It beggars belief that a report as sane and significant as that of the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories should receive so little attention in the media. To its credit, the Globe and Mail did give it 87 words on February 24th but only to say how annoyed Israel was with it. The New York Times and Christian Science Monitor made no mention of it and the Guardian only referred to it obliquely, though good for them.
This is the gist of what the Rapporteur said: that Palestinians terrorize Israelis with Qassam rockets and the IDF terrorizes Palestinians with incursions, sonic booms and so on, and all of this is condemned.
"Common sense, however, dictates that a distinction must be drawn between acts of mindless terror, such as acts committed by Al Qaeda, and acts committed in the course of a war of national liberation against colonialism, apartheid, or military occupation. While such acts cannot be justified, they must be understood as being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid, or occupation." Also,
"In other situations, for example Namibia, peace has been achieved by the ending of occupation, without setting the end of resistance as a precondition.
"Israel cannot expect perfect peace and the end of violence as a precondition for the ending of the occupation. Israel exploits the present international fear of terrorism to the full. But this will not solve the Palestinian problem. Israel must address the occupation and the violation of human rights and international humanitarian law it engenders, and not invoke the justification of terrorism as a distraction, as a pretext for failure to confront the root cause of Palestinian violence - the occupation."
He goes on to explain that Gaza is still effectively ´occupied.'
"The test for determining whether a territory is occupied under international law is effec- tive control, and not the permanent physical presence of the occupying Power's military forces. Judged by this test it is clear that Israel remains the occupying Power"...in Gaza.
There is substantial control of Gaza's six land crossings; control through military incursions, rocket attacks and sonic booms; complete control of Gaza's airspace and territorial waters; and control of the Palestinian Population Registry.
He ends, "Failure to attempt to implement, or even to acknowledge, an advisory opinion dealing with international humanitarian law and human rights law, brings the very commitment of the United Nations to human rights into question."
Thanks so much for your interview with Colonel Robert Helvey. His account of training Burmese dissidents in strategic nonviolence is truly inspiring. It's imperative that we understand what is behind nonviolent social change. It is, very often, the result of years of preparation and training.
I particularly appreciated Helvey's explanation of the psychology of the military, and how it may be possible to get them on the side of the nonviolent revolution, rather than cracking down on them for the dictators.
It is critical in nonviolent social transformation to consider how to build the allies necessary to succeed -- in the case of Burma, how to go beyond the monks and the students in order to topple the dictatorship.
We need much more of this training, not only where people are living under a dictatorship, but also in North America and Europe, where people are really unaware of their power, and who may not yet have done the visioning on where we need to go in future.
With the imminent challenge of climate chaos, and the related resource conflicts, the need for strategic nonviolent action will only be increasing in future. Let's meet that challenge with preparation and creativity.
Nonviolent Peaceforce Canada
Science for Peace has sponsored a committee that has been examining the implications of carbon taxation as a response to the challenge of climate change. Having studied the question over several months, members of the committee are offering free presentations to groups in the Toronto area. If interested, call 416/978-3606.