Cape Town hosts Russell Tribunal on Palestine

Judge Richard Goldstone recently tried to refute comparisons between Israel and Apartheid South Africa. But a man who has established a reputation for having views so malleable that they change from one day to another is perhaps not the most reliable authority on the matter. That, however, is not something one can say about the great Bishop Desmond Tutu, a man who has a far more consistent recording of challenging oppression and injustice. Let us hear then what the great man has to say about Apartheid in Israel.

Panellists at the tribunal also include Alice Walker, Ronnie Kasrils, Mairead MacGuire, Pierre Galand and the former French resistance fighter and Holocaust survivor Stéphane Hessel. Respect is due to our fried Frank Barat for another important initiative successfully realized.

Jailed for Sailing to Gaza, Challenging the Blockade

by Medea Benjamin and Robert Naiman

Two boats full of courageous passengers were on their way to Gaza when they were intercepted on Friday, November 4, by the Israeli military in international waters. We call the passengers courageous because they sailed from Turkey on November 2 with the knowledge that at any moment they might be boarded by Israeli commandos intent on stopping them—perhaps violently, as the Israeli military did in 2010 when they killed nine humanitarian aid workers on the Turkish boat named Mavi Marmara.

The boats—one from Canada and one from Ireland—were carrying 27 passengers, including press and peace activists from Ireland, Canada, the United States, Australia and Palestine. They were unarmed, and the Israeli military knew that. They were simply peace activists wanting to connect with civilians in Gaza, and the Israeli military knew that. Yet naked aggression was used against them in international waters—something that is normally considered an act of piracy.

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Dancing Into The Trap

By Raymond Deane

Recently the popular Israeli internet news service Ynet published an article by Itamar Eichner called Foreign Ministry beats Israel boycotts (7 October 2011).

The article tells us that ‘Pro-Palestinian groups calling for a cultural boycott against Israel have experienced several failures recently thanks to the Foreign Ministry’s work.’

Note that this ‘work’ is deemed important enough to be undertaken not by the Ministries of Culture or Public Diplomacy, as one might expect, but by the Foreign Ministry itself. This accords with what Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, a former Foreign Ministry deputy director general, said in 2005: ‘We see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and…do not differentiate between propaganda and culture.’ (Ha’aretz, 21 September 2005).

The necessity for boycott is established by surveying the situation in Israel/Palestine: Israel continues forcibly to displace Palestinian communities from occupied East Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and the Negev; it continues colonial settlement construction in defiance of international law; its ongoing siege of Gaza causes drastic denial of basic rights; dozens of apartheid laws in Israel discriminate against the state’s ‘non-Jewish’ citizens; finally, Israel continues to deny Palestinian their basic right to return home.

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