Update: This petition was signed by 21,991 Australians and will be presented to the Australian Federal parliament in August 2021. The Foreign Minister, Senator Marise Payne is required to respond to this petition within 3 months.
BDS Australia believes that it’s time the people who want to see justice for Palestinians, tell our politicians that it’s time to sanction Israel. We have one month until this petition is closed and it will be presented to the parliament. Australia is obliged to take action to support international law. BDS Australia is committed to championing the rights of Palestinians in law.
Successive Israeli governments have severely discriminated against and brutally dominated Palestinians since the Nakba of 1948. The latest attacks in Gaza and throughout East Jerusalem, the West Bank and inside Israel show that the Nakba has never ended. The systematic oppression of Palestinians amounts to grave breaches of international law and the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. Palestinians have been subject to ongoing largescale military assaults and an illegal 14-year physical and economic blockade in Gaza; a brutal 54-year military occupation; decades-long restrictions on freedom of movement; widespread imposition of an illegal settlement enterprise; confiscation of land and mass denial of residency rights. These actions intentionally and severely deprive millions of Palestinians of key fundamental rights and protections including the right to self-determination, the right of return, the right to equality and non-discrimination, and the rights to life, liberty, health, water, and security. The Australian Government has a responsibility as a signatory to numerous international treaties to take action against Israel due to these grave violations of international law, which are also criminal offences under Australian law.
We therefore ask the House to 1) publicly condemn Israel’s assaults on Palestinians. 2) support targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on Israel. 3) support the suspension of defence cooperation with Israel and end defence industry partnerships. 4) introduce legislation to ban all settlement goods and services from entering Australia. 5) prevent Australian companies from operating, trading, or investing in settlements or contributing to their maintenance and/or expansion.
BDS Australia wrote to the UTS Vice Chancellor,Professor Attila Brungs and the Vice President (Advancement), Celia Hurley about the UTS series of webinars hosted by the Israeli Technion university and other partnerships UTS has with this institution – see details here. We received a response which indicates that UTS does not take these issues seriously and does not intend to address them.
This is the response from Celia Hurley to our letter which was shared as an online petition to her and the Vice Chancellor as well.
“Thank you for your email regarding the upcoming webinar event with the Technion Institute of Technology (Australia) and your request that UTS cancel all ties with Technion. UTS has a commitment to academic freedom and international knowledge exchange, and as a public university we base our partnerships on advice from the Australian Commonwealth Government. We acknowledge the enormous human impact the recent conflict is having and as a university committed to social justice our sympathies are very much with all of those affected. The UN Security Council has not, to date, made any sanctions against Israel regarding the conflict and we are not aware of any international law violations. At this point in time UTS is not aware of any new information that leads us to conclude that Technion is not an appropriate partner and that the event should be cancelled. With kind regards, Celia Hurley”
BDS Australia does not accept this response from the University of Technology Sydney – this is our reply:
We note your response to our call that UTS cancels its involvement in the forthcoming Technion sponsored webinar and to cease all partnerships with any institutions that contribute to the oppression of Palestinians and violations of international law.
We do not accept the arguments you have provided for not withdrawing from your association with the Israeli Technion University. You note that UTS is committed to social justice however your actions in partnering with this university raise serious concerns about whether UTS can legitimately make this claim.
It is extraordinary that you refer to the UN Security Council and the lack of sanctions against Israel regarding this conflict especially given that every academic employed by UTS with the vaguest understanding of this issue, would be able to refer you to the ongoing veto that the United States has used and again most recently in relation to Israel’s ongoing grave violations of international law. The United States this month repeatedly blocked the adoption of a joint UN Security Council statement calling for a halt to the current hostilities despite the fact that all other 14 members of the Security Council were in favour of issuing this statement. In addition, since 1947, Israel has been the subject of almost 300 UN General Assembly resolutions – the most censured state in the history of the UN.
Regarding violations of international law, we draw your attention to this recent submission by the Australian Centre for International Justice and the Palestine Human Rights Organisations Council, which details Israel’s breaches of international law and also to the Human Rights Watch report on the Israeli crimes of apartheid and persecution. Israel’s violations of international law are well documented and have been on the public record for many years. Again, any academic at UTS with basic knowledge could provide them for you and any other decision maker who is ignorant of these facts.
You state that you base your partnerships on advice from the Commonwealth Government which we presume means that unless a country is sanctioned by Australia, UTS will not consider ongoing violations of international law, human rights and UN Resolutions alone, as a reason to cease partnerships. We would like to point out that as a high contracting party to the Geneva Conventions, Australia has accepted the full scope of obligations under these Conventions which oblige it to respect and apply them in ‘good faith’.
The fact that the Australian Commonwealth Government is in breach of its duty under these Conventions, does not relieve UTS of the responsibility to thoroughly investigate its partnerships with institutions and bodies implicated in grave breaches of international law through their support for states like Israel.
The Israeli government’s actions to deny and hinder the right of Palestinians to an education are well documented. This Norwegian Refugee Council report shows that there were an average of 10 attacks per month on West Bank kindergarten and school students, staff and facilities between 2018-2020. Unicef documented that in 2016 alone, 256 education-related violations were documented in the West Bank, affecting nearly 30,000 students. This World Council of Churches / Unicef report offers detailed analysis and documentation of the way the Israeli Occupation and illegal settlement enterprise has impacted many thousands of Palestinian children’s education.
Technion’s collaboration with the Israeli government and with Israeli weapons manufacturers is well documented. Elbit Systems have partnered with Technion in numerous ways including a joint vision systems research agreement, through which Elbit offered grants to selected Technion undergraduate and graduate students and researchers in the electrical engineering department. Elbit uses vision systems in its helmet-mounted displays for pilots in combat aircraft. Many employees of Elbit Systems are Technion graduates, including the current CEO.
The euphemisms used in your response, such as “the enormous human impact” and “sympathies are very much with all of those affected” are familiar tropes used by the corporate media and other unofficial spokespeople for the Israeli state. They imply that this is an equal ‘conflict’, which is grotesque when one considers the asymmetry, the enormity of Palestinian suffering and the fact that Israel is an occupying power with the fourth largest army in the world.
We look forward to UTS actions which demonstrate that this institution takes its commitment to social justice and human rights seriously.
We will continue to advocate for UTS to cease all partnerships and affiliations with Technion and any other company or institution which supports Israel’s violations of the human rights of Palestinians and their right to justice under international law. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Sign the petition to UTS Vice Chancellor, Professor Attila Sprungs and Vice President (Engagement) Celia Hurley HERE.
Take two quick actions HEREto thank Lewis Hamilton for his stand against racism and to urge him to take that stand to Puma over its support for Israeli apartheid that South Africans say is worse than what they endured.
Lewis Hamilton, Formula One’s first and only Black driver, is shattering records and fighting against racism on and off the race track.
He recently said, “We all have a responsibility to educate ourselves and raise awareness of the tragedies happening in the world around us and take action where we can”.
Let’s take this opportunity to do just that!
Lewis Hamilton’s sponsor Puma supports Israeli apartheid that South Africans say is worse than what they endured.
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.
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.
Richard Falk San Foca, Italy June 22, 2019
This website is maintained by BDS Australia, which is affiliated with the coalition of Palestinian organisations that leads and supports the BDS movement and by the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a BNC member organisation.