In mid-March, a report commissioned by the UN Agency ESCWA (Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia) was released, that concluded unequivocally that Israel practises Apartheid policy. It saw official daylight for two days. The UN pulled the report and removed it from the UN website, after intense pressure from the US and Israel.
Now you see it , now you don’t.
The 74-page report was produced by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley.
Richard Falk is Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, as well as former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Occupied Palestine . He is the author of many books on global issues, including Palestine: the Legitimacy of Hope. Professor Falk has always combined his academic work with political activism. Since 2005, he has chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His wife, also a highly qualified academic, is co-director of the Project on Global Climate Change, Human Security, and Democracy
I mention all of that , to make the point that this is a man of high calibre, to be listened to with respect. The world needs people like Richard Falk .
Virginia Tilley is an American political scientist specialising in the comparative study of ethnic and racial conflict. She is Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Professor Tilley is the author of The One State Solution and Beyond Occupation.
Both academics have a strong commitment to international law and justice . America has produced well educated, intelligent academics committed to speaking out for a better world. Unfortunately such people are not just ignored, but despised by the American political and financial élite.
Should Israel be sheltered from criticism?
South Africans with first-hand experience of living under their former apartheid regime are shocked by the treatment of Palestinians. Retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in 2010, ” The abuses the Palestinians face are real and no person should be offended by principled, morally consistent, non-violent acts to oppose them. It is no more wrong to call out Israel in particular for its abuses than it was to call out the Apartheid regime in South Africa in particular for its abuses.”
Ronnie Kasrils, former Minister of Intelligence Services, Republic of South Africa, has said, “Like many fellow South Africans, while visiting the Occupied Palestinian Territories I’ve been shocked to see Israel following the oppressive policies of the apartheid regime that we fought for decades.”
Not everyone buckles under pressure.
Rima Khalaf, Executive Secretary ESCWA, refused to remove the report and resigned in protest. “I resigned because it is my duty not to conceal a clear crime, and I stand by all the conclusions of the report. “She referred in her letter of resignation, to the pressure the UN was under. “I am unsurprised that these states, which are run today by governments with little concern for international principles and human rights, should resort to tactics of fearmongering and threats when they fail to defend their policies and practices which violate the law. It makes sense that a criminal would attack those who defend the cause of his victims, but I find myself incapable of bowing to such pressures, and not because of my role as an employee of the United Nations, but simply as a sane human being. “
The ESCWA report was saved in time from disappearing down Orwell’s Memory Hole by some alert observers. It can be found on the mondoweiss website.
BishopTutu has said, ” If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” We know which side Richard Falk, Virginia Tilley and Rima Khalaf have chosen.
Lois Griffiths is a human rights activist and Palestinian rights activist.