Never normalize oppression
Question: what do the following people have in common?
Tariq Ali, Harry Belafonte, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Tony Benn, John Berger, Ernesto Cardinal, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Ramsay Clark, Eduardo Galeano, Norman Finkelstein, Costa Gavras, Neve Gordon, Jonathan Cook, Jeff Halper, Naomi Klein, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Henning Mankel, Ilan Pappe, Harold Pinter, John Pilger, Jose Saramago, Vandana Shiva, Cindy Sheehan, Alice Walker, Jody Williams, Betty Williams, Howard Zinn
Answer: Besides being some of the bravest public figures on the planet, all are patrons or have been supporters of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP).
You haven’t heard of this? I wonder why given the stature and virtual global recognition factor of the above—Nobel winners, Historians, Film Makers (pay attention to three giants Ken Loach, Costa Gavras and Mike Leigh), towering intellectuals like Chomsky and Vandana Shiva, politicians like Benn and Ramsay Clark, cultural workers like Belafonte and Christie, brave Israelis like Neve Gordon, Jeff Halper and Ilan Pappe and Canada’s own Naomi Klein. And, oh yes, one priest Nicaragua’s Ernesto Cardenal.
They are all part of RToP an International People’s Tribunal created by a large group of citizens involved in the promotion of peace and justice in the Middle East. They simply refuse to give up against the onslaught of propaganda aimed at whitewashing Israeli crimes against international law and the Palestinian people.
The Russell in the title belongs to British philosopher Bertrand Russell It was originally a private body organized by Lord Russell and hosted by French philosopher and playwright Jean-Paul Sartre. Both saw quite clearly -as prophets do- the catastrophic foreign policy of the United States in Vietnam.
As early as the mid-50’s Bertrand Russell justified the establishment of this body in the words Robert Jackson the Chief Prosecutor of the Nuremberg War Crimes trial.
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.
The RToP today evinces the same public spirit and rules as did the original body did in the horror in Vietnam.That people’s meeting in Stockholm in 1966 caused a sensation. Canada’s own Morley Safer ( Bloor Collegiate 1949) still on 60 Minutes, made a fool of himself by calling the whole thing Commie propaganda. It turns out the Tribunal was dead on exposing at its earliest stages the American genocidal policies which resulted in an estimated 1.5 million innocent civilian deaths in Vietnam.
More on the latest RToP next time.