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The Russell Tribunal On Palestine
South Africa Session
By Stephen Lendman
Launched on March 4, 2009, "The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) seeks to reaffirm the primacy of international law (to settle) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (by focusing on) the enunciation of law by authoritative bodies (and) address(ing) the failure of application of law even though it has been so clearly identified."
It begins where the International Court of Justice "stopped: highlighting the responsibilities arising from the enunciation of law, including those of the international community, which cannot continue to shirk its obligations."
RToP follows in the BRussell Tribunal's tradition, named after famed philosopher, mathematician, and anti-war/anti-imperialism activist Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970). Over 50 years ago he warned:
"Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war" and live in peace, because no other option is possible.
Established in 1967, the BRussell Tribunal investigated Vietnam war crimes. More recently, it addressed Iraq war ones and imperial America under Bush and Obama.
RToP exposes Israeli crimes against Palestinian civilians. It wants decades of colonialism, occupation and apartheid replaced by justice, equality, and peace.
RToP's Cape Town South Africa Session
On RToP's second day, its web site (russelltribunalonpalestine.com) was hacked and disabled. An Internet consultant called it "no amateur job."
Doing an important right thing has a price. Dark Israeli-connected forces attacked it in vain. RToP won't be silenced. Neither will others exposing decades of Israeli crimes.
On Facebook last week, RToP's coordinator Frank Barat said:
"Zionists in South Africa are going mad. Every newsroom in the country has received (a) gift box of anti-Russell material."
They also created "Russell the kangaroo" Facebook and Twitter accounts to attack RToP. So far, they've attracted scant attention.
On November 6, Maan News headlined, "Israeli army, intel sites down after 'Anonymous' threat," saying Palestine Internet service was disabled by "a serious act of sabotage."
Held on November 5 and 6, RToP proceeded successfully as planned. Its findings are discussed below. Distribute them for maximum exposure. Everyone should understand Israeli lawlessness against nonviolent civilians.
RToP accused Israel of "subject(ing) the Palestinian people to an institutionised regime amounting to apartheid as defined under international law."
Militarized colonial rule is especially repugnant. Ongoing for over 44 years, Israel's version is monstrous. Occupied Palestinians face daily oppression and indignities. Israeli Arabs have virtually no rights in a Jewish state, affording them solely to Jews.
Racist discrimination defines official Israeli policy. So does systematic state terror, committing gross civil and human rights violations.
The 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (the Declaration on Colonialism), condemned "colonialism in all its forms and manifestations," including illegal settlements.
According to the 1973 International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the Apartheid Convention), this practice is state-sanctioned discriminatory "inhuman" racism "committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them."
Apartheid is an international crime. The above definition builds on the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
In addition, the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court calls apartheid a crime under the Court's jurisdiction. Though flagrantly guilty, Israel is yet to be held accountable.
Inhuman Acts of Apartheid
Clear evidence exposed Israel's apartheid rule, including ongoing "inhuman acts" committed against Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. They include:
targeted killings;
torture and ill-treatment;
arbitrary detentions and other deprivations of liberty;
excluding Palestinians "from participating in political, economic, social and cultural life;"
preventing diaspora Palestinians from returning as international law mandates;
denying or restricting Palestinian free movement, speech, assembly, residence, right of association, education, healthcare, housing, and other rights equal to Jews; and
stealing their land, bulldozing their homes, and forcefully displacing them.
As a result, Arabs and Jews are largely segregated lawlessly, a policy called "hafrada," meaning separation in Hebrew.
Abuses aren't random or isolated. They're willful systematic policies, rooted in law and practice. In all respects, Jews receive preferential treatment over Arabs deemed inferior, not wanted, and inside Israel called fifth column threats.
Occupied Palestinians face institutionalized separation and discrimination under militarized rule. They're "subject to military law enforced by military courts that fall far short of international fair trial standards."
In contrast, settlers are "subject to civil law and a civil court system" under Israeli law. As a result, two vastly different systems exist side by side. One affords justice, at least to some degree. The other affords none. The entire process is rigged to convict or force plea bargains for lesser sentences and fines. Rarely are accused Palestinians acquitted, no matter their innocence.
Persecution as a Crime against Humanity
It "involves the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights of the members of an identifiable group in the context of a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population." Clear evidence is as follows:
besieging Gaza; committing slow-motion genocide;
collectively punishing Palestinians;
willfully targeting civilians during large-scale conflicts, on and off attacks, and regular neighborhood incursions;
lawlessly destroying civilian homes;
lawlessly building a Separation Wall to steal Palestinian land; and
forcible dispossessions to seize all valued West Bank areas and East Jerusalem to entirely Judaize it.
Legal Consequences
Militarized occupation, colonialism and apartheid violate international law and norms. So do loss of life, property and equal opportunity. Holding Israel accountable is essential, including ending lawless practices, prosecuting culpable officials, and mandating restitution insofar as possible.
In fact, states and organizations are required "to cooperate (in ending) Israel's apartheid and policies of persecution...." They must also "end Israel's infringements of international criminal law...." No longer can they be allowed to continue.
"immediately dismantle" Israel's apartheid system;
rescind its discriminatory laws and practices and prohibit new ones;
impose sanctions and sever diplomatic ties until all illegal Israeli practices end;
mandate International Criminal Court (ICC) investigations and prosecutions of culpable Israeli officials;
enlist support from all groups and individuals comprising global civil society;
support boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) worldwide;
reconstitute a General Assembly anti-apartheid Special Committee to address "individuals, organizations, banks, companies, corporations, charities, and any other private or public bodies which assist Israel's apartheid regime with a view to taking appropriate measures;
request an International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion with respect to Israel's longstanding occupation and apartheid;
have the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination address "apartheid in its forthcoming review of Israel in February 2012;" and
assure no Israeli reprisals against South Africa for hosting RToP's third session.
RToP is committed to ending Israel's occupation, colonialism, apartheid, persecution, injustice, and conflict over diplomatic resolutions, as well as enlisting world support toward those ends.
Nothing less is acceptable or tolerable, nor will it ever be.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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