Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sabeel Conference: Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine and Israel

Readers, I'll be away from my desk for a few days attending the Boston Sabeel Conference. Here's information about the event. Ann

Boston Sabeel Conference to explore “The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine-Israel” with Desmond Tutu, Naim Ateek, John Dugard, and Noam Chomsky

Archbishop Desmond Tutu will address the theme “The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine-Israel: Highlighting Issues of Justice and Equality” at a Sabeel Conference in Boston Oct. 26-27. The event at Old South Church will feature lectures and panel discussions looking at ways the South African apartheid model of ethnic/racial segregation is applied in Palestine today.

Participants will discuss the moral issues of confronting and dismantling apartheid-like policies Israel administers in the occupied Palestinian lands and the emerging role of social movements and the U.S. government in addressing injustice. The conference will culminate in a peace rally in Copley Square organized by the Boston chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Sabeel is a Palestinian Christian international grassroots peace movement based in Jerusalem which promotes nonviolence, human rights, international law, democratic principles, and Gospel teachings on justice and peace-building <>. Friends of Sabeel—North America <> works to engage American Christians through regional conferences like the one in Boston featuring Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers and experts on a variety of related topics.

Tutu, who is a Nobel Laureate, is the International Patron of Sabeel. Speaking at a New York synagogue in 1989, Tutu stated: “If you changed the names, the description of what is happening in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank would be a description of what is happening in South Africa.” Israel’s human rights group B’Tselem stated in 2002 that “Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality. This regime is the only one of its kind in the world, as is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past, such as the apartheid regime in South Africa.”

According to The Rev. Richard Toll, Friends of Sabeel-North America chair, "A serious public discussion of the apartheid-like nature of policies imposed on Palestinians by Israel really got off the ground in the United States with the publication last year of Jimmy Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Ironically it was a group of Israelis in Jerusalem and Haifa who first organized a campaign to oppose Israel’s apartheid policies in 2000, following the breakdown of the Oslo Accords and the eruption of the second Palestinian intifada. The campaign to end Israeli apartheid has since become an international grassroots effort."

Also scheduled to speak in Boston are:

- The Rev. Naim Ateek, Palestinian Anglican priest and founder of Sabeel;
- John Dugard, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian occupied territories;
- Noam Chomsky, linguist, author and lecturer;
- Diana Buttu, litigator in the 2004 case at the Hague which indicted Israel’s separation wall;
- Anat Biletzki, human rights activist, former head of B'Tselem, Israeli Information Center for Human Rights;
- Farid Esack, South African Muslim theologian currently at Harvard University;
- Jeff Halper, coordinator of The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions in Jerusalem;
- The Rev. Donald Wagner, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Northpark University, Chicago;
- Noura Erekat, initiator of the first campaign promoting divestment from Israel, at UC Berkeley;
- Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies fellow;
- Nancy Murray of the US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation;
- The Rt. Rev. Thomas Shaw, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts; and
- David Wildman, Executive Director for Human Rights & Racial Justice, General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church.

The Sabeel conference seeks to educate American Christians and others committed to building awareness of Israel's apartheid policies and U.S. responsibility for its own direct economic support of those policies. The cost to American taxpayers in dollars provided to Israel over the years for mostly military purposes exceeds $100 billion. Organizers hope the result will be informed Americans taking action. Bishop Tutu commented in The Nation in July 2002, “The end of (South African) apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure—in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation.”

Background resources:
- Settler Colonialism in South Africa and the Middle East, George Jabbour, 1970;
- Israel and South Africa: The Progression of a Relationship, Richard Stevens and Abdelwahhab Elmessiri, 1976;
- Undercutting Sanctions: Israel, the U.S. and South Africa, Jane Hunter, 1986;
- Besieged Bedfellows: Israel and the Land of Apartheid, Benjamin Joseph, 1988
- My Israel: An Apartheid State, also by Benjamin Joseph, 1987/new edition 2001.

Friends of Sabeel--North America
PO Box 9186
Portland, Oregon 97207
Ph: (503) 653-6625

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