About the Russell Tribunal on Palestine

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine was formed In March 2009 with the object of supporting the Palestinian people. It is composed of well known human right activists, all of whom have made strong anti-Israel statements.

The third international session that took place in Cape Town from November 5 to 7, 2011 followed the first session in Barcelona in March 2010 and a second session in London in November 2010.

A panel that was called a “jury” consisted of anti-Israel stars Alice Walker, Mairead Maguire, Michael Mansfield, Ronnie Kasrils, Stephane Hessel, Yasmin Sooka, Aminata Traore, Jose Antonio Martin Pallin and Gisele Halimi.

The session was opened by Archbishop Desmond Tutu one of the strongest advocates of sanctions against Israel. A while back he convinced the University of Johannesburg to end its relationship with Ben-Gurion University in Israel as part of a boycott against Israeli academic institutions,

International witnesses included John Dugard, Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Max Du Plessis and Zwelinzima Vavi (Secretary General of the Congress of South African Trade Unions), Rafaelle Maison, Francois Dubuisson, David Keane, Luciana Coconi and Joseph Schechla.

Israeli and Palestinian “wtnesses” included Lea Tsemel, Emily Schaeffer, Ran Greenstein, Mahmoud Hassan, Raji Sourani, Jeff Halper Jamal Juma’a, Rafeef Ziadah, Mohammed Khatib, Jazi Abu Kaf, Shawqi Issa, Ingrid Jaradat Gassner and member of the Israel Knesset Haneen Zoabi who made headlines when she misleadingly claimed she was facing reprisals for her anti-apartheid views, leading to a letter from the Russell Tribunal to President Zuma.

Because no opportunity was allowed for questions from the audience and because the “jury” and “witnesses” comprised only anti-Israel personalities, the hearings were seen by some as as a ‘kangaroo court’

Writing in The New York Times in October 2011, Judge Richard Goldstone, well known for his criticism of Israel, said “It is not a ‘tribunal.’ The ‘evidence’ is going to be one-sided and the members of the ‘jury’ are critics whose harsh views of Israel are well known. In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute.”

Benjamin Pogrund, who was deputy editor of the Rand Daily Mail in the dark days of South African apartheid wrote about the Tribunal In the Johannesburg Sunday Times of October 30, “It’s theatre: the actors know their parts and the result is known before they start. Israel is to be dragged into the mud.