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Russell Tribunal on Palestine


FoundedMarch 4, 2009 by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation.
In their own words“An International People’s Tribunal created by a large group of citizens involved in the promotion of peace and justice in the Middle East.”


  • With no judicial basis, the RToP uses a legal façade to create an image of neutrality and credibility.  The sessions have “jurors” examining expert “witnesses,” and the “findings” are then published. The use of legal terms and concepts such as “witnesses” and “jurors” belies the complete lack of legal legitimacy and basic notions of impartiality and fairness integral to any legal proceedings.
  • The RToP is one of the “Peoples Tribunals”, instituted in 1966 by British philosopher Bertrand Russell, working with Jean Paul Satre and others. The first “tribunal” was called to investigate the alleged war crimes of the United States’ and its allies in Vietnam.   The original Russell Tribunal was heavily criticized, with even Richard Falk (Now RToP Patron) calling the original tribunal a “juridicial farce”. Over the years, other Russell Tribunals were held on human rights violations in Latin America (1973), abuse of rights in psychiatric treatment (2001), and the second Iraq war (2006 – part of the World Tribunal on Iraq).
  • The fourth session of the RToP scheduled for New York on October 6-7, 2012 will consider alleged “US complicity and UN failings in dealing with Israel’s violations of International Law towards the Palestinian people.”
  • Among the “jurors” for the New York session is Cynthia McKinney, a former member of the US Congress. McKinney claims that President Bush had advance knowledge of the September 11 attacks, and wrote an open letter to Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal in support of his comments that the 9/11 attacks were an indication that the United States should rethink its policies regarding Israel and the Palestinians. McKinney also failed to distance herself from her father’s assertions that her 2002 election defeat was because “Jews have bought everybody. Jews. J-e-w-s”; during her campaign, her entourage included members of The New Black Panther Party, who made racist and antisemitic remarks.
  • The “witnesses” in New York include Huwaida Arraf, a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who wrote: “Hamas claims it has many men ready to be suicide bombers – we advocate that these men offer themselves as martyrs by standing on a settler road and blocking it from traffic. This is no less of a jihad. This is no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation. And we are certain that if these men were killed during such an action, they would be considered shaheed Allah…The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics – both nonviolent and violent. But most importantly it must develop a strategy involving both aspects.” Arraf is joined by veteran anti-Israel campaigner, Noam Chomsky who has a long record of criticizing US foreign policy — Chomsky compared President Bush to a Nazi war criminal and stated that Bush’s “crimes vastly exceeded Bin Laden’s”; and activist Ben White who wrote, “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are.”
  • The first session in Barcelona (March 1-3, 2010) “considered” – “complicities and omissions of the European Union and its member states in the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel and the perpetuation of the violations of international law committed by Israel, in total impunity.” The second session held in London (Nov 20-22, 2010) “examined International corporate complicity in Israel’s Violations of International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, and War Crimes.” The third session of the RToP, held in Cape Town (Nov 5-6, 2011), “considered” – “Are Israel practices against the Palestinian People in breach of the prohibition on apartheid under International Law?”
  • In contrast to the façade of impartiality, British solicitor Michael Mansfield – a “juror” for the Cape Town session – stated prior to the session that RToP will examine “how much worse the situation in Israel is to the situation in South Africa that was – namely apartheid. A state of Apartheid.” (video, 18:40)
  • The Tribunal’s “Support Committee” includes anti-Israel activists John Dugard, Judith Butler, and Naomi Klein; representatives from political advocacy NGOs such as ICAHD; and Goldstone Mission member Hila Jilani.
  • Cape Town RToP “Witnesses” included: Shawan Jabarin, alleged senior PFLP activist and director of the European-funded Al Haq; Raji Sourani, director of the EU-funded PCHR; Ingrid Jadarat, of European-funded Badil; Jeff Halper, head of the European-funded ICAHD; and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a prominent supporter of the BDS movement.
  • On funding, the Barcelona 2009 session was supported by a €56,000 grant from the Barcelona municipality.
  • On April 20, 2011, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine was registered as a non-profit organization in Belgium. According to Pierre Galand, international co-coordinator of the Tribunal, the budget for the Cape Town session is €190,000. €100,000 was donated by Editions Indigene, the publisher of the book Time for an Outrage. €15,000 was raised at a September 24, 2011 fundraising event by the Belgian support committee of the Russell Tribunal.

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