20 November 2010

Pulitzer prize-winning writer Alice Walker today compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians with the historical racism of the British Empire.

She launched her scathing attack on the Israeli government in a statement to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a special inquiry into Israeli war crimes taking place in London this weekend. The focus of the London session is the complicity of British and international corporations in Israeli human rights violations.

She said: “What has happened to them [the Palestinians] has happened to countless others, including my own tribes – African, Native American, poor European immigrant.”

Hugh Lanning, deputy general secretary of the PCS union, told the tribunal in his testimony that the TUC would continue its campaign against firms guilty of  complicity, and produce a “short list” of the worst offending companies early next year.

Lanning said potential targets included Israeli company Carmel-Agrexco (which sells produce in British supermarkets from illegal Israeli settlements) and Veolia, which collects household waste in Britain and is involved in “racist” transport policies in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli academic Dalit Baum from the group Who Profits? said many Palestinians, compelled through poverty to work on illegal Israeli settlements, were paid less than the minimum Israeli wage.

In a video statement, Palestinian farmers’ union coordinator Fayez al Taneeb showed maps that compared remaining Palestinian land in the West Bank with the Bantustans under South Africa’s apartheid regime. He pointed out that land under Palestinian control now amounted to 12% of historical Palestine, while the Bantustans of the apartheid era had amounted to 13% of South Africa.

Health problems had forced Walker to withdraw from the Russell Tribunal’s jury that is hearing evidence from around 30 expert witnesses.


The first day of the tribunal continues until 6.30 today. The second and final day starts 9.15am tomorrow at 113 Chancery Lane London WC2A 1PL.

The tribunal is also being broadcast live over the internet on our website (address below). Video from today is also available on the website.

The jury will give its verdict in a press conference at 10.30 am on Monday (22 November) at the Amnesty International Human Rights Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA.


Ewa Jasiewicz, RToP media team (+44) (0)7749 421576
Paul Collins, RToP media team (+44) (0)7983 550728


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