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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

REPLY FROM THE ORGANISING SECRETARY OF THE RUSSELL TRIBUNAL

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About Maurice Ostroff

From Terry Crawford-Browne

in response to Maurice Ostroff's open letter

to the chairman and Jury of the Russell Tribunal

Subject: Open letter to the chairman of the Russell Tribunal
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2011 07:57:48 +0200

Dear Mr Ostroff
 
Now that the third session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine has concluded its work in Cape Town, I write to send you the summary of its findings.
 
In essence, Israel is subjecting Palestinian people to apartheid as defined under international law.  You will not like these findings. Nonetheless,  I hope that, as a founder member of the international coalition of Hasbara propagandists, you will henceforth desist from your abusive and deceitful correspondence including your letter to President Zuma regarding Ms Haneen Zoabi.  Similarly the hacking into the Russell Tribunal website reveals the criminal activities of Zionist operatives.
 
Click
here to read the full story.
 
The evidence is overwhelming that Israel is an apartheid state according to the criteria of international law, and that its present government is a menace to the global community. Very far from being superficial, as Judge Richard Goldstone proclaims, the parallels with apartheid South Africa are glaring.  Yet just as white South Africans deliberately did not want to see or hear about the realities of apartheid in this country, so Israeli apologists rant that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.  That has been conclusively refuted by the evidence.
 
I challenge you to stand at the Bethlehem checkpoint from 3:45 am until 7:30 am to witness the humiliation inflicted by teenage Israeli soldiers on Palestinian workers going into Jerusalem.  I also challenge you to witness the theft by illegal Israeli settlers of land and water from Palestinian villagers in the Gush Etzion enclave. 
 
Under the guise of national security, the most diabolical crimes are perpetrated against Palestinians.  Such atrocities rarely have anything to do with security. The reality is war profiteering by the Israeli military dictatorship and its business cronies. 
 
Even the former United States ambassador  reportedly described Israel as having degenerated into the promised land for organised crime.  The recent exchange between Presidents Obama and Sarkozy illustrates the exasperation of the international community with the intransigence of the Israeli government. Peace is the last thing on the agenda for the organised thuggery that masquerades as a government.  The operations of the so-called Israeli mafia are not only immensely profitable, but are politically protected and encouraged.
 
Assassinations, corruption, money laundering and outright terrorism are all justified in the national interest.  The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is led by a German-born Jew, Stephane Hessel who fled from Nazi Germany and later fought in the French Resistance. He was captured, imprisoned at Buchenwald and sentenced to death, but escaped execution and became one of the drafters of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
 
Repeated smearing of people of such impeccable credentials as Mr Hessel or Archbishop Tutu as being anti-Semitic frankly only destroys your credibility.  They and other jurists of the Russell Tribunal are deeply concerned about humanitarian impacts upon Israelis as well as upon Palestinians of the war hysteria that is deliberately fanned by members of the Israeli government.
 
Nonetheless, we remain hopeful that the people of Israel and Palestine will before long resolve this prolonged conflict and, to the surprise of the international community, will thereafter make immensely positive contributions to peace in the Middle East and the world.

Yours sincerely
 
 
Terry Crawford-Browne

 
 
 
 

Response by Maurice Ostroff

November 12, 2011

Dear Mr. Crawford-Browne

 

Thank you very much for your detailed reply to my letter. I appreciate it.

 

Although we obviously differ in our views I was hoping we would be able to conduct a civil discourse addressing the issues rationally. It is therefore very disappointing that a person of your stature finds it necessary to resort to ad hominem insults such as your allegation that my letter to President Zuma about Ms Haneen Zoabi was deceitful.

 

MK Zoabi

To the contrary. my letter was completely factual and it is the Tribunal’s letter to President Zuma that is certainly misleading in alleging that MK Zoabi was subjected to reprisals and that the reason  for the non-existent reprisals was her opposition to apartheid. I quote the exact words in that letter: at least one witness who has given evidence to the Tribunal this weekend has been subjected to reprisals because she has opposed apartheid”.

 

That allegation is doubly untrue.

 

 a) There have been no reprisals as such against MK Zoabi for attending the Tribunal, unless you consider as a reprisal the  suggestion by one MK that was rejected, that she be stripped of her citizenship, and

 

b) it  had nothing at all to do with opposition to apartheid. Nobody in Israel is censured for opposing apartheid.

 

The objections to MK Zoabi relate primarily to her participation in the IHH flotilla that attempted to break the Egyptian-Israeli blockade of Gaza. IPT News of June 3, 2010 reported that IHH has ties to Hamas (a declared terrorist organization), that a French intelligence expert revealed that IHH leaders were helping al-Qaida when Bin Laden started to target US soil and that IHH played an important role in the Al-Qaeda planned Millennium bomb plot.

 

I believe that in these circumstances, you will agree it is unsurprising that MK Zoabi’s association with IHH is criticized.

 

Zoabi is also criticized for other activities that would be considered seditious by most democratic countries, such as calling for a third intifada. And you know well how many innocent people including elderly, the frail and infants were indiscriminately massacred in buses, cafes and hotels in the Palestinian intifadas. So indiscriminate that Arabs too, fell victims.

 

 

blownupbus.jpg

Unsubstantiated allegations

Consistent with the above example of the Tribunal’s proclivity for making unsubstantiated allegations with no pretence at providing credible evidence, the Tribunal makes the reckless claim that “the hacking into the Russell Tribunal website reveals the criminal activities of Zionist operatives”. I am surprised that you subscribe to this patently irresponsible charge. Did you not consider the high probability that the malfunction might have been due to a technical fault?

 

When you say that the evidence for Israel being an apartheid state is overwhelming, I can only assume this claim is made with the same reckless disregard for credibility as the above knee-jerk allegations.

 

Your invalid and unsubstantiated statement “Peace is the last thing on the agenda for the organized thuggery that masquerades as a government. The operations of the so-called Israeli mafia are not only immensely profitable, but are politically protected and encouraged” ill befits a journalist of your stature. I am unable to deal with these broad allegations without seeing some substantiated details of actions that lead you to these mind-boggling conclusions.

 

Your allegations that my letter to President Zuma was deceitful and that I repeatedly smear Mr Hessel and Archbishop Tutu as being anti-Semitic are absurd. I challenge you to produce one shred of evidence that I have ever referred to either of these persons as anti-Semitic. In fact I consistently avoid ad hominem attacks and prefer to address the issues. I insist therefore that you either substantiate or withdraw these scurrilous allegations.

 

Goldstone

I have difficulty understanding the hysterical reactions to Judge Goldstone’s two opeds. As the views he expressed in his report were widely applauded, there is something intellectually dishonest about the outright rejection when his views differ from the fixed perceptions of his former admirers.

 

Goldstone has demonstrated courage and intellectual honesty in publicly stating his views and one should expect no less from any honest person. It is dishonest to stubbornly repeat views as if written in stone, when subsequent evidence proves otherwise. Even Einstein admitted to changing his views. He added “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

 

Challenges

Your challenge that I stand at the Bethlehem checkpoint to witness the humiliation inflicted by Israeli soldiers on Palestinians is well made. In sympathy with Israeli civilian organizations, like Machsom Watch, I am deeply disturbed by what happens at these checkpoints.

 

Unfortunately, checkpoints are necessary to prevent terrorists like recently released Palestinian prisoner Wafa Al Biss from carrying out their plans. On her return to Gaza, she encouraged cheering schoolchildren to follow her example.

 

You may know that Wafa's life was saved by doctors at Soroka hospital in Beersheba where she was successfully treated for massive burns suffered in a gas-tank explosion. She developed a good relationship with the medical team and her family was so appreciative of the six-month treatment she received that they wrote a letter of appreciation to the doctors. It said "the care was wonderful and warm".

 

Nevertheless, on June 20, 2005 Wafa entered the Erez crossing ostensibly to travel to Soroka hospital for further treatment. However, this time, she intended to carry out a suicide bombing in the hospital where she had received such excellent treatment. A belt of explosives was hidden in her underclothes.

 

Her heavy clothing aroused suspicion at the crossing and when the explosive belt was revealed, she attempted unsuccessfully, to detonate it.

 

Wafa revealed that she had been instructed by the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade to use her personal medical authorization documents, to carry out a dastardly suicide attack in a crowded portion of the Israeli hospital which had treated her.

 

Not even al-Qaeda targets hospitals and the thunderous silence of the Russell Tribunal’s jurors and witnesses about the many egregious actions of this nature that make checkpoints necessary is disturbing.

See this NBC video clip of the incident

 

Wafa’s case is not unique. There have been many instances of attempts to smuggle bombs concealed in ambulances. All these attempts are inspired by incessant incitement to violence and hatred of Jews and infidels.

 

My question to you is how can we discourage the PA and Hamas from their continuous incitement and encouragement of terrorism, so that security measures like checkpoints and the Wall become unnecessary and a two-state solution becomes possible?

 

The PA repeatedly rejects Israel's right to exist, presents the conflict as a religious battle for Islam and Israel's destruction is taught as a Palestinian obligation.

 

A Fatah member of Palestinian parliament, Najat Abu Bakr, told PA TV that the PA’s public position is the old “stages plan” to proclaim publicly that what they seek is only the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while in fact the real goal is all of Israel.

 

The above views are consistent with the hate-filled charters of the PLO and Hamas which bear no resemblance to the ANC’s Freedom Charter. While the ANC Charter states “South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation - not war” article 9 of the PLO Charter declares that armed struggle is not merely tactical, it is the overall strategy.

 

The Hamas charter makes it absolutely clear there is no room for peaceful negotiation. Article 13 unambiguously states “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. . proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time”.

 

The irrationality of the Hamas concept, so different from the sober tone of the ANC Charter, is illustrated by obsessive phobia about freemasons, rotary clubs, Lions and similar organizations, promising that these organizations will be obliterated when Islam is in control.

 

It is implausible to expect persons who subscribe to the above principles and are indoctrinated from infancy to hate their neighbours, to seek peace with them. Allow me to refer you to the example of this video clip

 

Since you challenged me, I reciprocate by challenging you to view the above clips, read the charters and then justify the Tribunal’s deliberate avoidance of these realities in the context of the ME conflict.

 

Organized Crime

I cannot see the relevance of your reference to the Wikileaks revelation that a former US ambassador reported on organized crime in Israel other than this being another big stick to wield against Israel. Yes! Organized crime is a large and distressing problem in Israel as in many other countries and we are doing our best to deal with it, but with respect I ask what it has to do with apartheid?

 

Surely you will agree that South Africa and Zimbabwe have greater problems with their organized crime? Permit me to quote Matthew 7:5, “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye”.

 

Positive contribution to Peace

I would like very much to pursue the sentiment in your final paragraph in which you say “Nonetheless, we remain hopeful that the people of Israel and Palestine will before long resolve this prolonged conflict and, to the surprise of the international community, will thereafter make immensely positive contributions to peace in the Middle East and the world”.

 

 I would be very pleased to promote this worthy aim in cooperation with you.


Sincerely

 

 

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