Israel ‘Guilty,’ says Russell Tribunal on Palestine
By Dolores Cox
November 25, 2012
New York — The Russell Tribunal is an International People’s
Tribunal organized to bring to light Israel’s recognized violations of
international law and to advocate for an end to the Israeli occupation of
Palestine and Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights.
This fourth and final international session of the Russell Tribunal on
Palestine focused on “U.S. Complicity and U.N. Failings in Dealings with
Israel’s Violations of International Law toward the Palestinian
The New York Tribunal on Palestine was held at historic Cooper
Union on Oct. 6-7, following sessions held in Barcelona, which focused on the
European Union’s complicity; in London, focusing on corporate
complicity; and in Cape Town, South Africa, focusing on the crime of apartheid.
In New York, before a packed audience, the Tribunal focused on the United
Nations and U.S. responsibility in denying self-determination to the
Palestinian people, as well as in upholding Israel’s complete disregard
for international law.
Invitations to the Tribunal were extended to the U.S. and Israel, both of
whom failed to respond.
Jury members were Dennis Banks, Angela Davis, John Dugard, Miguel Angel
Estrella, Stephane Hessel, Ronnie Kasrils, Mairead Maguire, Cynthia McKinney,
Michael Mansfield, Alice Walker and Roger Waters. Chairpersons were Pierre
Galand and Stephane Hessel. Testimonies and jury responses were heard from 20
witnesses and experts.
The jury of this final Russell Tribunal session heard testimony on: the
birth of Zionism and its impact on the Palestinians, including the U.N.’s
involvement in Palestinian and Israeli policies since 1948; the role of the
U.N. in the obstruction of Palestinians’ right to self-determination; the
role of the U.S. in supporting violations of Palestinian rights; the role of
the U.S., NGO’s [non-governmental organizations] and the international
civil society in moving forward; and the issue of sociocide from Native
Americans to Palestinians.
On the second day of the Tribunal, the parents of Rachel Corrie, who was
mowed down and killed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to prevent a
Palestinian home from being demolished, gave an updated report on their efforts
to obtain justice for their daughter’s killing.
On Oct. 8 at the U.N. Plaza in a press conference, the jury presented its
findings. Juror Angela Davis stated that “people are shocked to discover
the conditions in Palestine not only replicate apartheid in South Africa. They
are far worse.” She urged people to take action in supporting and
spreading the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign against
The jurors concluded that “Israel’s on-going colonial settlement
expansion, its racial separatist policies, as well as its violent militarism,
would not be possible without the U.S.’s unequivocal economic, military
and diplomatic support, and aid to Israel in order to establish military
superiority over its Arab neighbors, in violation of the U.S.’s own
domestic law.” They found the U.S. to be guilty of complicity with
Israel’s human rights violations of the Palestinian people.
Strengthen solidarity with Palestine
The U.N. was found to be in violation of international law for its failure
to prevent and take concrete action against the severity of Israel’s war
crimes, crimes against humanity, the crimes of
apartheid and genocide, and by not exhausting all peaceful means of
pressure available to it, as stipulated in the U.N. Charter. The jury concluded
that the U.N. must do more toward cessation of Israel’s wrongful acts and
its impunity, and that it must compensate the Palestinians for the damage
The jurors found Israel in violation of Palestinian fundamental economic,
social and cultural rights and freedoms, including the right of the Palestinian
people to self-determination, prohibiting the return of Palestinian refugees to
their homes and discriminating policies and practices.
Israel was found in violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions and
the U.N. Charter requiring a complete withdrawal from the occupied territory,
and was condemned for its annexation of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza
The Tribunal concluded that “the present system of international
justice is incapable to bring about change. However, change can be
achieved by the mobilization of international public opinion, especially in the
U.S. and Israel, towards a just society based on equality before the law, via
the various manifestations of civic society: networks, movements with
particular emphasis upon the BDS movement, trade unions and other
The jury emphasized that the oppressive situation of the Palestinians
is urgent! Israel’s pretense of being a democracy is a sham. It has never
wanted peace. They determined that Israel needs to be sanctioned. They cannot
make legal what is illegal.
The Russell Tribunal declared its commitment to continue its work on
Palestine by “monitoring progress and disseminating information.”
The Tribunal encouraged strengthening of the Palestinian solidarity
movement, advancement of international law and its applicability to Palestine
and Palestinians, and raising awareness about Israeli settler-colonialism
and the grave injustices committed against the Palestinians under
Israel’s brutal 64-year military occupation.