Archive for International law violations

Russell Tribunal on Palestine: NEWS UPDATE (13/10/09)

Posted in Activism, Gaza war crimes investigation, International community, Israel, Non-violent resistance, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, War crimes with tags , , , , , , , , on 13/10/2009 by 3071km

E-mail received: Tuesday 13th October 2009

Source: Russell Tribunal on Palestine/Tribunal Russell sur la Palestine

_____

The Goldstone report fiasco of the last few weeks has reinforced our opinion that only a Peoples/citizen led tribunal will enable public opinion to expose Israel’s crimes and international community complicity.

Richard Falk once said, during a speech in Rome on 22 May 2009 :”It would appear that only civil society has the combination of will and capability to respond affirmatively to the challenge of accountability […] it would be constructive to mount the sort of effort pioneered by the Basso Foundation, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal and the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, in relation to the Gaza events. If well-organized, such an initiative would provide a comprehensive and reliable documentation of allegations relating to war crimes, and would at least offer a symbolic set of responses to the challenge of accountability.”

Two very important events have therefore being put together by the Russell Tribunal on Palestine:

On 16 December a preparatory seminary will take place in Brussels (full programme will follow shortly). This seminary’s goal is to show public opinion that even if Israel has been found guilty of breaches of international law many times in the past, inaction from the EU, UN and other third parties has allowed Israel to continue to act in total impunity. By exposing this, we will emphasise on the need for a public opinion tribunal such as the Russell Tribunal in Palestine to take place, building momentum for the Barcelona session of March 2010.

We have invited people that have worked on the Goldstone report (Christine Chinkin), the Arab League “Dugard” report (Paul de Waart) and the 2004 ICJ advisory opinion (Francois Dubuisson). Also present will be French ambassador Stephane Hessel, Pierre Galand, Leila Shahid, Marcel Francis Khan and former Dutch prime minister Dries Van Agt. Representatives from National Support Committees will also take part explaining to the audience the work that has already been done in various countries.

Then, on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of March the first international session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine will take place in Barcelona. We are at the moment working on the agenda of the session and the jury. We have so far found 3 members:

-Judge Juan Tapia Guzman from Chile
-QC Michael Mansfield from England
-Gisele Halimi from France

We are also honoured to now be able to count film director Costa Gavras has one of our patrons (see full list here: http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.net/pages/The_Support_Commitee-1143887.html

The most important people in this tribunal are yourselves. We cannot do much without your support and help. If you feel that you are able to financially support our initiative, please make an online donation here: http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.net/pages/Support_the_Russell_Tribunal_on_Palestine-1152211.html

It is also primordial that you spread the word. Post links on your websites, blogs, twitter, facebook and mention the Russell Tribunal on Palestine to friends and colleagues.

We need professional media people in Brussels and Barcelona (principally cameramen with gear and Production assistants) that will be able to film seminary and session. We will cover for expenses but cannot pay at the moment. If you’re able to help in this field, send us an email, please.

Media coverage is very important. If you work for a TV (BBC, Al Jazeera, Press TV…) or internet broadcaster (GRITtv, Deep Dish TV, Democracy Now…) please contact us as well.

Many thanks for your support,

In solidarity
Frank Barat
Coordinator
Russell Tribunal on Palestine

The story of Amina

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, International community, Operation Cast Lead, Pictures, Siege with tags , , , , , , , , , on 25/08/2009 by 3071km

E-mail received: 25 August 2009

Source: International Movement to Open Rafah Border

_____

Amira Al Qarem (15) from Gaza, whose brother, sister and father have been killed during Operation Cast Lead, is determined to get justice and will file a complaint against Israel at the ICJ at The Hague (Netherlands) on August 31st, 2009.

Her story is emblematic of the attack on civilians during Operation Cast Lead in December and January, where 1400 Palestinians, including 300 children, were killed (according to the report by Amnesty International from 2 July 2009).

On 31 August, Amira Al Qarem will go personally to the International Criminal Court, to file the first complaint from a victim of the Israeli operation Cast Lead. She will be assisted by her lawyers and supported by her doctors.

There will be a press conference at The Hague on monday August 31st at 2 pm.

You can read her story here:

Date published: 25 February 2009

Source: Defence for Children International

____

As of 7 February 2009, DCI-Palestine has confirmed the deaths of 304 children, and is investigating a further 96 reports of child fatalities. This means that as many as 400 children could have been killed in Operation Cast Lead.

On Wednesday, 14 January 2009, at around 5:00pm, 14-year-old Amira was on the first floor of her home in Tel al-Hawa in southern Gaza City. She was with her father, brother Ala (13) and sister Ismat (15) when Israeli tanks entered their neighbourhood: “We were very scared,” recalls Amira.

At approximately 6:30pm, Amira’s father, who is the muezzin (person who leads the call to prayer) for the mosque next door left the house to call the Isha (night) prayer. He quickly returned home, and shortly after put the children to bed amidst the sound of nearby shelling and gunfire.

Amira recounts that her father told her and her siblings that he was going to look out the front door of the house to see what is happening. “Sleep and do not be afraid,” he told them. The children fell asleep, but awoke screaming at the sound of a loud explosion just outside their house.

They jumped out of bed and ran to the front door of the house. Amira exited the house first and as she ran several metres beyond the front door, she recalls sensing that she had stepped on a person and froze where she stood. She looked behind her and saw her father lying on the ground and bleeding heavily by their front door. Amira and her siblings, Ala and Ismat, knelt down around their father as they screamed and cried in fear. “Please God, don’t let my father die” Amira repeated as she sat on the ground next to him.

Amira’s brother and sister told her to stay with their father while they went to get an ambulance. Her brother and sister had already run several metres when Amira heard the sound of another explosion. At that moment, she reports feeling her right leg divide into two parts. Amira screamed out in pain and her brother and sister ran back to help her. Amira’s brother tried to move her leg but could not. So Ala and Ismat set off again to find an ambulance, telling Amira not to be afraid. Amira watched them run down the street until they rounded a corner and moved out of sight. She could no longer see her siblings but she could hear their voices shouting, “Ambulance! Ambulance! Please help us.” Moments later, Amira heard the sound of yet another explosion and saw heavy smoke rising from the area where her siblings had gone. She could no longer hear their voices.

Amira sat by her father, pleading with him to wake up but he did not move. She grew afraid when she heard the sound of tanks approaching and crawled back inside her house through the front door. She convinced herself that her father would wake up and follow her inside so she deliberately left the front door open for him. Inside the house, she crawled to the balcony overlooking the street. Moments later, she heard yet another explosion and saw smoke rising from the area where her father was lying. When the smoke cleared, she saw that her father’s legs had been torn from his body. At this point she says, “I knew he was dead.” Exhausted, and numbed by the pain from her right leg, Amira fell asleep on the balcony, waking up to daylight the following morning (Thursday).

Cold and thirsty, Amira struggled into the kitchen to drink some water. As she pulled herself up to stand on her left leg, she fainted and fell to the ground. Amira regained consciousness some time later and was then able to pull herself up to the kitchen sink to drink water from the tap. Afterwards, she crawled outside to where her father’s body lay to retrieve his mobile phone from his pocket. She wanted to give the phone to her father’s cousin who lived about 500 metres away so he could inform her father’s contacts that he had been killed. She dragged herself to his house and knocked on the door, but no one answered.

Amira then covered herself with a nylon sack she found on the ground and with the leaves hanging from a nearby tree in order to stay warm. She remained in this location until the next morning, falling in and out of consciousness throughout the night. She recalls being afraid of the sound of barking dogs, tanks and shellfire. She reported saying to herself “My father will protect me,” each time she felt afraid.

By morning light (Friday), Amira saw that there was a hole in the wall surrounding the nearby house of a journalist she knew well because her older sister had befriended his daughter. Weak and dehydrated, Amira crawled through the hole into the garden and then inside the house in search of water. She found a room with many mattresses and blankets and also a bottle of water from which she drank.

“I crawled and grabbed the bottle of water and quickly began drinking. The water was delicious. I then slept on a mattress and covered myself with a blanket because I was very cold. I could see a helicopter from the shattered window of the room”.

“I slept and woke up several times. […] Once, I crawled into the bathroom and filled the bottle with water from the tap. While crawling back to the room, I saw a jar full of pickled olives thrown on the floor of the kitchen. For sure it was for stock purposes. We used to store pickled olives until they became edible for the year ahead. I grabbed the jar and tried to open it because I was starving, but I failed. I left it there and crawled back to the room. I lay down on the mattress and covered myself. I reckon it was Saturday. I slowly began drinking from the bottle. I did not want to waste water because I did not feel able to go back and fill it”.

More than 60 hours after her ordeal began, Amira was finally discovered when the journalist who owns the house returned and discovered her lying in the room. He had earlier evacuated his family to another location in fear of the imminent arrival of Israeli forces in the neighbourhood. When the journalist asked Amira how she arrived at his home, she responded, “I’m wounded uncle. I’m sorry I entered your house without your permission. I was hesitant to do so, but I did not know any place else to go. Please forgive me.”

Amira was rushed to Shifa Hospital where she underwent immediate surgery to fuse the shattered bones in her right leg. She suffered significant blood loss and required a blood transfusion as a life-saving measure. Four days later, Amira underwent further surgery to rehabilitate her leg.

Amira was placed under the care of a group of French doctors who wanted to send her to France for further treatment to ensure she does not suffer the loss of her lower limb. On 22 January and again on 23 January, Amira, accompanied by her aunt, was taken via ambulance to Rafah crossing to enter Egypt. Both times, they were denied entry by Egyptian officials who shouted abuse at them, accusing them of lying about the extent of Amira’s injury.

As of 5 February 2009, Amira is still in Gaza awaiting permission to enter Egypt via Rafah crossing in order to receive continuing medical treatment abroad. Efforts by delegations of international doctors are ongoing to coordinate and obtain the proper permits for her exit. Amira is exhibiting signs of psychological stress as a result of the trauma she experienced and further delays in her treatment will only set back her recovery.

The use of indiscriminate force in densely populated civilian areas is a violation of international law. All parties are bound by international legal obligations to distinguish between combatants and civilians and take all necessary precautions to minimise civilian casualties when conducting hostilities. All parties must respect the principle of proportionality and necessity when conducting and planning military operations. In the context of densely populated Gaza, military commanders must exercise even greater diligence to minimise harm to civilians. Israel’s use of heavy artillery and tanks in Gaza City’s neighbourhoods is a violation of international law as these weapons are by nature indiscriminate, striking at military and civilian objects without distinction as in the case of this family.

As the surviving victims of Operation Cast Lead struggle to cope in its aftermath, DCI-Palestine continues to call for:

– Unimpeded access for the provision of urgent humanitarian and medical assistance to the Gaza Strip;

– The immediate and permanent lifting of Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip to allow the free flow of people, goods and services in and out of the territory;

– An independent investigation into incidents involving civilian fatalities during Operation Cast Lead, and prompt prosecution in accordance with international law of those found responsible for ordering, planning and carrying out war crimes;

– The annulment of the upgrade of EU-Israel bi-lateral relations approved by the EU-Israel Association Council on 16 June 2008.

        For further information please go to the Gaza Under Attack page.

        Update: As of 25 February, Amira is out of the hospital and residing with relatives in Gaza City. After unsuccessful attempts to enter Egypt via Rafah crossing despite the best efforts by intermediaries, Amira’s injured leg began to exhibit signs of improvement and the risk of amputation was significantly reduced. She continues to receive medical care in Gaza City as she is no longer deemed a priority case for medical evacuation by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Although she displays promising signs of physical recovery, the psychological stress from the trauma she endured are ever present.

        “Severe violations of Human Rights in Occupied Palestinian Territories,” reports UN Committee on Israeli Practices

        Posted in Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, International community, Israeli occupation, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, War crimes, West Bank with tags , , , , , , on 15/08/2009 by 3071km

        Date published: 14th August 2009

        Source: United Nations Office of the High Comissioner for Human Rights

        _____

        GENEVA – DAMASCUS: “Violations of the international humanitarian law during the operation Cast Lead, in particular the targeting of civilian population and wanton destruction of property and religious and cultural objects”, will be reported to the United Nations General Assembly by the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.

        At the end of a ten-day field mission to three Middle Eastern countries, the Special Committee expressed “particular concern for an increasing number of incidents of violence by Jewish settlers against Palestinian population in the West Bank in the presence of Israeli army and police.”

        The three-member panel has also recorded the pressure on human rights defenders, both Israeli and Palestinians working to alleviate the suffering in occupied territories.

        Furthermore, at the General Assembly 64th session this year, the Committee will be noting “continuous and in some cases worsening violations of economic and cultural rights, in particular the right to education and health, further restrictions of movement and attacks on and destruction of Palestinian farmlands and orchards.”

        Since its establishment in 1968, the Special Committee has repeatedly been denied cooperation by the Government of Israel or access to the OPT.

        The Special Committee began its mission in Egypt on 04 August from where it traveled to Jordan and, finally, Syria, where it recorded the testimonies of witnesses and non-governmental organizations of the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and occupied Golan.

        The panel met the foreign ministers in Egypt, Jordan and Syria, as well as members of the League of Arab States, government officials, activists and representatives of Palestinian and Israeli non-governmental organizations. The Committee visited the Palestinian Hospital in Cairo where it heard about the difficulties in accessing health care and obtaining needed medications in the Gaza Strip.

        On its last day in Syria, the Committee visited Quneitra and received testimonies pertaining to the discrimination in access to health services in occupied Golan, restrictions of family visits and other violations of civil, political, economic and cultural rights of Palestinians and Arab populations.

        In its report to the General Assembly, the Committee will draw on exhaustive interviews and testimonies taken during its visits to Cairo, Amman and Damascus, as well as numerous reports by experts including the reports by the High Commissioner of Human Rights, special rapporteurs and many national and international non-governmental organizations. The Committee focused its investigation on the situation in occupied Gaza, West Bank, East Jerusalem and the occupied Golan.

        The Special Committee is composed of three Member States: Sri Lanka (Chairman), Malaysia and Senegal. Ambassador Ali currently chairs the Special Committee, due to the absence of the Sri Lankan Ambassador. Senegal is represented by Ambassador Babacar Mbaye, Permanent Representative of that country to the UN in Geneva, while Ms. Samantha Jayasuriya, counsellor at the Sri Lankan Mission to the UN in New York, is representing her country.

        Under varying membership,The Special Committee has existed since 1968 when it was established by the General Assembly. Its mandate was most recently renewed on 18 December 2008, in a resolution A/RES/63/95 referring to the principles of international humanitarian law, in particular to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and to international standards of human rights, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights.

        Israel condemned over evictions

        Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, History, International community, Israel, Israeli occupation, Pictures, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , on 02/08/2009 by 3071km

        Date published: 2nd August 2009

        Source: BBC News

        _____

        Protester is removed by police from a demonstration outside the homes 2/8/09

        The evictions by Israel sparked protests at the scene

        The US has led international condemnation of Israel after it evicted nine Palestinian families living in two houses in occupied East Jerusalem.

        Washington said the action was not in keeping with Israel’s obligations under the so-called “road map” to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

        Jewish settlers moved into the houses almost immediately.

        Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, a move not recognised by the world community.

        The removal of the 53 people was also condemned by the United Nations, the Palestinians and the UK government.

        Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said he was outraged at the action.

        “Israel is once again showing its utter failure to respect international law,” he said.

        “New settlers from abroad are accommodating themselves and their belongings in the Palestinian houses and 19 newly homeless children will have nowhere to sleep.”

        ‘Deplorable’

        The operation to evict the Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah district of the city was carried out before dawn on Sunday by police clad in black riot gear.

        It followed a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court that Jewish families owned the land. Israel wants to build a block of 20 apartments in the area.

        The families' belongings were put on the street - 2/08/09

        The families’ belongings were put on the street

        “I deplore today’s totally unacceptable actions by Israel,” the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert H Serry said.

        “These actions are contrary to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions related to occupied territory.

        “These actions heighten tensions and undermine international efforts to create conditions for fruitful negotiations to achieve peace.”

        The UK government said the Israeli action was “incompatible with the Israeli professed desire for peace”.

        “We urge Israel not to allow the extremists to set the agenda,” the British Consulate in East Jerusalem said.

        Sovereignty ‘unquestionable’

        Israel considers a united Jerusalem to be the capital of the state of Israel.

        “Our sovereignty over it is unquestionable,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month.

        “We cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live and buy [homes] anywhere in Jerusalem.”

        The BBC’s Tim Franks in Jerusalem says the houses are in what is probably the most contested city on earth and the diplomatic ripples from the evictions will spread.

        There are an estimated 250,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and 200,000 Jews.

        Israel defends conduct during Gaza war

        Posted in Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, IDF, Israel, Operation Cast Lead, Pictures, Videos, War crimes with tags , , , , , , , on 01/08/2009 by 3071km

        Date published: 31st July 2009

        Source: Al Jazeera English

        _____

        Israel has said it will investigate more than a hundred complaints of misconduct by its military during the Gaza war.

        But Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, who was in Gaza during the war, said a new government report was merely trying to absolve Israel of responsibility for its actions and falls far short of what is needed.

        Israel defends Gaza war

        Israel repeated claims that its use of white phosphorus was legal [AFP]

        The Israeli government has said that its war on the Gaza Strip earlier this year, that left up to 1,417 Palestinians dead, was “necessary and proportionate”.

        The government also said on Thursday that it was investigating about 100 complaints of misconduct by its forces during the three week war that began on December 27.

        “Israel had both a right and an obligation to take military action against Hamas in Gaza to stop Hamas’s almost incessant rocket and mortar attacks,” the report published by the foreign ministry said.

        The 163-page document was published ahead of a UN war crimes investigation that is due to be published in August and in the wake of accusations from human rights groups that Israeli forces committed war crimes and violated international law during the war.

        ‘Deliberate use of force’

        Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Jerusalem, said many see the report as a pre-emptive strike to defend the much criticised war.

        She said that the report follows testimonies from witnesses and human rights organisations about soldiers’ conduct during the offensive.

        “What we’ve seen in the past few months since the end of the war are various human rights reports from Amnesty International, the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, as well as testimonies coming out from army soldiers themselves,” Tadros said.

        “What really ties all of these reports together is the idea that there was no proportionality and a deliberate use of force against the civilian population in Gaza.”

        Palestinian officials say 1,417 Palestinians, including 926 civilians, were killed during the 22-day assault which ended in January.

        Israel says that the number killed was considerably lower, and that only 295 of the dead were civilians. Ten Israeli soldiers were killed in the fighting, while three Israeli civilians were killed in rocket attacks.

        The report details steps that the Israeli military says were taken to minimise civilian casualties in Gaza, while claiming that some such casualties were inevitable because Hamas fighters took up positions in crowded neighbourhoods.

        It cited the 2.5 million leaflets dropped on the territory and 165,000 phone calls to civilians warning them to leave targeted areas as evidence of the military’s efforts.

        The report said international law is violated only “when there is an intention to target civilians,” and Israel denied it had such an intention.

        “Under international law, Israel had every right to use military force to defend its civilians,” the report said.

        Independent inquiry urged

        John Ging, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, welcomed the Israeli report as an “acknowledgment that an investigation has to be done into what happened” during the conflict.

        Human rights groups have charged the Israeli army with violating international law during the war [AFP]

        But he told Al Jazeera that the process has taken “far too long” and added that “what we actually need is an independent investigation that is credible for both sides”.”The litmus test is that [any investigation] has to be credible to both sides. As is well documented, both sides have certain concerns and they have to be addressed.

        “We have to see the rule of international law applied and upheld, even-handedly, with the confidence of both populations.”

        The report also defended Israel’s controversial use of the chemical agent white phosphorus in the conflict, saying its use was in accordance with Israeli law.

        The Israeli army “used munitions containing white phosphorus” in Gaza, the government report said, but denied firing such weapons inside populated areas.

        International law permits the use of white phosphorus – which can cause severe burns – as an “obscurant” to cover troop movements and prevent enemies from using certain guided weapons.


        Israel says investigating 100 Gaza war complaints

        Posted in Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, IDF, Operation Cast Lead, War crimes with tags , , , , , on 30/07/2009 by 3071km

        Date published: 30th July 2009

        Source: Reuters

        _____

        JERUSALEM, July 30 (Reuters) – Israel said Thursday it was investigating 100 complaints of misconduct by its forces in a Gaza offensive this year and admitted its troops had fired white phosphorous munitions but not in violation of international law.
        A 163-page government statement issued in anticipation of a United Nations war crimes investigation headed for completion next month defended the 22-day as a “necessary and proportionate” response to Hamas rocket fire at Israel.
        Some 1,400 Palestinians, many of them civilians, and 13 Israelis were killed in the Dec. 27-Jan. 18 operation and Israel has repeatedly rebuffed war crimes charges by several human rights groups.
        In its report published by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Israel calls the war its response to shootings by Hamas Islamist militants in Gaza of 12,000 rockets over eight years alongside suicide bombings that killed 1,100 in Israel.
        It restated Israel’s insistence it complied with international law in the 22-day campaign, adding it was “conducting comprehensive investigations” into 100 pending complaints after inquiries from U.N. and human rights groups.
        Thirteen criminal files have also been opened, most involving allegations Israeli soldiers used civilians as human shields or perpetrated property damage, the report added.
        Israel previously has said internal investigations by its armed forces had found no evidence of serious misconduct by troops in the Gaza fighting.
        Israel also admitted outright for the first time in the report that its army had “used munitions containing white phosphorous” in Gaza, but denied violating international law, saying it had not fired such weapons inside populated areas.
        Previously Israel had said it was investigating allegations that it fired weapons with phosphorous, which cause serious burns, without directly denying or confirming it had done so.
        Israel has not cooperated with a United Nations probe headed by former chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone, accusing the organisation of bias against the Jewish state.
        But the investigation due in August seemed a catalyst behind Israel’s report, in addition to charges published this month by 30 Israeli veterans saying they were encouraged to minimise their own casualties rather than avoid civilian deaths in Gaza.
        “There are constant efforts to keep this issue on the agenda, and we reached the conclusion we should prepare a complete explanation so there would be a clear Israeli statement as to why we did what we did and how,” an Israeli ministry official said.

        Racism, boycott and a big dose of hypocrisy

        Posted in International community, International conferences, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Palestine, Siege with tags , , , , , , , , on 01/05/2009 by 3071km

        Written by Isabelle Humphries

        Date: 28 April 2009

        Source: The Electronic Intifada

        _____

        Mainstream reports on the last UN Durban Review Conference on racism seem only to highlight Ahmadinejad’s discourse and its boycott by Western leaders. However, such reports dismiss the failure of the Conference on discussing racism and its causes.

        In this article, Isabelle Humphries writes on the failure of the international community to tackle about Zionism, the different approaches towards boycott of Western leaders, and the hipocrisy of the international community when it comes to adressing Palestinian issues.

        International activists seeking justice in Palestine call for a radical reflection on the overall framework of Zionism, which as an ideology prioritizes the rights of one racial group over another. While no one was expecting that the Durban Review Conference would adopt an apartheid analogy, in recent years many senior international figures have sharply criticized Israel’s systematic discrimination against the Palestinians. While Palestinians are as aware as any other occupied nation that UN resolutions do not necessarily lead to international action, nevertheless the document resulting from the Durban 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) was considered something of a landmark. Dismissed as “anti-Semitic” by the usual US-Israeli suspects, the declaration named Palestinians as specific victims of racism. Though it failed to mention the source of this racism, many civil society organizations saw Durban as a useful conceptual framework for combating the racism at the heart of the protracted plight of the Palestinians.

        The Durban Review Conference held last week was initially intended to be a forum to evaluate the progress towards goals set eight years ago. But bullying tactics by certain European/North American states ensured that the draft Durban Review Conference declaration excluded any criticism of Israel. In the planning process original “offensive” statements such as those referring to “unlawful collective punishment” and “torture” were removed. Israel, Canada and the US — under both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama — had no intention of allowing a repeat of the language of 2001. All three boycotted the process from the start. Obama initially rejoined the planning stage but pulled out again.Despite the fiasco of the main event, a successful two-day conference sponsored by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) brought a group of international legal experts and activists together to examine and develop possibilities of using legal instruments to combat Israeli racism.

        The hypocrisy of being told by European politicians and media that boycotts against Israel are either anti-Semitic or counter-productive, yet to be instructed that boycott of Ahmadinejad or even the whole UN racism conference is right and justifiable leaves anyone dedicated to justice fuming. That’s what I feel like — I can only imagine how Palestinians feel to be let down by the international community. Again.