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Commentary :: War and Militarism
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine
18 May 2009
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine will "address the failure of application of law even though it has been so clearly identified." It begins where the ICJ "stopped: highlighting the responsibilities arising from the enunciation of law, including those of the international community, which cannot continue to shirk its obligations."
Photo of Nakba: The 1948 Palestinian exodus of almost 1 million people from their land.
After two years of "underground" work, it was launched with a "successful press conference" and announcement that:

"The Russell Tribunal on Palestine seeks to reaffirm the primacy of international law as the (way to settle) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Its work will focus on "the enunciation of law by authoritative bodies. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its opinion on the (Separation Wall in Occupied Palestine, addressed relevant) "International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, as well as dozens of international resolutions concerning Palestine."

This Tribunal will "address the failure of application of law even though it has been so clearly identified." It begins where the ICJ "stopped: highlighting the responsibilities arising from the enunciation of law, including those of the international community, which cannot continue to shirk its obligations."

The Russell Tribunal is part of the larger BRussell Tribunal, named after noted philosopher, mathematician, and anti-war/anti-imperialism activist Bertrand Russell (1972 - 1970). Established in 1967 to investigate Vietnam war crimes, it's a hearing committee, most recently on the Iraq war and Bush administration imperialism. Its work continues as "the only game in town for the anti-war movement in America, Britain and Europe" - to unite non-violently for peace on various world's hot spots, now for Occupied Palestine to expose decades of injustice against a defenseless civilian population.

National committees will be formed globally, including expert ones composed of jurists, lawyers, human rights and international law experts, weapons experts, and others "to work on the evidence against Israel and third parties" to be presented in Tribunal sessions. Two are planned, "the the end of this year."

Frank Barat of the Organizing Committee urges activists to spread the news and offer support for this vital project. After Israel's unconscionable Gaza attack, it's never been more vulnerable given mass world public outrage. It's long past time to hold Israel accountable for its decades of crimes of war and against humanity, flaunting international humanitarian law, waging aggressive wars, continuing an illegal occupation, expropriating Palestinian land, and committing slow-motion genocide, so far with impunity. No longer can this be tolerated. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is dedicated toward that end.

The Tribunal's Declaration on Iraq applies to Palestine. Substituting Israel for America and Palestine for Iraq, it reads as follows:

"The (Israeli) occupation of (Palestine) is illegal and cannot be made legal. All that has derived from (it) is illegal and illegitimate and cannot gain legitimacy. The facts are incontrovertible. What are the consequences?"

"Peace, stability and democracy in (Palestine) are impossible under occupation. Foreign occupation is opposed by nature to the interests of the occupied people, as proven" by:

-- the forced diaspora;

-- many others internally displaced or in refugee camps for decades;

-- harsh military subjugation;

-- a regimented matrix of control;

-- the genocidal Gaza siege;

-- state-sponsored mass incarceration, violence, and torture;

-- the flaunting of international law and dozens of UN resolutions;

-- targeted assassinations;

-- the many tens of thousands of Palestinians killed, injured, or otherwise grievously harmed;

-- massive land theft and home demolitions;

-- the lack of judicial redress;

-- denying all rights to non-Jews; and

-- a decades-long reign of terror against defenseless Palestinian civilians.

Western propaganda tries to justify the unjustifiable, vilify ordinary people, call the legitimate government "terrorist," rationalize savage attacks as self-defense, reject the rights of the occupied, and deny their self-determination.

"In (Palestine, people) resist the occupation by all means (including armed struggle), in accordance with international law. "The Commission on Human Rights has routinely reaffirmed" it. So have numerous General Assembly resolutions. The March 1987 Geneva Declaration on Terrorism states:

"Terrorism originates from the statist system of structural violence and domination that denies the right of self-determination to peoples....that inflicts a gross and consistent pattern of violations of fundamental human rights....or that perpetuates military aggression and overt or covert intervention directed against the territorial integrity or political independence of other states," such as Palestine.

The UN General Assembly has "repeatedly recognized" the rights of "peoples who are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination (to) have the right to use force to accomplish their objectives within the framework of international humanitarian law."

It also recognizes the legitimacy of self-determination seeking national liberation movements and their right to strive for and receive appropriate support for their struggle. Further, under the UN Charter's Article 51, "individual or collective self-defense (shall not be "impair(ed) to respond against) an armed attack."

In other words, armed force is a legitimate form of self-defense as distinguished from "acts of international terrorism," especially by one state against another or any group, organization, or individual. Israel refuses to accept this. It continues an illegal occupation, calls armed resistance "terrorism," and imposes its will oppressively and illegally.

World leaders "continue to justify the negation of popular sovereignty under the rubric of (fighting terrorism), criminalizing not only resistance but also humanitarian assistance to a besieged (and beleaguered) people. Under international law, (Palestinian freedom-fighters) constitute a national liberation movement. Recognition of (them) is consequently a right, (an obligation, and) not an option." World leaders have a duty to hold Israel accountable under the law and no longer support its crimes.

Palestine "cannot recover lasting stability, unity and territorial integrity until its sovereignty is (recognized, affirmed,) guaranteed," and enforced by the world international community.

"If (world leaders) and (Israel want) peace, stability and democracy in (Palestine), they should accept that only the (Palestinian) resistance - armed, civil and political - can achieve these by securing the interests of (their) people. (Their) first the unconditional withdrawal of (Israeli forces) illegally occupying" their land.

Palestinians are the only legitimate force to secure their own security and rights under international law. "All laws, contracts (and other occupation-related) agreements....are unequivocally null and void. According to international law and the will of the (Palestinian) people, total sovereignty" over Palestine, its resources, culture, and all else (past, present, and future) rests in (their own) hands.

Further, international law demands that full " paid" to compensate for what Israel plundered and destroyed. Palestinians want self-determination and "long-term peace" and security. They have every right to expect it. "We appeal to all peace loving people in the world to work to support" their struggle. Regional "peace, democracy, progress" and justice depend on it. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is committed to work toward this end. Nothing short of it is acceptable.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen (at)

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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Come to Palestine!
16 May 2009
Thinking of Coming to Palestine?
Interested in Being a Responsible Solidarity Activist?
Palestine Solidarity Project Needs YOU!

The Palestine Solidarity Project offers a unique opportunity for activists from around the world to have an integrated, educational experience as they work in solidarity with a Palestinian organization in their struggle for liberation. PSP is based in Beit Ommar, a village in the southern West Bank with a long history of popular, unarmed resistance. It is also subjected to some of the most intense repression by the Israeli military and is surrounded by right-wing extremist settlements on three sides. While there is a need for solidarity work all over occupied Palestine, Beit Ommar is an important place for internationals to learn about and participate in Palestinian popular resistance and support the work of Palestinian community organizers.

What We Believe

PSP believes that the struggle against Israeli Occupation can and must be led by Palestinians themselves. Internationals are needed on the ground, but in a supporting capacity, rather than an organizing one. Our role is to learn from and support the Palestinian struggle, and then use our personal experiences to raise awareness of the situation and implement action in our own countries.

Our Goal

Our goal is for every international to leave Palestine with the knowledge needed to organize effectively in their home countries to support Palestinian self-determination and liberation, and the relationships with a wide range of average Palestinians who lead extraordinary lives as community leaders and organizers.

Our Structure

PSP is made up of a committee of Palestinians that works closely with a variety of other community groups and individuals in Beit Ommar and the surrounding villages. We also have an international coordinator, an American who has spent over two years in Beit Ommar and 5 years working in Palestine and is here to show new international volunteers the ropes. As of April, 2009, two of our founding members are in Israeli prisons, held without charge or trial. We are clearly making an impact to be so targeted, but it also means we need help now more than ever.

Previous Experience

PSP is great for people who have never been to Palestine before and those who may have worked extensively in Palestine and are looking for an organization that will allow them to work more closely with a single Palestinian community.

What We Are Looking For

PSP is looking for flexible, open-minded, energetic people of all backgrounds. In order to work in Palestine with us you must be willing to adhere to local customs and traditions, even if they are not what you are accustomed to or necessarily agree with. People can participate at all different levels: teaching, participating in demonstrations, writing, video editing, the list goes on. We are always looking for Arabic speakers, and people with special skills in computers, videography, and photography. We only ask that volunteers are open to doing what is needed, realizing that it might not always be what they expect. Palestine is an unpredictable place but the support you’ll receive from your Palestinian hosts, International Coordinator and international peers will be in-depth, ongoing, and second to none.

What You’ll Be Doing

Palestine Solidarity Project has three main tracts of work:

1. Organizing and supporting non-violent direct action and demonstrations against the structures of Israeli Occupation, including anti-wall demonstrations, roadblock removals, and other fun stuff (see our website under “direct action”).
2. Documenting, reporting, and intervening in violations of human rights abuses, and, training Palestinians on how to do this themselves effectively (this is the central program of our Freedom Center).
3. Supporting Palestinian self-sufficiency via our Women’s Embroidery Cooperative and greenhouse.

All of these tracts need support from international volunteers. Whether you’re interested in going to demonstrations or teaching English to future human rights observers; removing roadblocks or videotaping others doing it, you can find a way to fit in. We do a lot of writing, videotaping and photographing.

**We are also implementing a program for educating internationals:
We have Arabic lessons, reading materials, and information on lectures and tours available from organizations such as the Alternative Information Center and others. It is essential to our vision that international volunteers leave Palestine with concrete information on the overall situation here so that they can speak/write/sing about it effectively when they return home.

PLEASE NOTE: We do not create popular resistance in Palestine. We are accountable to Palestinian communities and are responsive to the “temperature” at the time. Things can change very quickly in Palestine so if you are expecting direct action every week, you may be disappointed. Likewise, please remember that no matter how many precautions you take, internationals in PSP are often expected to intervene in violent situations; it is not the organization for adventure tourism.

We have a long-term vision: build the capacity of Palestinians to organize and advocate for themselves and creating a network of accountable international supporters who are willing to work in their own countries towards the liberation of Palestine.

If this sounds like the organization for you, Please see our website for more detailed information about how to join us.

And send us your filled out Questionnaire via the website, or email at: palestineproject (at)
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