Update: Israel releases human Rights defender and BDS coordinator Mahmoud Nawajaa after international pressure.
August 17, 2020 – Palestinian human rights defender and BDS coordinator Mahmoud Nawajaa was released by an Israeli military court, after 19 days of illegal detention without charges. Since his arrest on July 30, the Israeli internal security Shin Bet has failed to present any formal charges against him.
Nawajaa praised his supporters after his release: “Pressure works. Sustained global pressure works even better. I am deeply grateful to all of those who pressured apartheid Israel to release me. From Europe and the Arab world, to Southern Africa, Latin America, North America and Asia, your solidarity gave me strength and kept alive my hope to be reunified with my loving family and my inspiring wider BDS family.” He also thanked Palestinian and human rights organizations. (bdsmovement.net, Aug. 17)
July 30, 2020 – In Ramallah and Gaza, more than 150 representatives of Palestinian trade unions, women’s associations, political parties and BDS supporters rallied Tuesday in front of the representative offices of Germany, which currently holds the EU presidency, to demand EU pressure on Israel to set Mahmoud Nawajaa free.
Nawajaa, the General Coordinator of the Palestinian National BDS Committee, was arrested by Israeli soldiers in the middle of the night from his home in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on July 30th.
The decision to extend his detention was made in an Israeli military court in Jenin on August 2nd, upon request from Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet.
According to the BDS movement, the Shin Bet declined to present any charges or evidence that they have against Nawajaa with him or his lawyer — a common practice used by Israeli officials who routinely cite unnamed “security reasons” to justify the detention of Palestinian political activists.
Majida Masri, coordinator of the Palestinian Women’s Campaign for Boycotting Israeli Products, spoke for the BDS movement saying:
“We are rallying here to demand that the EU end its complicity of silence and apply concrete pressure on Israel to release Mahmoud Nawajaa and respect the rights of Palestinian human rights defenders. Israel is bowing to our pressure, so we must intensify it to #FreeMahmoud.
“Being Israel’s largest trade partner, and given its decades of complicity in enabling Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, the EU has legal and moral obligations to act to end Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
1. Let’s amplify their message and tell EU Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borrell that continued EU inaction amounts to outright complicity:
Help us send an equally determined message to the UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet, urging her to denounce Israel’s persecution of Palestinian human rights defenders, like Mahmoud.
2. Tell the UN it must act to defend Palestinian human rights defenders. Period.
@mbachelet: Help stop Israel’s persecution of Palestinian human rights defenders like Mahmoud Nawajaa, who peacefully resist apartheid.
@UNHumanRights must demand that Israel #FreeMahmoud and all political prisoners now. https://bdsmovement.net/un-eu-freemahmoud pic.twitter.com/tdoVhuCST4
In their call for Israel to “immediately and unconditionally release Mahmoud, Amnesty International said:
Advocating for boycotts, divestment and sanctions is a form of non-violent advocacy and of free expression that must be protected. Advocates of boycotts should be allowed to express their views freely and take forward their campaigns without harassment, threats of prosecution or criminalization.
BDS Australia is pleased to host this important forum featuring Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) co founder, Omar Barghouti with key First Nations and Palestinian Australian speakers discussing the shared experience of dispossession, state-based discrimination and racism and how to counter it.
Don’t miss this unique event – REGISTER HERE – ZOOM FORUM
SATURDAY AUG 29, 7.30PM EST (SYD, CANBERRA, MEL)
OMAR BARGHOUTI – Palestinian writer and founding member of the BDS campaign
AMY MCQUIRE – Darumbal and South Sear Islander journalist and academic
DR RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH – Palestinian author, academic and former lawyer
PROFESSOR TONY BIRCH – Indigenous Australian author, academic and activist
HIBA FARRA, Moderator – Palestinian lawyer and activist
BDS Australia condemns the recent violence against students and human rights defenders at York University in Canada. BDS Australia is a coalition of 12 Australian pro-Palestine associations, dedicated to informing and raising awareness in the Australian community in support of a just peace for the Palestinian people.
On 20 November 2019, Canadian human rights activists, students and others were protesting against the presence of former and current Israeli soldiers at York University’s Toronto campus when members of the Israeli lobby violently attacked and assaulted them. The Israeli soldiers were brought to campus by the right-wing Canadian branch of the Israeli organization called Herut. The students protested peacefully and we understand they were assaulted by the members of Jewish Defence League while the university security and police failed to protect them.
BDS Australia stands with activists from Canada and elsewhere internationally to unconditionally reject the assertion that protesting Israeli apartheid and Israeli violations of human rights and international law in relation to Palestine, is antisemitic.
We stand in solidarity with the Canadian students, staff, and others including progressive Jewish Israelis in the struggle against Israeli apartheid and Israel’s ongoing grave violations of international law.
We note that bogus claims of antisemitism against supporters of free and equal rights in international law for all Palestinians are disingenuous and a cynical attempt to discredit the ongoing international condemnation of Israel for its longstanding brutal and illegal colonization of Palestinian land and, oppression of Palestinians.
Signed by BDS Australia committee
A presentation by the renowned Palestinian writer, scholar and commentator, Dr Abu Sitta in Sydney whose work has meticulously documented the Palestinian Nakba.
What: BDS for the Right of Return – Why?
When: Wednesday October 9, 6.45pm-8pm
Where: Redfern Town Hall.
GET TICKETS NOW HERE
Full price – $10
Concession – $7
Dr Abu Sitta is an author, scholar and commentator. He has meticulously documented the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). No-one can speak more authoritatively than he on that momentous event’s impact on the Palestinian people, nor on how to remedy the more than 70 years of the dispossession of their lands and the loss of their rights to self-determination and freedom.
Salman Abu Sitta was born in Palestine in 1937, not far from Beersheba. As a schoolboy when Israel was established in 1948, he was forced, with his family, to move from home to the Gaza Strip. He was educated in Palestine, Cairo and (at university) in London. Abu Sitta is a former member of the Palestinian National Council, the general coordinator of the Right of Return Congress. Abu Sitta is also the founder and President of the Palestine Land Society, London, dedicated to the documentation of Palestine’s land and people. Website www.plands.org.
He is the author of six books on Palestine including the compendium Atlas of Palestine 1917- 1966, English and Arabic editions, the Atlas of the Return Journey in Arabic, English and Hebrew and over 300 papers and articles on the Palestinian refugees, the Right of Return, history of al Nakba and human rights.
His most well known book is the “Mapping my Return: A Palestinian Memoir” which had strong reviews internationally. Dr Abu Sitta is active in many academic, legal and human rights groups.
Professor Richard Falk’s point-by-point response to Australian Jewish News (June 20, 2019) article “Furore Over Falk Visit”
EDITOR: Disappointingly the editor of Australian Jewish News has so far refused to publish Professor Falk’s point-by-point refutation of the allegations made in AJN last week, so we publish it here:
The article starts by reporting ‘concerns’ over my visit to Australia in response to speaking invitations in Sydney this July to address Israel/Palestine relations. At the outset I should say that my true position has always been to identify the conditions for peace between the two peoples. What has made my views controversial in the more militant pro-Israeli circles is my contention that a sustainable peace as distinct from a ceasefire depends on respect for Palestinian rights and an end to Israeli violations of international law. In my reports to the UN for the six years I served in this unpaid UN post, I attempted to do this in an objective, fact-based manner sensitive to the application of international legal norms. When I began my term as Special Rapporteur I made a formal appeal to extend my mandate to cover Palestinian violations of international human rights law, but this effort was rejected by the Human Rights Council after considerable debate by governmental representatives.
As for the specific allegations in the article, let me respond as best I can from a remote location far from my office. First of all, I have never ‘endorsed’ conspiracy theories, the allegation undoubtedly referring to my very limited writing about the 9/11 attacks on the United States. It is true that I wrote a favorable foreword to David Ray Griffin’s first book on the subject, A New Pearl Harbor, but it is also true that the book raises 17 questions that were at the time unanswered in the official account of the attacks, and deserved to be answered convincingly to put doubts to rest. It should be appreciated that Griffin, a close friend, is a distinguished professor of religious philosophy who is a founder of ‘process theology’ along with his academic colleague John Cobb. In subsequent commentary on my blog and in journalistic pieces I repeated in various ways that valid suspicions remain about the official version of the 9/11 attacks, but I have never supported conspiracy theories that offer alternative versions as to what happened. To plead for a removal of suspicion is not to allege ‘conspiracy,’ although when such suspicions are not removed, further doubts naturally emerge, but in the spirit of skepticism not an instance of conspiracy thinking.
It is true, especially while serving in an unpaid position in the UN as Special Rapporteur, I was accused of being ‘anti-Semitic’ or a ‘self-hating Jew’ guilty of spreading anti-Jewish ‘tropes,’ but these accusations came from similar sources as this defamatory article. Although frequently a critic of the behavior of states, especially from the perspective of international law and morality, I have never directed my criticism at the ethnicity or religious identity of any people, including of course, Jews. In this vein I have been critical of Israel for its state policies as I have been of many other governments, including my own. I have consistently affirmed my Jewish identity, and it is a nasty slur to suggest otherwise or to merge my criticisms of Israel with anti-Semitic attitudes. Those that do so never examine the reasonableness of arguments contending that Israel is guilty of serious violations of international humanitarian law.
The article in the Australia Jewish News also refers to my contention that Israel subjugates the Palestinian people in a manner that violates the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. This conclusion emerged in the course of a jointly authored contract academic study commissioned by the UN Economic and Social Council for West Asia (ESCWA). The study reached this conclusion on the basis of available evidence, but makes no claim of being legally authoritative. It was removed from the ESCWA website on instructions from the UN Secretary General after representatives of Israel and the United States demanded the repudiation of the report, and threatened dire consequences if this was not done. It is notable that the head of ESCWA at the time, Rima Khalaf, resigned in principle rather than follow the SG’s instruction. It seems relevant to note that the Report was never ‘repudiated’ by the UN and in fact received the endorsement of member governments of ESCWA.
Three additional allegations warrant a brief explanation. First, a 2007 article called ‘Slouching Toward a Holocaust in Palestine’ was a journalistic statement of concern about Israel’s practices toward the civilian population of Gaza, with particular reference to reliance on tactics that seemed fairly described as ‘collective punishment,’ which is unconditionally prohibited by an occupying power in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention covering ‘belligerent occupation,’ and a mainstay of international humanitarian law. The piece made an admittedly provocative reference to collective punishment of German Jews in Hitler’s Germany. It was meant to be a shocking reference, a wakeup call that sought to encourage a more humane and legally appropriate approach to the civilian population of Gaza, long denied basic rights. It was not meant as a comparison of Nazi and Israeli orientations, but I admit that it could be so interpreted, and was for that reason, perhaps, an inappropriate way to express my position.
Secondly, the posting of an anti-Semitic cartoon. Unlike the article, this was a complete mistake that was the result of an accidental oversight on my part. As implied in the article, the cartoon has nothing to do with Israel. It was concerned with the American opportunistic influence exerted over the International Criminal Court in The Hague, illustrated by its actions against Gaddafi in conjunction with the NATO operation in Libya in 2013. As I have explained many times, when posted I never noticed its anti-Semitic character because the image of the Jew was so small on the Google image page as to seem indecipherable and irrelevant. When this was brought to my attention the cartoon was immediately removed from the blog, and if the text of the post is read it makes no reference whatsoever to Jews or mentions Israel. The bad faith of critics such as the author of this derogatory article was demonstrated by completely ignoring my explanations, and even more so by widely disseminating a greatly enlarged version of the cartoon that tries to convey the impression that it was impossible for me not to have known of its anti-Semitic content when I posted the cartoon.
Thirdly, my comments at the time in reaction to the official coverage of the Boston Marathon terrorist event, which attracted some prominent criticism. Let me say that my point was simple and banal, and made by many others without evoking such angry reactions. I suggested that American foreign policy in the Middle East, with particular reference to Israel, was bound to have reverberations, including inducing extremists and disturbed persons to engage violently. I think this is a fact, borne out by experience of such sociopathic behavior. I denounced the terrorist violence of the Boston Marathon bombing at the time and never suggested that the U.S. change its policies in response. In this sense, my comments were torn from context to create effects never intended by me.
Finally, the article refers to several high-profile public officials, including the UN Secretary General at the time, who repeated such allegations, criticizing my views and behavior. As far as I know all of these allegations followed upon letter writing campaigns that repeated the insults, distortions, and defamatory remarks of this article, often organized by UN Watch, an NGO operating out of Geneva known for such tactics as ways of discrediting anyone voicing serious criticisms of Israeli state policy. When I inquired about the SG’s remarks to his chief assistant, he sheepishly acknowledged that ‘we didn’t do due diligence,’ which is UN-speak for admitting that my piece on which the denunciation was based was never read.
My professional life was mainly devoted to scholarship and teaching, the core of which was as a faculty member at Princeton University where I spent forty years as a professor of international law. I repeat in conclusion what I expressed at the outset. My entire career has been devoted to work for peace with justice at home and abroad, including in many settings apart from Israel/Palestine. To suggest otherwise is a clear example of character assassination.
San Foca, Italy
June 22, 2019