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Russell Tribunal on Palestine: Kangaroo Courts Extraordinary Session on Israels Crimes in Gaza
- On August 18, 2014, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) announced an “Extraordinary session” on “Israel’s Crimes in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.” The RToP session plans to consider alleged “Israel’s Crimes (including War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and the Crime of Genocide)…as well as third States complicity.”
- As seen in previous Russell Tribunals, RToP has no judicial basis and exploits a legal facade in order to create an appearance of neutrality and credibility. The sessions have included “jurors” who examine expert “witnesses,” with the “findings” later published. The witnesses and jurors are biased, the outcome is predetermined, and the findings have no credibility.
- Past sessions of the RToP demonized Israel by falsely accusing it of “apartheid,” “collective punishment,” and “war crimes.”
- Some RToP witnesses and jurors are key figures in boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel.
- See NGO Monitor’s website for more background on the Russell Tribunal, the key figures involved, and the political objectives that motivate these actors.
- The first Russell Tribunal was founded in 1966 by British philosopher Bertrand Russell and French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Seeking to publicize alleged American violations of human rights in Vietnam, Bertrand Russell sought to create a “people’s court,” similar in style to the post-World War II Nuremberg trials.
- The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) was created in March 2009. The RToP held five sessions between March 2010 and March 2013 – in Barcelona, London, Cape Town, New York City, and Brussels.
- The RToP announced its plan to hold an “extraordinary session” on August 18, 2014, during the conflict in Gaza. It is scheduled to take place in Brussels on September 24, 2014.
- RToP is attempting to raise €50,000 in order to fund the session.
RToP jury members connection to Muslim Brotherhood
- In early 2014, following the 2013 coup in Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood officials launched a legal campaign to bring charges against the Egyptian military at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Muslim Brotherhood’s legal team includes RToP jury members John Dugard and Michael Mansfield.
- As in the past, the RToP session will only considers alleged Israeli crimes, ignoring those committed by Muslim Brotherhood affiliate Hamas.
- Many of the “witnesses” invited to “testify” are radical and extreme anti-Israel activists, and include representatives from European government-funded NGOs.
- “Witnesses” include: Raji Sourani, director of the European-funded Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Ivan Karakashian, Advocacy Unit Coordinator at Defence for Children International Palestine; Eran Efrati, formerly of Breaking the Silence; Colonel Desmond Travers, a member of the discredited Goldstone Commission; Agnes Bertrand, advocacy officer at APRODEV (Belgian association comprised of Christian NGOs based in Europe, and affiliated with World Council of Churches); Michael Deas, European coordinator of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee and a contributor to Electronic Intifada; and physician/activist Mads Gilbert.
- The “jury” of the RToP session is composed of many known anti-Israel activists, whose bias against Israel is well established.
- “Jurors” include Richard Falk and John Dugard, former UN rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; Michael Mansfield, a British lawyer who called Israel “A state of Apartheid”; Ronnie Kasrils, former South African politician who accused Israel of inflicting “nazi-style collective punishment on the embattled population of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank of Palestine”; Roger Waters, musician and activist in BDS campaigns; Christiane Hessel, widow of former “juror” Stéphane Hessel, who signed a letter stating Israel was “repeatedly and flagrantly violating the law of armed conflict” in the Gaza conflict; Ken Loach, a British filmmaker who “called for a boycott of all cultural and sporting events supported by the Israeli state”; Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian writer who wrote an op-ed called “Dead Palestinian children in Gaza tell story of impunity”; and members of RToP’s Support Committee.
- As noted above, Dugard and Mansfield are currently part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s legal team. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Funding of the RToP
- RToP funding is not transparent. RToP is attempting to raise €50,000 for the session.
- The Barcelona 2009 session was supported by a €56,000 grant from the Barcelona municipality.
- In 2011, the RToP 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 was €190,000. Editions Indigene, the publisher of former “juror” Stéphane Hessel’s book Time for an Outrage, donated €100,000. €15,000 was raised at a September 24, 2011 fundraising event by the Belgian support committee of the Russell Tribunal.
- European-government funded NGOs, whose representatives are scheduled to appear at the RToP include:
- Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)
- Funded by the European Union, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, the The Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (the “Secretariat –joint funding from the governments of Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands), Open Society Foundation, Christian Aid (UK), Grassroots International (US), Kvina Till Kvina (Sweden), Al-Quds Association Malaga (Spain), Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), and DanChurchAid (Denmark).
- In August 2014, PCHR received “emergency funding” from the Secretariat to document “human rights and international humanitarian law violations during the course of Israel’s ongoing military offensive on the Gaza Strip.”
- PCHR joined efforts with Al Mezan, Al Haq, and Addameer, “in order to document war crimes committed by the occupation forces during the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip” “in preparation for the criminal prosecution of Israeli war criminals and to be submitted to the International Commission of Inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council in its meeting held last month.”
- Defence for Children International –Palestine Section (DCI-PS)
- According to its 2012 annual report (latest available, accessed September 2, 2014), DCI-PS acknowledges the support and contributions of: the Secretariat, European Union, ICCO and Kerk in Actie (Netherlands), EED (Germany), Save the Children International, Stichting Kinderpostzegeks Nederlands (Netherlands), ARCI Cultura e Sviluppo (Italy), Mundubat (Spain), Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), the United Nations Development Programme, Swiss Interchurch Aid- HEKS, World Vision, The United Methodist Church, The United Church of Canada, Solidarity Fund. Does not disclose donation amounts.
- In August 2014, DCIP received “emergency funding” from the Secretariat to document “human rights and international humanitarian law violations during the course of Israel’s ongoing military offensive on the Gaza Strip.”