The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTOP), which aims to bring the issue of Palestinian rights to “a court of the people,” will hold its fourth and final session this weekend at Cooper Union in Manhattan. Three previous RTOP sessions that have taken place in Barcelona, London and Cape Town since 2009 produced concluding documents calling Israel an apartheid state, describing the Gaza blockade as “slow motion genocide” and denouncing alleged “corporate complicity” in the Israeli occupation.
The tribunal’s “jury” and “witnesses” are comprised of anti-Israel activists and analysts like Cynthia McKinney; Mairead Maguire, a participant in the May 2010 flotilla; and John Dugard, a South African attorney and former Special Rapporteur on human rights for the U.N. who authored a report comparing Israeli policies to apartheid, as well as Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Alice Walker, the author of The Color Purple. In light of this extremely biased composition, it is obvious what the final “verdict,” which will be announced at a press conference on Monday, October 8, will look like.
A number of prominent anti-Israel activists are also scheduled to speak at specific sessions, including Huwaida Arraf, co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement; Phyllis Bennis, a co-founder of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation; and Diana Buttu, who recently appeared at a “one-state solution” conference at Harvard University.
In fact, the tribunal’s website makes it clear that it will not be an objective inquiry: “The Tribunal aims to bring attention to the complicity and responsibility of various national, international and corporate actors in the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the perpetuation of Israel’s impunity under international law.”