Russell Tribunal on Palestine presents Ken Loach at Amnesty

Ewa Jasiewicz, Dr Ghada Karmi, Frank Barat, Paul Troop, Ken Loach

Ewa Jasiewicz, Dr Ghada Karmi, Frank Barat, Paul Troop, Ken Loach

Last night at Amnesty International in London, against a backdrop of a quote by Bertrand Russell (“May this tribunal prevent the crime of silence”), sat four anti-Israel activists and Paul Troop, a solicitor, presenting the raison d’etre of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

The first Russell Tribunal was convened in 1967 in Sweden and Denmark to harness public opinion against the Vietnam War, but it was largely ignored as being merely a show trial.

And so to the second Russell Tribunal, this time on Palestine. It is due to convene over three days at the Law Society in London on the 20,21 and 22 November.

Over that weekend some 20 or so companies are due to be put on trial for complicity with “Israeli war crimes”.

Israel is not on trial, the companies are.

It will already be presumed that Israel is in breach of international law and has committed crimes against humanity.

When I asked Paul Troop where such breaches of international law are judicially laid down the best he could do was direct me to the “opinion” of the International Court of Justice on the wall dividing Israel from the Palestinians.

None of the companies on trial will be represented. Letters have been sent but none have yet responded to say they will be present.

Dr. Ghada Karmi spoke of the Palestinian issue being the moral issue of our time. This polemic is freely bandied around by anti-Israel activists and makes people whince since we know that 3,000 children die every day in Africa from AIDS, malnutrition, malaria and other diseases when they shouldn’t be in this age.

Dr. Karmi cited Cast Lead and the siege of Gaza and was outraged that Israel had not even apologised over something as clearcut as the deaths on the Mavi Marmara.

She said that Israel was now too woven into the fabric of the international system and because of this was never being called to account. There is no major organisation or state that backs the Palestinians.

She felt that the Palestinian case is based on hard international law and looked to the RTOP to, hopefully, get the campuses active and harness the intellectuals.

There is “corporate complicity” with Israel but imagine, she said, if all these companies withdrew their investments from Israel.

Ewa Jasiewicz spoke next. According to the Community Security Trust Jasiewicz recently helped desecrate the walls of the Warsaw ghetto, which is now a cemetery to the 100,000 Jews who died there during the Holocaust from disease, starvation and random executions by the Nazis. Activists daubed “Free Gaza and Palestine” on a ghetto wall (below).

Warsaw Ghetto desecration

Warsaw Ghetto desecration

Jasiewicz hoped that the RTOP will “denormalise Israel’s false legitimacy” and said that “Israel is trying to delegitimise the delegitimiers. We are the delegitimiers”.

She was part of the recent flotilla to Gaza but admitted that the flotilla was not about humanitarian aid for the Palestinians but about breaking the siege of Gaza.

She told us that the occupation is everywhere, not just in Palestine, but is reproduced internationally on a daily basis and she urged activists to continue shutting down places like Ahava and Carmel Agrexco and then turning to international law to support them.

The occupation exists, she said, not because of Jews but because of capitalism. These companies are not committed to Israel but to making money.

She hoped that people will use the tools from the RTOP and apply them in their work places, homes and down the pub and that governments will eventually apply sanctions, as they did to apartheid South Africa.

Film director Ken Loach spoke of this being an incredible story about the breach of international law. “We just want the rule of law. No community can live without law but that is what we are permitting,” he said.

He called for independent politicians and criticised Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for being patrons of the Jewish National Fund which, Loach said, is about collecting money for land being bought on the basis of racial purity.

He spoke of “one image” he had of the settlers being on high ground and the Palestinians being downhill and who cannot use their land or vineyards because settler effluent flows downhill and destroys that land. “It is just a simple detail, the devil is in the detail, but how revealing,” he said.

He referred to maps since 1947 which shows, he said, how the Palestinians have been continuously pushed out. This was evidence of lack of good faith that the Palestinians will ever be allowed to live side by side with Israel.

He challenged the idea of a state based on race: “We have had enough experience to prove that race as a founding principle is intolerable”.

He then quoted David Ben Gurion’s speech on the need for a Jewish homeland when the threats to the Jews in Nazi Germany were becoming intolerable:

“He said this, and I think it is chilling, he said, ‘If it was possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England and only half of them by transporting them to Israel then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the lives of these children but also the history of the people of Israel.’ If that is the mentality of people who are driving Israeli policy then that is chilling because that is not about peaceful negotiation, that is about conquest. Take that in conjunction with the maps and you can see what we are up against. We can remember who supported the Nazis; the industrialists. If the industrialists will support this attack on international law then we have a big task.”

(A non-political analysis of Ben Gurion’s speech can be viewed here).

In the Q&A I asked Loach why he singled out Israel for criticism for its racial and religious make-up when most other countries around the world are the same. He repeated his comment about past experience of states basing themselves on race but he agreed that other countries are based on religion and to show his objection he had boycotted the Iranian film festival.

Someone asked whether Loach would make a film about the suffering of the Palestinians but he replied that that would have to be done by an Arab.

When asked what would Britain do if it was under attack from rockets Loach simply replied that it was not right to balance the violence of the oppressor with the violence of the oppressed.

The RTOP is an expensive charade (the jury is being flown in from all over the world), yet again not benefitting the Palestinians in the slightest.

More shameful was the presence of Ewa Jasiewicz and then acclaimed film director Ken Loach justifying Palestinian violence and unabashedly renewing old anti-Jewish tropes about Jews poisoning their neighbours and killing children.

Last night at Amnesty felt less about the delegitimisation of Israel and more about the delegitimisation of living Jews and the desecration of the memory of dead ones.

24 responses to “Russell Tribunal on Palestine presents Ken Loach at Amnesty

  1. Jonathan Hoffman

    Thanks. Appalling.
    Glad you weren’t locked out, like me:

  2. Jonathan Hoffman

    Loach’s Ben Gurion quote is so divorced from context as to be meaningless but of course he could not care less about this, in his rush to traduce Israel.

  3. Richard
    I admire you

  4. Good article Richard.

    “Someone asked whether Loach would make a film about the suffering of the Palestinians but he replied that that would have to be done by an Arab.”

    Loach was never one to do anything to genuinely help the Palestinians. For him it is all about empty posturing.

  5. Thank you. About as sickening as I’d imagined it would be. None of this would have been out of place in a conference organised by the Stuermer: lies, slander, and dripping bile.

  6. Did they accuse the Palestidiots of any wrong doing or was it a simple : Israel is to blame for everything conference?
    I must say having looked at the photo – im happy they looked pissed off. Good.

  7. How else would they look, Orna? Having all that bile eating away inside you must have an effect on one’s physical let alone mental health.

  8. I agree, Yoni. I’ve never met a happy antisemite.

  9. Excellent post! Thanks Richard.

  10. This was truly an appaling meeting and I have been to quite a few. Loach cited the modern day version of the traditional antisemitic troph of Jews poisoning wells , this time by running open sewers into Palestinian villages.
    Straight out of Der Stuermer.
    In the Q+A that followed ,questions posed by the three pro Israel supporters were met with derision and hostility from the audience and cries of ” Question only -no statements ” even though pro Palestinians were permitted to make rambling statements rather then deliver a question.
    The most chilling aspect of the whole session was that it had nothing to do with conflict resolution and arriving at a fair and equitable solution to the conflict . Israel had already been judged and found guilty .This was now about discussing the minutae of the process of delegitimising Israel ,of effectively ending its soverign rights as an independent state .

    For me it was reminiscent of the Kenneth Branagh BBC drama documentary of the Nazis meeting at Wanasee in order to discuss the finer detail of the implementation of the Holocaust . Instead of Wanasee ,we were at the offices of Amnesty International and discussing the means by which the state of Israel would be eradicated .
    It would appear that somethings never change .

  11. Well done Richard and Harvey for attending – hard luck Jonathan for being barred – they’re too scared of you to let you in.

    As appalling as this ‘tribunal’ sounds, should we be too worried by it’s effect – it seems mainly populated by the Left, who’s influence I suspect is on the wane after Labour’s ignominious defeat at the polls?

  12. should we worry?

    1) they have gotten hold of a widely known name i.e. a brand
    2) they use the premises of an organisation with a saintly halo
    3) Obama is leading a choir of girls and boys agreeing on Israel must do this, Israel must do that and then Israel must do the other etc. etc.

  13. Thank you for the write up Richard

    Harvey – calm down..seriously. Jewish settlers poisoning Palestinian wells or water is not an unknown issue..does it mean all settlers do this – of course it does not…but it is a fact that it happens and denying it makes you look either ill informed or mendacious.

    • Actually Itay, using sources that are politically motivated to delegitimize an entity makes you look ill informed. A source that is so clearly anti-zionist clearly shows you that they are misrepresenting the facts to make it look as if the “evil zionists” purposely poisoned the poor oppressed arabs. To claim jews poison people is a very common anti-semitic claim that has been used throughout the centuries to demonize jews. A person who tries to make that claim against israelis is usually an actual anti-semite not a mere critic of israel

  14. I suggest people write to Amnesty asking why they invited a desecrater of Jewish cemeteries to their events.

  15. Good luck with that, Adam.
    They did it because they have been pathological Israel-haters for ages. They have been wallowing in this sewer for a long time. I have been refusing to accept work from them for many years, each time telling them exactly why.

  16. Well done Yoni! I think as many of us as possible should tell them what we think of them.

    I am interetsted how they will respond to the fact that they had a Jewish cemetery desecrater on this panel. How will they phrase a defence of that?

  17. Well, if we’re going down the ‘crimes’ road here, I’d say it’s about time we flipped the tables a little and asked questions about the EU funding of the Palestinian cause.

    Year on year we hear of the dire straits in which the ordinary people live yet no one seems to join the dots and ask why this should be the case given that they receive billions from the EU alone.

    The following report is quite enlightening.

    “Managing European Taxpayers Money. Supporting the Palestinian Arabs – a Study in Transparency”

    Click to access FPC2004Report.pdf

    Oops – nearly forgot to say ‘well done’ Richard!:-))

  18. Thanks for this Richard. I hope it will be another nail in the Israel-haters’ coffins.

    What on earth was the point of banning Jonathan Hoffman? Don’t these idiots realise that they make themselves look at least spiteful for having done that? Do they think that because he was kept out no-one will know the depth of their mindless hatred?

    And is the name “The Russell Tribunal” meant to give this three ring circus a seal of approval? It’s rather like putting lipstick on a pig.

    • Hoffman was probably banned because he does not know how to behave with civility in public – clearly Richard Millett could otherwise he would have been in the same boat. I suspect its one of manners and nothing more given that Richard was in there and looks like he got to speak / ask a question also. Hoffman should learn the meaning of the word “dignity”.

  19. this Itay sounds more and more like a disappointed lover
    he/she seems to have a really bad case of the crush on Jonathan

    which I can understand in a way, but if Jonathan doesn’t reciproke his/her feelings why then succumb into this ridiculous moaning stalking “please please talk to me” state?

    really even when deeply infatuated one should still be able to preserve one’s dignity.

  20. Silke – try an deal with the issues – or carry on with the old nazi trick of suggesting those you diagree with or who disagree with you have a mental illness….its not very dignified and you should know better.

  21. projectionitis is not a mental illness
    it is a rather common affliction
    and if you look here it seems like it is only me who is courteous enough to put the blame on a tissue inflammation that might respond to treatment

    and btw you just delivered proof that you are suffering even more from it than I would have assumed previously.