies or, like many other attendees at the tribunal, is against the existence of the Jewish state.

    “We are considering this new notion called sociocide,” she said. “It’s close to genocide. It’s the breaking down of a particular society. It may not be genocide in the sense that all the people are killed or the biological-reproductive capacity of the people is assaulted, but rather the structures of society are so dismantled that it is impossible for the Palestinians to continue to exist as a people.”

    Ms. Walker, who earlier this year prevented an Israeli publisher from printing a Hebrew-language edition of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Color Purple,” said a Jewish state just won’t work. “In my view Jewish Israelis and Palestinians have to learn to live in one country, as equals,” she said. “I don’t think the two-country solution is a solution.”

    Roger Waters is accustomed to playing encores, but this meeting of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine was likely the last of its major get-togethers. And its work was done: Regarding Palestinian rights, the jurors ruled that Israel is guilty of violations that are “systematic, numerous, flagrant and, sometimes, criminal.” Nice touch, that “sometimes.” After all, they wanted to be fair.

    Mr. Ahmari is an assistant books editor at the Journal.

    • eCitizen on said:

      “I asked Mr. Waters if he thought perhaps there ought to be a Russell Tribunal on Syria to hold the Assad regime to account for killing some 30,000 Syrian citizens?”
      ————-

      So The Russell Tribunal should hustle to create hearing for an event that has been going on for about a year just as it has assembled a hearing for something that has been ongoing to over 60 years?

      And you Israel apologists preach about “moral equivalence” LOL….

  13. Pingback: Shut Up About the Jews Already... - Page 3 - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum

  14. Roger Thomas on said:

    You are fond of labelling others as ‘nazi’ whereas you and the rest of the evil Zionist cult are the inheritors of nazism. Blitzkriegs, mass executions, wholesale destruction of Palestinian villages (over 570), raping and pillaging,bulldozing of homes, mass arrests, torture etc.,etc. – these are the criminal actions of your ilk which are all too reminiscent of the nazis’ warcrimes and abuses. You Zionazis have jackbooted yourselves around the Middle East for more than 60 years. You and they bring shame on the Jewish people, many of whom abhor your cruelty and heartlessness in pursuit of the theft of land belonging to others , many of whom are Christians.

    The brutish, barbaric, loathsome Zionazi regime claim to be a western-style democracy is a blatant sham. The reality is a vicious apartheid and illegal state which should be thrown out of the UN and have wholesale sanctions imposed on it.

    One only needs a little humanity to condemn and oppose the horrors of the Zionazis. Antisemitism has nothing to do with such a position although, as has been noted, the ongoing crimes of the Zionazis may well eventually lead to worldwide antisemitism.

  15. Roger’s nazi antisemitic bullshit is delusional. Your apologies to the medievalist arab regiemes is sickening.

  16. Redesigning the Peace Process
    Ignoring cultural difference and overestimating politics has left us without a resolution. We can do better.
    By Richard Landes,Tablet magazine, September 25, 2012

    Since the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000, there hasn’t been a moment when the punditocracy hasn’t insisted that Israel needs to make a deal with the Palestinians—and soon. Otherwise, they claim, Israeli democracy, saddled with millions of Palestinians living under Israeli control without citizenship, will have to choose between the twin catastrophes [1] of democratic suicide and apartheid. And since the solution that everyone knows is the eventual one–land for peace–is so clear, let’s just get on [2] with it.

    It hasn’t panned out. We’re now approaching two decades of failure of the two-state solution. Every strategy for pulling it off—Oslo, Taba, Geneva, Road Map, Dayton, Obama/Clinton—has, despite sometimes enormous efforts, failed or died stillborn. And yet, with each failure, a new round [3] of hope emerges, with commentators and politicians arguing that this time [4], if we just tinker with some of the details, we’ll get peace right. (Or, as an increasing number have now come to believe, it’s time we abandon [5] the two-state solution entirely.)

    The predominant explanation for this impasse in the West has focused on Israel’s role: settlements [6] that provoke, checkpoints [7] that humiliate, blockades [8] that strangle, and walls [9] that imprison. Palestinian “no’s” typically get a pass: Of course Arafat said [10] “no” at Camp David; he only got Bantustans [11] while Israelis kept building illegal settlements. Suicide bombers are excused as registering [12] a legitimate protest at being denied the right to be a free people in their own land. In Condoleezza Rice’s words [13]: “[The Palestinians] are perfectly ready to live side by side with Israel because they just want to live in peace … the great majority of people, they just want a better life.” The corollary to such thinking, of course, holds that if only the Israelis didn’t constantly keep the Palestinians down the world would be a better place. So, the sooner we end the occupation, the better, even if it means urging [14] the United States to pressure Israel into the necessary concessions. It’s for Israel’s own good [15].

    This line of thinking is driven entirely by politics. Oslo thinkers from Bill Clinton to Thomas Friedman believe that what was needed was a political settlement and the rest would take care of itself. In 2007, Rice reflected this outlook in a statement of faith that projected [16] a peculiarly modern outlook: “I just don’t believe mothers want their children to grow up to be suicide bombers. I think the mothers want their children to grow up to go to university. And if you can create the right conditions, that’s what people are going to do.”

    Overestimating the power of politics and dramatically underestimating the importance of culture has actually hindered the possibility for a political solution. For Jews, especially progressive Jews, the early second decade of the 21st century poses a particularly interesting and painful meditation just in time for Yom Kippur: In our quest for “fairness,” for splitting the blame evenly, for misidentifying problems as political and therefore easily solvable—so easily solvable they could be dispatched with a simple email, as one exasperated BBC anchor put it recently—are we actually working against both parties in the conflict?

    I believe the answer is yes. And those who wish to pursue a peaceful resolution need to take a hard look at the cultural difference between Israelis and Arabs—and craft policy that confronts it.
    ***
    Any approach that pays heed to cultural issues yields a very different view as to why the conflict persists. The zero-sum [17] logic of Arab attitudes toward Israel does not represent merely the choices [18] made by politicians, but Islamic religiosity and deep-seated cultural mores. From the Arab perspective, the very existence of Israel represents a stain [19] on Arab honor and a blasphemy [20] to Islam’s dominion in Dar al Islam. Some, like the Palestinian Authority, may have made a tactical shift [21] in which they will, despite the shame [22] of it, talk with Israelis and even make public agreements. But they have treated such engagement as a Trojan horse [23], a feint to position for further war. Within this cultural context, the peace process has actually served as a war process [24].

    Well-meaning Oslo proponents, afraid that criticism of, and demands on, the Palestinians would delay the peace process, denounced anyone who made these kinds of observations as enemies of peace. So, when Arafat said “no” at Camp David in the summer of 2000, and a wave of suicide bombers came pouring out of the belly of the horse, these same Oslo supporters, including many an alter-Juif [25], rather than admitting they had called it wrong, preferred to blame [26] Israel.

    But bitterest of ironies, in so doing, they fed the very culture they denied. Palestinian hatred [27] has festered under the guidance of Oslo-empowered elites, unopposed [28] by the very actors one would expect to have the courage to call out such vitriol: journalists, human-rights organizations, and progressives. Instead, these groups have gone out of their way not to inform [29] their readers of this culture of hate.

    Continue reading: Here’s my proposal [30]

    By constantly reinforcing a Palestinian sense of grievance against Israel, activists like the late Rachel Corrie [31], journalists like BBC’s Jeremy Bowen and CNN’s Ben Wedeman, and Israel-obsessed organizations like Human Rights Watch have unwittingly contributed to the very war that rages. And as a result of this consensus, Israel appears to most in the West as a terrible oppressor when the sad but redeeming truth is that the Israelis are the best enemies one could hope for, and they face the worst.

    Nothing illustrates the cultural gap between Israel and Palestine better—and offers a more immediate and constructive way out—than the problem of Palestinian refugees. They are the symbol of Arab political priorities. When faced with the catastrophic humiliation of 1948, when the combined Arab nations, fully confident of a glorious victory, failed to destroy the upstart Jewish nation in the heart of the Muslim world, the Arab leadership unanimously chose to herd [32] Arab refugees into prison camps so that they could serve as a symbol of Israeli crimes and a breeding ground or the counter-attack.

    For over 60 years, Arab leaders have blocked [33] any efforts to remove these people from these wretched camps because to do so would be a tacit acceptance of Israel’s permanence and would acknowledge the humiliating defeat. (By contrast, Israel rapidly moved the even larger number of Jews chased from the Arab world in 1948 out of their refugee camps.) The Arabs thus went from a zero-sum loss (the establishment of Israel) to a negative-sum solution: sacrifice your own people on the altar of your lost honor [34]. No negotiations, no recognition, no peace.

    Not only do Palestinian negotiators insist [35] on the return of 5 million refugees to Israel (it was one of two key deal-breakers [36] at Camp David), but the Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon recently explained [37] that Palestinian refugees not residing in the future Palestine would not be citizens in that state. In other words, Palestinian refugees still captive in camps in Lebanon and Syria and Jordan only have a right to citizenship in Israel.

    So, here’s my proposal to those who somehow feel we must revive the peace process now, before it’s too late. Call for the Palestinians to show their good intentions, not toward the Israelis, but toward their own people. Get those “refugees” out of the prison camps into which they have been so shamefully consigned for most of a century.

    Begin at home, with the over 100,000 refugees in Territory A [38], under complete PA control. Bring in Habitat for Humanity and Jimmy Carter to help them build decent, affordable, new homes. Let us all participate in turning the powers of Palestinian ingenuity away from manufacturing hatred, fomenting violence, and building villas [39] for the rich and powerful, while the refugees live in squalor as a showcase of Israeli cruelty, and start to do good for a people victimized by their own leadership.

    To take this position, so aligned with progressive values, however, we would have to confront two obstacles. First, overcoming our immense reluctance to criticize and make demands on the Palestinians. That would also mean we’d also have to renounce the impulse to attack as racists or Islamophobes those making the demands. We also have to consider, especially true for journalists in the field, the possibility that we’re intimidated, afraid to criticize people with so prickly a collective ego [40]. Second, it would mean overcoming the widespread hunger for stories of “Jews behaving badly.” After all, if it weren’t for the appetite for moral Schadenfreude, the whole idea of pinning the miserable fate of the Palestinian refugees on Israel rather than on their Arab jailors would never have taken hold in the first place.

    ***
    Such introspection and self-criticism can be a little like chewing glass, but I can think of no more important communal task this Yom Kippur.

    How often have I gone overboard, how often have I accepted a lethal narrative in order to save face with my friends who expect me to rise above being an “Israel-firster”? How often have I admitted to crimes on behalf of my people without checking to see if they were accurate? How often have I failed to speak out against the depravity of the Palestinian leadership, out of fear of being called an Islamophobe? In the answers to those questions lies the path to a real peace in this troubled, blessed land.

    Do we outsiders who say we want peace want it badly enough to confront our own comfort zones [16]? Let’s hope. Those Palestinians and Israelis who are ready to live in a win-win world depend on it.

  17. andreas w. mytze on said:

    who is borat?

    • He is a lone voice that stands up for Israel and American Jews who are Liberal, and refuse to be silent when the antisemites who couch their “criticism” of Israel in those terms.

  18. Here’s a story that belies “What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander”:

    When the Arab Jews Fled
    A new movement insists that the founding of Israel created more than one set of refugees
    By LUCETTE LAGNADO

    Fortunée Abadie is still haunted by the day in 1947 when mobs stormed the Jewish Quarter of the ancient Syrian city of Aleppo, shortly after the United Nations vote that laid the groundwork for the creation of Israel.
    Aleppo, a city where Jews and Muslims had lived together for centuries, exploded with anti-Jewish violence.

    Mrs. Abadie, now 88, remembers watching attackers burn prayer books, prayer shawls and other holy objects from the synagogue across the street. She heard the screams of neighbors as their homes were invaded. “We thought we were going to be killed,” she says. The family fled to nearby Lebanon. Mrs. Abadie left behind all she had: clothes, furniture, photographs and even a small bottle of French perfume that she still misses, Soir de Paris—Evening in Paris.

    The Abadie family’s story is moving from the recesses of history to a newly prominent place in the debate over the future of the Middle East. Arab leaders have insisted for decades that Palestinian refugees who fled their homes following Israel’s creation should be allowed to return to their former homes.

    Now Israeli officials are turning the tables, saying the hardships faced by several hundred thousand exiled Arab Jews, many forced from their homes, deserve as much attention as the plight of displaced Palestinians. “We are 64 years late,” says Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister. “The refugee problem does not lie only on one side.” Mr. Ayalon, whose father is an Algerian Jew, led a U.N. conference last month sponsored by Israel and dubbed “Justice for Jews From Arab Countries.”

    Before the establishment of Israel in 1948, an estimated 850,000 Jews lived in the Arab world. In countries across the Middle East, there were flourishing Jewish communities with their own synagogues, schools and communal institutions.

    Life changed dramatically by 1948 as Arab governments declared war on the newly created Jewish state—and on the Jews within their own borders. At the U.N., an Egyptian delegate warned that the plan to partition Palestine into two states, one for Jews and one for Palestinians, “might endanger a million Jews living in the Muslim countries.”

    Jews began fleeing—to Israel, of course, but also to France, England, Canada, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. Yemen was home to more than 55,000 Jews; in Aden, scores were killed in a vicious pogrom in 1947. An airlift dubbed “Operation Magic Carpet” relocated most Yemenite Jews to Israel. In Libya, once home to 38,000 Jews, the community was subjected to many brutal attacks over the years. In June 1967, there were anti-Jewish rampages; two Jewish families were murdered—one family clubbed to death—and schools and synagogues were destroyed, says Vivienne Roumani, director of the documentary “The Last Jews of Libya.” “We were there for centuries, but there is no trace of Jewish life,” she says.

    Among the Jews forced out of their homes was my own Egyptian-Jewish family, departing on a rickety boat in the spring of 1963. Egypt had once been home to 80,000 Jews. My parents, both Cairenes whose stories I chronicled in two memoirs, were especially pained at leaving a country they loved, without being allowed to take money or assets.

    Within 25 years, the Arab world lost nearly all its Jewish population. Some faced expulsion, while others suffered such economic and social hardships they had no choice but to go. Others left voluntarily because they longed to settle in Israel. Only about 4,300 Jews remain there today, mostly in Morocco and Tunisia, according to Justice for Jews From Arab Countries, a New York-based coalition of groups that also participated in the U.N. conference.

    Many of the Palestinians who fled Israel wound up stranded in refugee camps. Multiple U.N. agencies were created to help them, and billions of dollars in aid flowed their way. The Arab Jews, by contrast, were quietly absorbed by their new homes. “The Arab Jews became phantoms” whose stories were “edited out” of Arab consciousness, says Fouad Ajami, a scholar of the Middle East at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. “We are talking about the claims of the Palestinians,” he says. “Fine, but there were 800,000 Arab Jews, and they have a story to tell.”

    Palestinians bristle at the effort to equate the displacement of Arab Jews with their own grievances. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, says Mr. Ayalon “opened up a can of worms for political purposes” with the U.N. conference. She says that Israeli officials are trying to use a “forced and false analogy…to negate or question Palestinian refugee rights.” The Palestinians, she says, “have nothing to do with the plight of the Jews or other minorities who left the Arab world.” Still, Dr. Ashrawi recently proposed that Arab Jews should also have a “right of return” to the countries they left.

    At the U.N. conference, Mr. Ayalon called Dr. Ashrawi’s suggestion to have Jews return to Arab countries “totally ridiculous.” Mr. Ayalon and the Israeli government are pushing ahead with efforts to raise the profile of Arab Jews. Israel has pledged to establish a national day in honor of Arab Jews and build a museum about their lost cultures. Mr. Ayalon has decided to make the Arab-Jewish refugees part of any negotiations, which has never been the case before. Looking ahead to a settlement, he would like to see both Palestinian and Jewish refugees compensated by an international fund.

    Meanwhile, the Israeli ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prosor, has called on the U.N. to research the refugees’ history.
    Mrs. Abadie attended the conference with her son Elie, now a physician and rabbi who leads Congregation Edmond J. Safra, a Manhattan synagogue attended by Lebanese and Syrian Jews. Until 1947, Syria had an estimated 30,000 Jews living in Aleppo and Damascus. But like Mrs. Abadie, many departed in the wake of the violence that left 75 dead and synagogues in ruin.

    The Abadies were refugees twice. After leaving Aleppo, the family ended up in Beirut, Lebanon. For a time, life was good in the cosmopolitan city. But by 1970, the climate had turned hostile. Armed militants appeared in the streets. Rabbis, including Elie’s father, Abraham, had their pictures posted in the city’s mosques, identifying them as “Zionist-Jewish leaders,” an act the family took as a death threat. The Abadies decided once again it was time to move.

    Some Jewish refugees, like Sir Ronald Cohen, find hope in the new initiatives to call attention to Arab Jews. Mr. Cohen, a London-based businessman, was a student at a French Catholic school in Cairo in 1956, friendly with his Muslim and Christian classmates. His father owned an import-export firm that specialized in appliances, and “Ronnie,” then 11, loved to visit him and play with the radios.

    Then in October 1956, Israel, France and England waged war against Egypt over the Suez Canal. Mr. Cohen’s parents pulled him out of school after another Jewish boy was injured. His mother, a British citizen, was placed under house arrest. His father’s business was “sequestered”—effectively taken from him—and he wasn’t welcome at his own office.

    In May 1957, the family left on a plane bound for Europe. Mr. Cohen still remembers his father crying on the plane. “There is nothing left here,” he recalls his mother saying. “It is all over.”

    In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Jews continued to pour out of the Muslim countries. When Desiré Sakkal and his family left Egypt as stateless refugees in 1962, he says, “there were very few Jews left.” Stranded in Paris in a hotel, Mr. Sakkal’s little brother was diagnosed with cancer, and he still remembers how his parents went to the hospital every day. The brother died a year later in New York, at the age of 10. Mr. Sakkal went on to found the Historical Society of Jews from Egypt, which seeks to recall the life left behind.

    The Six-Day War of June 1967 brought some of the most violent anti-Jewish eruptions. As Arab countries faced defeat by Israel, they turned their rage on their own Jewish residents—what remained of them. In Egypt, Jewish men over 18 were rounded up and sent to prison. Some were kept for a few days. Others, like Philadelphia Rabbi Albert Gabbai, a Cairo native, remained imprisoned for three years. Rabbi Gabbai was only 18 when he was thrown in jail, along with three older brothers. He still remembers the cries of his fellow prisoners—Muslim Brotherhood members who were being tortured—echoing through the jail. He and his brothers feared that they were going to be killed. After three years of “despair,” he says, they were driven to the airport and escorted to an Air Franceflight.

    Mr. Cohen, who left Egypt in 1957,grew up to become a pioneer in European venture capital and private equity. In recent years, he has worked to develop the Palestinian private sector. He believes that the focus on Jewish-Arab refugees could spur the Arabs and Israelis toward peace. “There are refugees on both sides, so that evens the scales, and I think that it will be helpful to the process,” he says. “It shows that both sides suffered the same fate.”

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