Last week the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, published a report, “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid.”
The report had been commissioned from two academics; Virginia Tilley, Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University and Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and one-time UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine (2008-2014).
The report concludes, “the weight of evidence supports beyond a reasonable doubt the proposition that Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people, which amounts to the commission of a crime against humanity.”
Last week, I had the privilege of chairing a well-attended meeting in Edinburgh, addressed by Richard Falk when he spoke about the report, recent events and his book, “Palestine’s Horizon, Toward a Just Peace.”
In common with other ‘Palestinian’ events in recent weeks, the venue had to be changed at the last minute following complaints that it was ‘controversial’.
Whilst it might reasonably have been expected that the report would prompt the UN to consider how to respond to the findings, sadly, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ response was to asked the his organisation’s own Commission to remove their report from the UN website. The report is no longer on UN sites but can be found here: https://electronicintifada.net/…/un_apartheid_report_15_mar…
Why might this be? Well, Reuters reported, “Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman likened the report to a Nazi propaganda publication that was strongly anti-Semitic and described it as “despicable and a blatant lie.” Meanwhile, the United States, Israel’s main ally, said it was “outraged” by the report.
As ever Israel plays the man not the ball. Richard Falk is an American Jew, but, first and foremost he is man who evidences his work and seeks a just peace.
Sadly, such blatant censorship is being mirrored by a growing intolerance of freedom of speech in Scotland too.
As someone who has long promoted equalities, and campaigns for a rights-based approach to everything, I am particularly offended by the accusation that criticism of the state of Israel equates to anti-Semitism.
Unlike the UN, and just like those who opposed apartheid South Africa before, Scottish critics of the apartheid regime in Israel will not be bullied into silence.