Thursday, January 28, 2021

Experts and public convene at pro-Palestine conferences in Istanbul and London

By J.J. Rhies - April 30, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Apartheid] [Statehood ]


Monday marked the last day of a three-day conference in Istanbul on “The Question of Palestine,” which was attended by scholars, analysts and students alike.


The Center for Islam and Global Affairs at Sabahattin Zaim University hosted more than 25 speakers from across the world at the event, including Palestinian historian Salman Abu Sitta, Ohio State University Professor of Law John B. Quigley, Israeli expatriate Dr. Ilan Pappe of University of Exeter and Mandla Mandela, chief of a South African municipal council and the eldest grandson of Nelson Mandela.


The vice president of the university, Professor Nasuh Uslu, said in his opening speech that “the Palestinian cause still endures,” notwithstanding decades of oppression.


“The Palestinians deserve their fundamental human and political rights,” he added. “They too deserve justice and statehood.”


As the well-attended event was underway in Turkey, a similar event promoting the Palestinian cause took place on the other side of the continent.


Middle East Monitor (MEMO) organised a one-day event in London for April 27, convening panellists - primarily scholars and journalists - who consider Israel an apartheid state.


The conference covered the history of Palestinian citizens of Israel, questions of Palestinian-Israeli identity, and the legal and political mechanisms Israel has used to subjugate them, among other topics.


MEMO, an online Middle East news outlet based in England, said of the event: “Palestinian citizens of Israel are often written out of the Israel-Palestine conflict, since they do not fit neatly into discussions of diaspora Palestinians or the occupied Palestinian territories.


“[The] conference seeks to counter this erasure, writing them back into the discourse and exploring the challenges they face on a daily basis.”


Jonathan Cook, a conference panellist and Nazareth-based journalist, told Al Jazeera at the time that Israel’s Nation-State Law, which was a subject of discussion at the event, constitutes “comprehensive apartheid.”


The 2018 law establishes Israel as the home of the Jewish people and that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” It also makes Hebrew the sole national language, deeming Arabic a language with “special status.” Israeli Arabs comprise one-fifth of Israel’s population.


During his talk, Cook told the audience: “Stating that the [Nation-State] law turns Palestinians into second-class citizens or risks turning [Israel] into an apartheid state can easily become a trap.”


“It suggests that Israel was a normal Western-style liberal democracy before the law. But the law changes very little: Israel was established as an apartheid state.”


But he qualified his statement, saying, “The law may have done us one favour. It makes it clearer what kind of state Israel is.”

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