The latest weapon in theanti-Israel lobby’s delegitimising arsenal, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, is due to reveal its findings today in Cape Town.
The Tribunal, modelled on an earlier, equally one-sided attempt to discredit the US during the Vietnam war, purports to promote Truth and Reconciliation in the Middle East. In reality it has assembled a motley group of ‘concerned citizens’ – actors and activists and a few big names, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu – in order to reinforce a malicious and spurious comparison between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa.
Yes, there is a role for a Truth and Reconciliation commission in the Middle East but not on the distorted terms of reference of this tribunal.
Half the Jews of Israel descend from refugees from Arab and Muslim countries, driven out by Nuremberg-style laws persecuting Jewish citizens just because they were Jews. These laws were similar, or worse than apartheid, and often accompanied by episodes of mob violence.
Just to give a few examples:
Jews were not granted (or stripped of) citizenship in Arab states.
Jews had to carry special ID documents marked ‘Jew’.
Jews had their communal institutions dissolved or nationalised
Jews were subject to restrictions and quotas.
Jews were sacked from public service jobs.
Jews were not allowed to travel or leave the country.
Jews were subject to arbitrary arrest for being ‘Zionists’.
Dozens were executed on trumped-up charges.
Jews had their bank accounts frozen and property sequestrated.
Jews were forced into business partnerships with Muslims.
Result: massive ethnic cleansing such that only 4,000 Jews remain out of nearly a million Jews living in Arab lands 60 years ago.
Yes, there were wrongs committed on both sides, but in its determination to depict the Palestinians as sole victims, this charade will ignore or deny the massive injustice perpetrated against Jews indigenous to the region. In so doing this tribunal denies the whole truth. True reconciliation can never be built on lies or omission of essential facts.
Many anti-Jewish ‘apartheid’ laws predated 1948