Gerald Steinberg debate with John Dugard,
Russell Tribunal on Palestine “witness” and UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur

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Gerald Steinberg:

I saw the results of the kind of propaganda and injustice [expressed by] individuals like Mr. Dugard and others participating in the so-called Russell Tribunal, which correctly is definitely a kangaroo court – [characterized by] distortion and misinformation. So I want to explain to your listeners, to you, and perhaps to Mr. Dugard, who in fact knows nothing about Israel, about the Jewish people and the Jewish nation. He was an appointee of the Libyan-chaired United Nations Human Rights Commission, which is also a farce. 

Mr. Dugard is one of the leading bearers of these false witnesses [and] one of the leading people who has made these false claims. …I would hope is that in the Russell Tribunal, people will stand up and say this really is a kangaroo court, that they repeat the words of Judge Richard Goldstone, who said that this was absolutely despicable, that this was a slander. Let us seek truth and justice together; not as an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian propaganda exercise, but in terms of human understanding, of peace, of accepting the fact that the Jewish people have a right to self-determination.

[O]ver a thousand Israelis, many of them children,… were blown to bits by suicide bombers, who are acting in a very fanatical way. And Mr. Dugard, who is supposed to be representing human rights, and many of the people who participate in this so-called kangaroo court, (the Russell Tribunal), are claiming to have some sort of moral basis, and yet they never mention these victims of attacks, all these Israeli victims. The victims have become in many ways, in the propaganda, the aggressors and oppressors, seen as responsible for this violence, Hamas and Fatah, and all these other groups, are seen as heroes, and that is completely immoral; it is completely unjust.

Like the black peoples of South Africa, we are reclaiming our rights. We are not going to be occupied any more; we are not going to be enslaved any more. And that history, which [begins]… well before the so-called occupation, is never mentioned by Mr. Dugard.

John Dugard: 

The Russell Tribunal is not anti-Israel, and I wish to make very clear, that I accept the existence of Israel as a state. I fully accept the right to the Jewish people to self-determination within the territory of Israel.

I think one must accept that in a situation of occupation, inevitably, there will be resistance to the occupation. We saw that during the Second World War, when there were resistance movements in countries like France, which committed what one might describe as acts of terrorism or acts of freedom fighters against the occupying power. And of course, we had the same situation in South Africa during the apartheid years. The ANC essentially led a war of resistance against the apartheid regime. So, however despicable terrorism may be, one must accept that when a people is occupied, it is going to use force to secure its liberation.

Gerald Steinberg:

We need to have a serious peace-process, in which the people of both groups, both countries –Israelis, Jews, Palestinians, Arabs – sit down and talk to each other as equals. Not in terms of [calls] to throw [Jews] in to the sea, not in terms of saying “we do not recognize your right to exist or to have independence.” But that unfortunately has been the position of the Palestinian leadership and much of the Arab leadership for decades.

This Russell Tribunal, which is a kangaroo court, is not going to contribute anything to peace, it contributes to conflict and violence. It justifies hatred, and that is absolutely immoral.

If Mr. Dugard had spent the last 20 years, instead of being part of these kangaroo courts, saying exactly what he just said a minute ago on the radio – that the Jewish people do have the right to sovereign equality and self-determination – and promoting a two-state solution, he would have convinced many of his Palestinian colleagues to accept that.