Russell Tribunal on Palestine offers alternative perspective

In an effort to publicize Israeli violations of international law against the Palestinian people, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine held its fourth session this past weekend.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine, an independent human rights organization founded in 2009, has convened in Barcelona in 2010, London in 2010 and Cape Town in 2011 to present different aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The New York City session focused on denouncing the United States and the United Nations for their complicity in the actions of Israel and failure to bring justice to the region.

“Several participants would like to press for changes in the [United Nations], such as ending the veto power of the richest and most powerful nations, which allows for the U.S. to single-handedly obstruct justice,” said Sherry Wolf, media coordinator for the tribunal.

The tribunal said the United States and the United Nations have supported Israel with economic and military aid. According to its findings, Israel receives 60 percent of U.S. Foreign Military Financing and has been the largest beneficiary of U.S. foreign aid since 1976.

This session featured notable speakers such as Ilan Pappé and Noam Chomsky and jurors including Alice Walker and Angela Davis, in hopes of garnering media attention.

However, Wolf said this has proven to be extremely difficult, particularly in the United States.

“There is an enforced blackout of Palestinian voices and points of view in the U.S.,” Wolf said. “Mainstream media were well-informed about our tribunal with some of the most prominent names in civil rights, scholarly, cultural and legal circles and simply refused to cover it.”

Ilan Pappé, the opening speaker at the tribunal and a renowned Israeli historian, said the mainstream media must use a historical perspective to fully understand
the issue.

“I think that hearing a different narrative, a different version of these events … eventually makes way on how politicians, journalists and the common public relate to the issue of Palestine,” Pappé said.

Emah Rajeh, a CAS junior and member of NYU Students for Justice in Palestine, said he sees the tribunal as an important event to change public perception.

“It is without a doubt a historic step in the right direction,” Rajeh said. “For years, dissent or criticism of Israel has been seen as taboo, but with this tribunal, we hope it will encourage understanding the conflict as not a relationship between equal parties, but as one that consists of an oppressor and an oppressed.”

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine plans to hold its final session in February 2013 to present the cumulative conclusions of all the hearings. The location of this session has not yet been announced.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 9 print edition. Veronica Carchedi is a contributing writer. Email her at cstate@nyunews.com. 

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