Posted by BNC Europe on Tue, 11/30/2010 – 13:09
Occupied Palestine, 30 November 2010 – “May this tribunal prevent the crime of silence‟, pleaded intellectual Bertrand Russell at the first meeting of the citizens’ War Crimes Tribunal that investigated US war crimes during its war on Vietnam.1 At a time when little was known in the wider public about US conduct in Vietnam, the tribunal exposed and brought to the fore of public discourse the brutal, deliberate bombardment of Vietnamese civilians – a citizens’ tribunal acting where the international community had failed. It is in that same spirit that London Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine confronted the narrative constructed by undemocratic and unaccountable transnational corporations and the Hasbara of the government of Israel to investigate and shine new light on corporate complicity with Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian rights. The Palestinian BDS National Committee warmly salutes all those involved with the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, looks forward to both the publication of the detailed findings of the tribunal, due in the coming weeks, and the two further sessions due to be held in the next two years, and fully endorses the findings of this important tribunal.
Just as with the original Russell Tribunal, the participants – which included internationally renowned legal and human rights experts, diplomats and campaigners for justice – ensured the tribunal spoke with a strong, clear and moral voice.
The tribunal drew together cutting edge research, analysis and expert testimony on many of the most significant corporate supporters of Israeli Apartheid on a scale which had never been attempted before. While nearly all of the companies examined are already well known as companies effectively and thoroughly targeted by the movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS), the act of examining them together in a thorough fashion and within the framework of international law has led to the production of an authoritative public statement that identifies the extent to which Israeli and international corporations facilitate Israeli violations of international law.2 Israel‟s illegal Wall that has de facto annexed Palestinian territory and destroyed communities was constructed with materials from Irish company CRH; illegal Jewish only colonial settlements that preclude justice for Palestinians are financed by Belgian-French bank Dexia, among others, and encouraged and made viable by Israeli agricultural exporters Carmel Agrexco; security and arms companies from all over the world provide the weapons and means used to inflict deadly violence on Palestinians with impunity. “Corporations play a very decisive role in enabling Israel to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity‟, reads the public statement of the tribunal.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine investigated means of holding corporate war criminals to account, and its strong and authoritative statement firmly endorsed and called for an escalation of “a very wide range of actions in support of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions”. In light of repression of BDS activists in France, Canada and elsewhere, the tribunal also called for the protection of the rights of all those who are involved in the BDS movement. In addition, the tribunal also examined the technicalities of and found possible civil claims against the international corporations aiding and abetting Israeli war crimes.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine continues to provide the technical knowledge and authoritative encouragement for people of conscience everywhere to utilise BDS to hold Israel and its supporters accountable and once again prevent the crime of silence.
1 B. Russell, ‘Speech to the First Meeting of Members of the War Crimes Tribunal, London, 13 November 1966′, in P. Limqueco and P. Weiss (eds.),