MA'AN (Together) Issue 4 - World Conference Against Racism

1. Editorial
2. On the Ground News from Palestine
3. Developments in Durban
4. Frequently Asked Questions
5. Contacts

1. Editorial

This is the fourth bulletin from the Media Team of the Arab Caucus consisting of Arab NGOs attending the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Other Forms of Intolerance.

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Contact: Shawqi Issa (Arab Caucus secretariat): +27-(0)82-3770669; Arjan El Fassed (English-language media): +27-(0)82-3700216; Victoria Metcalfe (English language media): +27-(0)82-8580114; Christina Ruiz (Spanish and Latin American media): +34 699986971)

The bulletin is online at the Arab NGOs Caucus On-Line at http://arabcivilsociety.net/WCARcaucus/

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2. On the Ground News from Palestine

Yesterday, an Israeli tank fired at Aida refugee camp, injuring seven Palestinian refugees. The Israeli occupation forces encircled the refugee camp and closed all entrances. Israeli occupation forces deployed tanks and armed vehicles around the village of al-Khader, while the Lutheran school of Beit Jala, which hosts Palestinian orphans, was being invaded and held 45 Palestinian children hostage. Around 50 Palestinians, mostly children, living in a building next to the school were also taken hostage and were held in the first floor of the building.

In Ramallah, settlers shot and killed Haider Kan'an (24) who was on his way to work. As his father and brother, who were both injured in the settler's assault, filed a complaint with Israeli soldiers, the soldiers refused to investigate the case and instead arrested the martyr's father and brother.

Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation forces imposed a siege on the city of Nablus. This city and all its surrounding villages are completely isolated. A number of villages has been put under curfew, preventing Palestinians to leave their homes. In Hebron, Israeli occupation forces stationed at Israeli settlements have been firing and shelling the Sheikh area in the city. Also Hebron is under siege by the occupation forces. Palestinian residents of the city's center are prevented from leaving their homes, while settlers are allowed to move freely.

More information can be found at the website of LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights, http://www.lawsociety.org and The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, http://www.pchrgaza.org and at al-Haq at http://www.alhaq.org

3. Developments in Durban

Yesterday morning, Israeli delegates and state-sponsored Zionist NGOs, defied the WCAR rules and put up a table, and distributed flyers including Israeli propaganda and myth. This provoked Palestinian delegates and those in support of the Palestinian struggle for justice and equality. While the Israeli delegates sang "give peace a chance, those in support of the Palestinians chanted "no justice, no peace" and " Israel, apartheid state". After filing a complaint by the Arab Caucus and the Palestine Solidarity Committee, the ICC ordered the table to be removed. According to the rules, delegates can register for exhibition space, only at the exhibition center.

Opening the thematic commission on Foreign Occupation, Colonialism and New Forms of Apartheid, Palestinian intellectual and Knesset member, Dr Azmi Bishara stated that, "the permanent nature of the settlement movement and Israel's insistence on it, contradicts the apparently temporary nature of the occupation. At the same time, an official policy of annexation, leading to the formation of a formal legal system of apartheid, is never declared. Israel strains to escape this dilemma by imposing a system of self-rule on the population that it considers a permanent peace settlement, conditional on the ending of the conflict. However, limited self-rule in a Bantu-state is a compromise between Israel's inability (due to international constraints) to establish a formal apartheid system, and its refusal to accept the conditions of a just peace, through recognizing the unconditional right of the Palestinian people to independence- this is the new form of Apartheid that exists in historical Palestine".

Meanwhile, at the thematic commission on Anti-Semitism, Jewish delegates who oppose Israel's racist state practices were not allowed to voice their concerns. Orthodox Jews of Neturei Karta International protested outside the tent, where the discussions were taking place and stated that "there is no war between Jewry and the Arab and Islamic world. This is a Zionist myth created, caused and perpetuated by the Israeli state."

Today, at 13:00, a workshop, organized by LAW- The Society for the Protection for Human Rights and the Environment will take place. Key note speakers and topics of discussion will include: Mohammad Jaradat (BADIL) on refugees, Dianne Luping (LAW) on Apartheid and Bantustans, Uri Davis (Al-Bayt) about Israel, the apartheid state, Rana Nashashibi on targeted victims and Jehad Abbas (IBDA'A) on refugee children. The workshop also includes Rabbis for Human Rights, the National Campaign for Dalits Human Rights and others. The workshop will be followed by a press conference at 4pm.

A demonstration will take place on 31 August organized by the Durban Social Forum and coordinated with SANGOCO. The march and rally will address the plight of the Palestinian people amongst others. The march will start at 10h00 from Natal Tech via UN Conference to Holy Park rally in Durban.

4. Frequently Asked Questions

Today, we answer the following question: Why don't Israelis and Palestinians just end the violence and come to the negotiation table?

First of all one most understand the root causes of the violence, which is Israel's system of racism, apartheid and colonialism. The root cause is the brutal occupation of Palestinian lands and homes. The current uprising is a direct result of the continuation of Israel's military occupation following the 1993 Oslo signing, which saw seven years of further Israeli repression, including home demolitions, land confiscation, settlement expansion, agricultural destruction, mass arrests, torture, unprecedented closures of Palestinian towns, and the shooting of unarmed demonstrators in non-life-threatening situations. This was the real "fuel" for the uprising -- a legacy of human rights violations, a disregard of international law, and the daily indignities visited upon the Palestinian people.

By refusing to live up to its obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), by withdrawing from all the occupied territories and allowing the refugees to finally go home, it is Israel which has prolonged the conflict and blocked the only viable solution. The Palestinian people can hardly be expected to simply accept a status quo based on the ongoing denial of their most basic human and national rights, with no apparent end in sight.

Much of the media portrays the current conflict between the Palestinians and the Israeli occupying army as an encounter or contest between equals, ignoring the massive imbalance of military, economic, political and diplomatic power between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

Editors Note: If you have any questions you would like addressed in the 'Frequently Asked Questions' section of this bulletin, please let us know. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

5. Contacts

This bulletin is prepared by the Media Team of the Arab Caucus on behalf of Arab human rights NGOs attending the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Other Forms of Intolerance.

The Arab Caucus secretariat consists of Nazar Abdelgadir, Said Bakri, Shawqi Issa, Ameer Makhoul, and Yousri Mustafa.

The Media Team: Arjan El Fassed; Victoria Metcalfe; Nadira Bayat; Christina Ruiz; Annet Meeuws.

Contact: Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.