Israel Review Conference comes to a Close as Durban Review Conference Begins

20 April 2009

Thousands of people have gathered in Geneva from all corners of the globe to attend the Durban Review Conference.

Despite official efforts to exclude the voices of the victims, it has brought together many civil society actors struggling against racial discrimination, including those working to end Israel’s regime of racism and racial discrimination against the Palestinians. The latter have just completed a two-day Israel Review Conference that was held on 18-19 April 2009.

The Israel Review Conference brought 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 first day of the conference included two main panels that dealt with the applicability of the crime of apartheid to the state of Israel, and the development of
legal strategies for obtaining the accountability of Israel and other states for their obligations under international law to respect the rights of the Palestinian people.

Practical recommendations were developed on the second day of the conference in workshops about the joint struggle of victimized communities for justice and equality; a global campaign against the Jewish National Fund as a major agency of Israel’s racial discrimination; popular initiatives for promoting prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity; and the growing global movement for Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel pending compliance with international law.

“It has been clear that Israel has worked to ensure that its regime of racial discrimination is not scrutinized at the Durban Review” said Rania Madi, one of the conference organizers. “These efforts are a major reason for the boycott of the conference by many states. The UN has tried to appease the United States, in particular, by sacrificing core issues. Now we are neither here nor there: those states are not attending, and the UN Conference will not address such core issue as Israel’s protracted regime of apartheid, colonialism and occupation over the Palestinian people.”

“It is important to remind ourselves why efforts such as this Israel Review Conference are important” says Pierre Galland, a former Belgian Senator and President of the European Coordinating Committee on Palestine (ECCP). “We undertake them because we cannot be sure that governments and the UN will do their job. We are here to ensure that they will eventually do so.”

The Israel Review Conference was organized by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) in coordination the European Coordinating Committee on Palestine, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and the International CoordinatingNetwork on Palestine.