The International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People includes representatives from Palestine and all continents. In a strongly-worded statement, the conference condemned the Israeli occupation:
“Twelve years after the end of apartheid in South Africa, we are reminded that Israel continues to practice a system of apartheid and, further, perpetuates the longest occupation in recent history.
We civil society organizations and activists from around the world join with the United Nations once again to identify, condemn and commit ourselves to opposing these heinous crimes. As we were in the past, we are again determined that the perpetrators of that crime be brought to justice..."
In the statement civil society further committed itself
“to expand our global campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to ever broader sectors of our countries and regions”.
The Conference drew up an action plan to work with Palestinian civil society movements and NGOs over the next nine months to mark the 40 year anniversary of the Israeli occupation; to expand the global campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions and to convene a new international peace conference for the Middle East.
Achin Vanaik, Professor of International Relations and of World Politics, University of Delhi, spoke on behalf of the solidarity from the global south and underlined that “it was not possible for civil society organizations in the South to be able to fight effectively for Palestinian rights unless it recognised that there was a need to fight for more than Palestinian rights. Civil society organizations had to fight on a number of fronts: to try to bring to account the United States in Iraq, Israel and what had been done in Lebanon, how the United States was manipulating the nuclear issue in Iran, and the issue of the ideological banner of the global war on terror to provide a cover for larger geopolitical issues, namely the issue of State terrorism.”
During discussion time he further elaborated on the role Zionism played in quest for Justice in Palestine. Mr. Vanaik said that India was faced with a bitter struggle against those wishing to establish a Hindu State within India, and who admired the situation of Zionism. “To be a Zionist is to endorse the principle of a Jewish State with special rights for Jews, and this is anti-democratic. It is no excuse to say that Israel is more democratic than most Arab States. The spectrum of what was possible, realist and pragmatic, is very wide. When changing the political relationship of forces, the impossible becomes possible, and it is important for this to be borne in mind.” He further argued that “the Palestinian Liberation Movement is one of the most remarkable liberation movements of modern times, and its tragedy is that it had been strategically flexible, and tactically inflexible, when it should have been the reverse. With regards to changing the direction of political forces, there are two in this case, the larger geopolitical forces in the region, and there should be a shifting of the general forces globally, as well as work within the occupied territories and Gaza.”
Finally, Na’eem Jeenah, co-chair of the ICNP from South Africa, in his concluding words reminded all that the Plan of Action which had been deliberated was not enough: “No words can be enough to express what should be done in moving forward. The current conjuncture requires genuine and sincere solidarity, wholehearted sacrifice, and untiring commitment to the Palestinian people and the cause of justice, and even this will not be enough. The international community will never be able to make up for its desertion of the Palestinian people whilst they were robbed and continue to be robbed of their land, and were tortured and battered in an attempt to make them submit.”
He concluded that “the Plan of Action is a minimum, and the next nine months should be spent ensuring it came to fruition, with a truly global Day of Action at the end of those months, which will make those in Tel Aviv and in Washington shiver in their boots, and make it clear that the international community will no longer continue to desert the Palestinian people, but will stand by them until the attainment of their legitimate rights, self-determination, and State.”