By CYNTHIA MCKINNEY
THIS bit of titular erudition came, with a shrug of the shoulders, at the end of the first session of the newly-formed Russell Tribunal on Palestine. It was not a part of the official record because it was stated in the anteroom, just off the auditorium of the elegantly appointed Barcelona Lawyers Building where the Tribunal was held. The person making this comment was not an official expert witness–but he was a European who understood the mindset that made Europeans complicit, not only in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, but also in Israel’s impunity.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is organized by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and has local organizing committees in each of the places where sessions will be held: Europe, United Kingdom, South Africa, and the United States. The Tribunal will next venture into London, then to South Africa to ponder the peculiar institution of Israeli apartheid. And finally to the U.S. where the mother of all complicity resides.
The Tribunal stresses its independence from the influence of special interests and each Local Organizing Committee conducts fundraising activities to make each Session a success. Barcelona can be chalked up as a success that serves the Tribunal organizers well for the upcoming London Session. More information on the Barcelona proceedings can be found at .
The original Bertrand Russell Tribunal was seated in the mid-1960s and considered the case against the U.S. war against Vietnam. Its second seating was to deliberate on human rights abuses in Latin America. Consideration of the situation of the people of Palestine commands its third seating.
The organizers of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine scoured the globe to find people of conscience to serve as jurors who are noted for acting on their convictions. The jurors include a woman who served with Bertrand Russell on the original Tribunal and another woman whose work eventually was recognized with a Nobel Peace Prize. The Tribunal’s mandate is to inform and urge action by a larger community of conscience and its urgency is the understanding that the Tribunal must act in the face of inaction by national and international authorities.
In addition, the “BRussells” Tribunal on Iraq is the brainchild of Russell Tribunal veteran François Houtart. The BRussells Tribunal was conducted in 2004 and found the United States guilty of committing an act of aggression against Iraq.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Barcelona Session, convened for three days, considered the evidence presented to it, and delivered its decision in response to a series of questions that could be summed up as: “Is the E.U. complicit in Israel’s crimes against Palestinians, and if so, in what way? What is the E.U.’s legal responsibility to itself and to international law?”
During the proceedings, I did pose the “Why?” question several times. However, the unofficial respondent answered the question in a way that even I was totally unprepared for: from his gut.
“They’re white just like us and the people they’re killing … are Arabs.”
This comment haunted me for the remainder of my European tour. And, it seemed that I could never escape it. In Brussels and then again in Paris; in London, I was consistently reminded of the color line and that I was traveling in places not usually broken by it: economic and political status in these places is as defined by skin color as it is in the United States, the Presidency of Barack Obama notwithstanding.
Combine my European experience with the fact of the illegal pillage of Africa by way of stoked “civil wars” and fake “rebel groups” created for the purpose of facilitating non-African Africa pillage–done since the first Berlin Conference that organized the so-called “Scramble for Africa” at the dawn of the 20th Century. Juxtapose that to the opening of the 19th Century where Africans in Haiti defeated Napoleon Bonaparte’s Army. Not only was Africa robbed of its strongest human resources for centuries during slavery, it continues to be robbed of its human and natural resources even now. Africans’ patrimony is being transferred, on the cheap, to Europe, the United States, and Israel.
Anyone who doubts these facts should consider the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), now suffering six million dead just since the Rwandan/Ugandan invasion in August of 1998 facilitated by the United States. The tragedy is told in the first United Nations Report on the pillage of DRC, written by Madame Ba-N-Dow, whose life was threatened by those named in the report, causing her to have to go into hiding because she told the truth. Additionally, numerous books and articles on the subject have been written by Camerounian-Parisian Charles Onana of Editions Duboiris, for those who read French, and by Wayne Madsen and Keith Harmon Snow, for those who don’t.
As I looked into the faces of Europe’s most recent immigrant Africans and Asians, the immigrant wars being fought today inside Europe, Israel, and the United States crystallized in the most dismal of contexts. With each glance into every face, I strained to make eye-to-eye contact to see beyond the face of the individual in order to understand the totality of the life I was encountering. Sadly, the realities all seemed the same: certain Europeans (including certain Americans and Israelis) had arrogated to themselves the right to go into any land, vilify the indigenous, denigrate their culture and dignity, steal the resources, overturn the local economy, destroy the local polities, and ignore the human rights of self-determination and resistance to occupation, and then dare the “others” to emigrate. For context today: Think the Muslim World in Africa and Asia. Think Latin America. Think Gaza.
Everywhere around Europe, as is also the case in Israel and the United States, immigration is an issue. It seems that Europeans–who have a quality of life that includes, among other things, mass transit and continental rapid rail that works, subsidized education, subsidized healthcare, and secure work and pensions–have reached their “immigrant tolerance level:” that is, more “others” are not welcome. And, as in the United States, the role of the special interest media cannot be discounted in the popularization of hate. This is especially sad when one realizes that the Europe of today exists as it does largely because of its past policies and current bondage with the United States that politically and economically wreck the countries of the “others.”
For example, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Israel are all diamond trading capitals of the world, yet none of them is a major miner of diamonds. The diamonds mainly come from Africa, and the consequent diamond empire that links all of these capitals was built on slavery and theft. (Please see the film Diamond Empire by investigative journalist Janine Roberts, banned in the United States because of its inconvenient, name-naming content.)
Now, take a look at these diamond-producing capitals of Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, and black South Africa–even post-apartheid–and one quickly grasps the level of theft and criminality that continues still today. Please think about this the next time you are tempted to buy a beautiful sparkling diamond in your local mall jewelry store.
And, for those who have never left America’s shores, one need only look inside the United States at the genocide of America’s indigenous people and the continued pillage of their land to understand how today’s life of largess was made possible by years of mistreatment, lawlessness, and genocide committed generations ago.
In 1948, the cycle began again when Zionists eager to wield state power were placed in control of Palestine by Europeans, Britons, and Americans and created the State of Israel on the land where Palestinians lived.
I inquired of one Israeli testifying at the Tribunal what did Operation Cast Lead tell us about the nature of Zionism. And it was through this line of questioning that I again heard something that I have heard all over the world, but never in the media: “I am an anti-Zionist Jew.”
In the United States, Zionists at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) purport to speak for all Jews and they would have non-Jews believe that criticism of them or of Israel is criticism of all Jews. For many that I encounter in the world whose only previous information came from the media, their most startling discovery is that this is a lie. And I have heard some of the most impassioned critiques of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians from anti-Zionist Jews. I intend to write more on this later.
Yesterday, it was announced in the English news that blacks and Asians are stopped by the police alarmingly more than whites. The study that published these findings also suggested that if such disparities are allowed to persist, then the communities of color so targeted could become increasingly disenchanted and volatile. London, Paris, and Oakland, California have all burned in recent memory as a result of persistent disparities and loss of hope for change. If unchecked now in communities of color, repression of all will surely be next.
Given my experiences and reflections during this European tour that included the Russell Tribunal; a standing-room-only meeting of Congolese who came from all over Europe to Brussels; a standing-room-only crowd of young people in “the hood” of a Paris suburb attending an event organized by rapper Joe Dalton; and several events in London that included a standing-room-only 9/11 Truth – 7/7 Tube Truth event, I find the observation of the Russell Tribunal attendee both poignant and relevant: It is still possible for people battered by propaganda and lies, covert and false flag operations, and the meanest of media blackouts to see and hear those of us who dissent and act on conscience. Our message is being received. A growing global critical mass see the humanity that binds us together despite the lies and the screens of religion, race, ethnicity, language, gender, and sexual orientation–skillfully used in the past to divide us.
The real message from my Russell Tribunal respondent is clear: Resistance to lies, injustice, war, and indignity is necessary and more people seeing that, join with us in our principled struggle.
Cynthia McKinney is a former USA Congresswoman and presidential candidate for the Green Party in the 2008 election.