IJAN Co-sponsors the Israel Review Conference

The Israel Review Conference took place in Geneva on 18 – 19 April, two days before the United Nations’ Durban Review Conference,intended as an opportunity to examine the progress made inimplementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA)adopted by the World Conference Against Racism (2001) and strengthenits recommendations.

The Israel Review Conference was sponsored by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) in cooperation with three organizations: IJAN, the European Coordinating Committee on Palestine (ECCP), and International Coordinating Network on Palestine (ICNP).

The event built off of the Bilbao Declaration and Program of Action,issued on 31 October 2008 following a gathering of Palestinian,progressive Israeli and international organizations and socialmovements in Bilbao, Spain.

As stated in a Palestinian BNC press releaseon 18 April, the Israel Review Conference received added importanceonce the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)banned side events examining the Israeli regime at the official DurbanReview Conference. Despite the fact that Israel’s racism againstPalestinians has been one of the most highlighted issues in the lead-upto the Durban Review, the BNC’s Israel Review Conference became theonly place where the issue was actually discussed.

“Theonly justification for preventing side-events discussing racism facedby Palestinians is that UN officials want to avoid offending Israelisensibilities and those of its allies, such as the US and Canada,”states Ingrid Jaradat Gassner, Director of the Badil Resource Centerfor Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, a member-organization ofthe BNC. “This is especially troubling because Palestinians wereidentified as victims of racism at the original Durban Conference in2001, and the effects of Israel’s racist regime against Palestinianhave only worsened since then” says Ms. Jaradat Gassner.

Asthe press release of the event states, The Israel Review Conferencebrought together over three hundred people from five continents,including human rights activists and experts from South Africa,Malaysia and several European and Middle Eastern countries. The firstday of the conference included two main panels that dealt with theapplicability of the crime of apartheid to the state of Israel, and thedevelopment of legal strategies for obtaining the accountability ofIsrael and other states for their obligations under international lawto respect the rights of the Palestinian people.

Practicalrecommendations were developed on the second day of the conference inworkshops and planning meetings on the following topics: the jointstruggle of victimized communities for justice and equality; a globalcampaign against the Jewish National Fund as a major agency of Israel’sracial discrimination; popular initiatives for promoting prosecution ofwar crimes and crimes against humanity; and the growing global movementfor Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel pendingcompliance with international law.

Activists organizing BDS campaigns across Europegathered to share strategies and identify possibilities for coordination movingforward. Their work ranges from consumer boycotts to direct action insupermarkets demanding the deshelving of Israeli products.  Cultural boycott is underway with directactions held at cultural events that promote Israeli artists or writers and thepressuring of artists to withdraw from film festivals, concerts and eventsinside of Israel. Legal action and campaigns are buildingmomentum for sanctions against Israeli military officials for war crimes andagainst European companies that participate in these crimes through providingmaterials used in Israeli’s military actions. IJAN France and UK are activein these campaigns.

IJANorganized a panel on the Jewish National Fund campaign with HabitatInternational Coalition, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Committeeand the Palestinian BNC as well as a panel with United Against Racismon building joint struggle across grassroots movements and Palestineliberation in the United States.

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