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Nurit Peled Elhanan - Russell Tribunal on Palestine "the Apartheid imposed on the Palestinians by Israel"

Editorial note

Nurit Peled Elhanan has pushed hard to create the paradigm equating Israel with the apartheid state of South Africa.  She says, "the one practiced against Palestinian citizens inside Israel and Palestinian non-citizens outside the Israeli borders, in the occupied territories of Palestine, is legal, supported by laws". For Peled-Elhanan the killing of Jews by Palestinians is permissible, the countless criminal acts by Palestinians against Jews including suicide bombings, must be overlooked, accepted and forgiven.   Measures taken to protect  Israeli citizens are automatically branded as "apartheid state policies."

She claims that the Israeli apartheid is rooted in education. "Because Apartheid is not only a bunch of racist laws, it is a state of mind, and states of mind are fashioned by education." However,  extensive analysis published in 2006 by Dr. Arnon Groiss on Peled Elhanan's arguments about anti-Arab bias in Israeli school books, found no evidence to support her claims.  His conclusions on this point are clear.


The Presentation of Palestinians in Israeli Schoolbooks of History and Geography 1998-2003”  by Arnon Groiss, Director of Research Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP-RA). 


From what we have shown, it is clear that Dr. Peled-Elhanan set out with the objective of labeling the Israeli curriculum racist. Motivated by her personal political agenda rather than an investigative spirit, she shot her arrow and then drew a target around it – or stated her preconceived thesis and then tried to find evidence for it.  That was not an easy task, since Israeli school textbooks do not contain significant racist material, but she was not deterred by this problem.  She made a formidable effort to find supposed evidence, whatever the cost.  In fact, the cost has been high in relation to academic criteria:   

• A highly selective use of source material, leaving out all references which contradict her thesis   
• The deliberate misinterpretation of facts in order to coerce them into her thesis 
• Inaccurate, distorted, and even downright false evidence 
This heavily politicized and thus biased approach distorts the material to produce a picture to her liking.  
This is not a scholarly work.   


Nurit Peled Elhanan - Russell Tribunal on Palestine

 STREET NEWS SERVICE 31 October 2011

Nurit Peled-Elhanan is laureate of the 2001 Sakharov Prize for Human Rights. She is one of the initiators of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. (889 Words) - By Nurit P Peled Elhanan

Symbolically, the next meeting of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, dedicated to the Apartheid imposed on the Palestinians by Israel, will be taking place in Cape-Town.

Like the apartheid in SA the one practiced against Palestinian citizens inside Israel and Palestinian non-citizens outside the Israeli borders, in the occupied territories of Palestine, is legal, supported by laws.

Only this year more than 16 racist laws were issued by the Israeli Knesset, among others the law against mourning on Naqba day, the law that permits screening committees to accept people selectively to Jewish settlements inside Israel, the law allowing the Jewish National Fund not to lease land to Arab citizens, laws that limit to an appalling minimum Palestinian movement inside the occupied territories for instance from Ramallah to East Jerusalem, laws that allow highways to be restricted for Jews only, leaving the Palestinian traffic confined to old, narrow and extremely dangerous roads, that take their toll of human life almost every day; the law that separates Palestinian families if one parent was born in Jerusalem and the other wasn't, leaving children without mothers or fathers, the law that does not allow Palestinian to boycott goods from the Jewish settlements that are getting prosperous on Palestinian lands and the forthcoming law that would cancel Palestinian ownership on their lands altogether if these lands happen to be in a Jewish illegal settlement, thus legalizing colonialism and the violent seizing of private property.

Apartheid inside Israel is expressed in very low budgets for Palestinian education and municipal services, poor access to jobs and opportunities, total lack of building licenses which turns all Palestinian construction inside Israel illegal. Palestinian citizens, and Bedouin citizens are constantly evicted from their homes, and all this is legal, so that the victims cannot appeal to any court, except maybe to the Russell Tribunal.

But Apartheid is also expressed in the day-to-day management of life, in the permissible rude behaviour of policemen, who can inspect thoroughly and humiliate anyone who looks "Arab" and approaches affluent neighbourhood in Tel-Aviv or Jerusalem, in the racist expressions of ministers such as the minister of Interior Security Aharonovich who summed- up the problems of south Tel-Aviv by saying the place is "infested with whores and Arabs", in expressions of chief rabbis and ex-chief rabbis, both civilian and military, encouraging soldiers to kill the "enemy" wherever and whenever they can, even if the enemy is a baby; in the constant talk of politicians about the demographic demon that are the Arab citizens, in maintaining Arab quota in high education institutions, and most of all in the curious fact that no torturer or killer of Palestinian children has ever spent any meaningful time in jail while Palestinian children of  12 or 15 years old spend illegally long periods of time in prison without cause, without seeing a lawyer or their parents and without hope.

Palestinian blood is dispensable with impunity in Israel and in the occupied territories; Palestinian every day existence is impossible. Cruelty, humiliation, starvation, torture and death define their relationships with their masters, their occupiers, and their governors.

The question that has been bothering me for a long time is how do Israeli citizens, including the children that at the age of 18 join the torture machine - the IDF, cope with such a discrepancy between the values they are raised on and the practices of oppression against their neighbours.

The answer to this question lies in education. Because Apartheid is not only a bunch of racist laws, it is a state of mind, and states of mind are fashioned by education. Israeli children are educated from a very tender age to see "Arab" citizens and "Arabs" in general as a problem that must be solved, eliminated in one way or another. They can go through life without ever meeting a Palestinian child or talk to one. They know nothing of the life-world of these people who live 100 meters from them, sometimes in the same street as in Abu-Tur in Jerusalem.

Israeli education succeeds in building mental walls that are far thicker than the real concrete wall that is being constructed In order to incarcerate the whole Palestinian nation and hide their existence from our eyes. That is why Israelis never protest against the apartheid wall. Most Israelis, including leftist Zionists, see the wall as an appropriate solution to the "problem". They don't consider Palestinians as human being like themselves, but as an inferior species, that deserve much less.

This can also explain the concern and the ecstasy over the captivated soldier Gilad Shalit, who was renamed " a kidnapped child", and the complete indifference towards the hundreds of Palestinian children, who are being - literally kidnapped from their beds by fully armed soldiers and thrown to jail for throwing stones, or being where they shouldn't be, or speaking impolitely to soldiers, or merely existing.

The Apartheid in Israel and Palestine, imposed and practices by the Israeli security forces it is enabled by the most profound racism, practiced every day, in every domain of life, in every encounter or action, in education and in the media that are wholly dedicated to the production and reproduction of fears and heterophobia.

Let us hope the Russell tribunal on Palestine can raise international awareness to this horrible mind infection and find ways to cure us all.




Russell Tribunal investigates legal failings in Palestine and Middle East

 STREET NEWS SERVICE 31 October 2011

Despite recent cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, a solution to the amaranthine ‘Middle East Problem’ remains out of sight. It is hoped then that the Russell Tribunal on Palestine that restarts this week can help shed some light, rather than darkness, upon the legal failings of the parties involved. (535 Words) - By Staff writer

This week Archbishop Desmond Tutu will give the opening speech on the third instalment of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. Not everyone will have heard of the Russell Tribunal but the inaugural report in 1966 caused a sensation when it held the American government to be in breach of International law due to its involvement in Vietnam.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is the latest instalment, following on from a tribunal on Chile (1973) and Iraq (2004). It is a 'citizen's tribunal' that is not affiliated with any state. Its main aims are to use principles of justice and international law as tools to help address global malfeasance committed by sovereign states.

The format is a conference lasting several days at which presentations by notable dignitaries from several countries, including Israel, are made to a jury of experts. The jury retire before delivering their response. The details of the charges levelled can be obtained form the Russell Tribunal on Palestine's homepage but, briefly, concern both the failure of States to follow international legal rulings and the invasion of Gaza by Israel in 2008

The Russell Tribunal is named after British philosopher   Bertrand Russell who came up with the idea following America's involvement in the Vietnam War.  It takes as its mission statement the comments made at the end of the Nuremburg trials of world war two, namely:

"If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us" - Justice Robert H. Jackson, Chief Prosecutor, Nuremberg War Crimes Trials 1970

The Russell Tribune on Palestine had three "sessions" scheduled. The first two were in London and Barcelona earlier this year. Between the 5th and the 7th of November the Russell Tribunal is in South Africa.  The question for debate was: "Are Israel's practices against the Palestinian People in breach of the prohibition on Apartheid under International Law?"

SNS has statements from three Jury members Mairead Maguire, Gisèle Halimi, and Yasmin Sooka ahead of the talks in South Africa. Additionally we have contributions from:

Stéphane Hessel

Is a diplomat, ambassador, writer, concentration camp survivor, former French Resistance fighter and BCRA agent. Born German, he became a naturalised French citizen in 1939. He participated in the editing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

Mervyn Bennun

A South African former lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Exeter, was active in the ANC during its period of exile in the UK.

Nurit Peled-Elhanan

Is a Professor of language and education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, an Israeli peace activist, and one of the founders of the Bereaved Families for Peace. After the death of Elhanan's 13 year-old daughter in 1997, she became an outspoken critic of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Terry Crawford-Browne

Terry Crawford-Browne is a former international banker who during the mid 1980s became a peace activist, and is better known for his opposition to the arms acquisition package, known as the "arms deal."  He is also secretary of the South African organising committee for the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.  His second book, Eye On The Diamonds is to be published early next year.

Sophia Javed

Sophia Javed is a researcher for advocacy group, the Media Review Network.


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