Over 600 Scholars and Artists call for the dismantling of the apartheid regime in historic Palestine

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Over 600 scholars, artists and intellectuals from more than 45 countries have signed a Declaration calling for the dismantling of the apartheid regime set up on the territory of historic Palestine and the establishment of a democratic constitutional arrangement that grants all its inhabitants equal rights and duties.

The signatories include many distinguished figures, including the Nobel Peace Prize laureates Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Mairead Maguire, academics with legal expertise Monique Chemillier-Gendreau and Richard Falk, scholars Étienne Balibar, Hagit Borer, Ivar Ekeland, Suad Joseph, Jacques Rancière, Roshdi Rashed and Gayatri Spivak, health researcher Sir Iain Chalmers, composer Brian Eno, musician Roger Waters, author Ahdaf Soueif, economist and former Assistant Secretary-General of the UN Sir Richard Jolly, South African politician and veteran anti-apartheid leader Ronnie Kasrils and Canadian peace activist and former national leader of the Green Party of Canada Joan Russow.

The Declaration states that “Israel has established an apartheid regime on the entire territory of historic Palestine and directed toward the whole of the deliberately fragmented Palestinian people”. It notes that through the adoption in 2018 by the Knesset of a new Basic Law, Israel itself no longer seeks to hide its apartheid character. This has been confirmed and exhaustively documented by widely respected human rights organizations, Adalah, B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, as well as in the UN ESCWA academic study that stresses the importance of defining Israeli apartheid as extending to people rather than limited to space.

Based on the UN conventions on Human Rights, and in particular on the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, the signatories “call for the immediate dismantling of this apartheid regime and the establishment of a democratic constitutional arrangement that grants and implements on all the inhabitants of this land equal rights and duties, without any discrimination relative to race, ethnicity, religion or gender, and which respects and enforces international law and human rights conventions, and in particular gives priority to the long deferred right of return of Palestinian refugees expelled from their towns and villages during the creation of the State of Israel, and subsequently.”

The endorsers of the Declaration urge the western powers who have facilitated and even subsidized for more than seven decades this Israeli system of colonization, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid “to cease immediately their complicity with Israel’s apartheid regime, to join in the effort to call for the dismantling of apartheid structures and their replacement by an egalitarian democratic governance that treats everyone subject to its authority in accordance with their rights and with full respect for their humanity, and to make this transition in a manner sensitive to the right of self-determination enjoyed by both peoples presently inhabiting historic Palestine.”

Princeton Professor emeritus of international law and former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories Richard Falk affirmed :

“International law imposes on governments and international institutions, including the United Nations, a solemn obligation to exert all necessary pressure on Israel, as a matter of urgency, to dismantle apartheid and restore Palestinian human rights. This Declaration, widely endorsed by so many moral authority figures, cultural leaders, and legal experts, is backed up by the findings of authoritative international reports - that provide overwhelming evidence that through its practices and policies Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people.”

Professor of linguistics at Queen Mary University of London Hagit Borer commented :

“As an Israeli born Jew, I have now lived for some 50 years with a mixture of horror and pain brought about by the constantly deepening landscape of Israel’s murderous brutality and expanding apartheid, against the background of the callous cynicism of the Jewish-Israeli citizenry, and the only slightly less cynical facilitation by the political elites in the west. I continue to harbour hopes for a just society in historic Palestine, but such a just society cannot come about until the crimes against the Palestinians come to an end, and their catastrophic results are appropriately redressed.”

Anniversary Chair of Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, London Étienne Balibar affirmed :

“Every day the situation created by the continuation of the Nakba in historic Palestine crosses new thresholds of injustice and violence. It is not enough to express sympathy for the Palestinian people. Above all it is inacceptable to see the fait accompli as sufficient reason to forget the principles. Apartheid is a crime according to international law and equality of rights and dignity is the only basis on which a ‘solution’ can be based, whatever its constitutional form. These principles have to be reaffirmed, and their consequences made compulsory.”

Professor emeritus of mathematics and former President of Paris-Dauphine University Ivar Ekeland declared :

“The dismantling of apartheid in South Africa has shown that it is possible for two people with different claims on the land to overcome injutice and mistrust and build a nation. To let an apartheid regime prosper in historic Palestine, or for that matter, in any part of the world, is to legitimate gross violations of human dignity and engage in ever-deeper cycles of repression, which will inevitably find their way into our own countries. Democracy is at stake, not only for Israelis and Palestinians, but for us.”

Notes

  1. The Declaration on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid in Historic Palestine is available here.
  2. Translations of the Declaration are available in Arabic, French, Italian and Spanish.
  3. The full list of 615 endorsers is available here.
  4. Contact : Ahmed Abbes, Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond and Jonathan Rosenhead.