Statement by United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
- Written by Lynn Hastings, UN OCHA Lynn Hastings, UN OCHA
- Published: 06 May 2022 06 May 2022
AFL-CIO in Oregon calls for urgent divestment from fund that owns Israeli spyware company alleged to have targeted union members
When labour organisers passed a resolution this month calling for Oregon’s $100bn state pension fund to divest from a fund that owns NSO Group, it pointed to ways in which the Israeli company’s intrusive spyware is alleged to have been used in the past to target union members.
“It may seem like a cliche, but an injury to one is an injury to all, and we strongly stand behind that,” said Ira Erbs, a part-time professor at Portland Community College and member of the Oregon chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.
Erbs is part of a growing movement of union members in Oregon who are seeking greater transparency from Oregon’s Democratic state treasurer, Tobias Read, about how public employee retirement funds are invested.
Activists such as Erbs have already pressed Read on the retirement fund’s investments in fossil fuels, and in companies that operate private prisons. Now, they are focused on the Oregon fund’s longstanding indirect investment in NSO, the maker of one of the world’s most sophisticated surveillance technologies.
An investigation into NSO by the Pegasus project, an international media consortium led by the French non-profit Forbidden Stories, reported last year that the mobile phone numbers of dozens of Mexican teachers – part of a faction within Mexico’s politically powerful teachers union – had been targeted for possible surveillance in 2016 by the Mexican government, at a time when the union was expressing objections to proposed government reforms.
When Amnesty International released its report "Israel's Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity" earlier the month, it was clearly part of a rapidly expanding trend. Palestinian human rights defenders, members of Congress and faith leaders in the United States, academics, and activists of the Palestinian rights movement around the world have long recognized and condemned Israeli apartheid, and called for accountability.
More recently, influential human rights organizations and experts have produced a spate of reports analyzing and condemning the phenomenon. Amnesty's report emerged after acclaimed Israeli human rights advocacy organizations published their reports: 18 months after Yesh Din's "The Occupation of the West Bank and the Crime of Apartheid: Legal Opinion," and a year after B'tselem's "A Regime of Jewish Supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This Is Apartheid." Amnesty's arrived eight months after Human Rights Watch published "A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution."
The precedents had actually been emerging even earlier—almost five years before, experts commissioned by the UN's Economic and Social Commission of West Asia had authored "Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid" (though pressure from Israel's supporters forced ESCWA to remove the report from its website).
"This slew of recent reports come to the legal conclusion that Israel's actions of discrimination, dispossession, and more, were carried out for the purpose of ensuring the dominance of one racial or national group over another."
The reports all build on each other, though their conclusions differ in some specifics, including where in the varied territories it controls Israel's actions constituted the crime of apartheid, when it started, and more. Yesh Din limited their assessment of apartheid to the West Bank; HRW found the crime of apartheid was being committed in all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)—meaning Gaza, the West Bank, and occupied East Jerusalem—while inside the 1948 border of Israel the crime was that of persecution. B'tselem went further, holding Israel guilty of the crime of apartheid throughout all of historic Palestine—"from the river to the sea" as the statement goes. The UN's ESCWA report, written in 2017 by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley, went furthest, by including the Palestinian refugees, whose right to return to their homes Israel has long been denied.
But crucially, this slew of recent reports come to the legal conclusion that Israel's actions of discrimination, dispossession, and more, were carried out for the purpose of ensuring the dominance of one racial or national group over another—for the purpose of empowering Israeli Jews at the expense of Palestinians—and that therefore Israel was committing the crime of apartheid.
Read more at Common Dreams
But Tutu’s real crime in the eyes of Israel’s most unrelenting supporters was to liken its rule over the Palestinians to apartheid and then refuse to back off in the face of an onslaught of abuse. On his visits to Israel and Palestine, Tutu would have immediately recognised echoes of his homeland in the forced removals, the house demolitions, the humiliations of checkpoints and systems of control on movement, the confiscation of land for Jewish settlements, and the confining of Palestinians to blobs of territory, reminiscent of the Bantustan black homelands. Above all he saw one people controlling another who, like black South Africans until 1994, had little say in their governance.
Tutu was not alone in his view. Former US president Jimmy Carter drew similarly vitriolic accusations from Dershowitz and others when he published his bestselling book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, in 2006. But Tutu was harder to attack. He not only had the authority of a Nobel peace prize awarded for his courageous stand against white rule in South Africa but he knew apartheid when he saw it.