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1879Follow-up correspondence with the organizing secretary of the Russell Tribunal

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  • Maurice Ostroff
    Nov 20, 2011
      Below is portion of the follow-up correspondence with the organizing secretary of the Russell Tribunal
      The complete correspondence is available at http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id369.html#tcb

      November 20, 2011
      Dear Mr. Crawford-Browne,
      I am disappointed that instead of addressing the legitimate concerns that I raised in my letter of November 12, you resorted to insultingly express the hope that I will "desist from the distasteful vehemence of the Israeli hasbara campaign". Name calling, especially unjustified name-calling, is hardly a satisfactory substitute for serious dialogue. As you know, this correspondence is being publicized and I leave it to readers to evaluate whether or not my letter of November 12 contained anything resembling "distasteful vehement hasbara" and whether it deserved a considered reply to the issues I had raised.
      By the way hasbarah means clarification or explanation. It does not mean propaganda in the negative sense as is common in Palestinian areas, examples of which may be seen on the web site http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=567. Perhaps you will agree that this type of inciteful propaganda is the main obstacle to a peaceful solution. On the other hand, I would expect any open minded person to welcome credible clarifications, rather than obstinately closing their eyes to any inconvenient information that may not coincide with preconceived ideas.
      According to IOL News of September 16, you justifiably insisted that the arms deal enquiry commission in South Africa "has got to have reliable and credible people.." http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/crawford-browne-wants-credible-probe-1.1138885
      I therefore ask in all sincerity why this principle was not applied to the Russell Tribunal whose jury and witnesses comprised only persons who lacked credibility because of their widely-known anti-Israel views. The term "jury" was particularly inappropriate as the members certainly would not have passed a real jury selection process. Had they been credible, the Tribunal would have avoided the "kangaroo court" description that has been widely applied tp it. 
      There is one aspect of my letter in particular to which I urge you to respond, namely my request that you either substantiate or withdraw your allegations that my letter to President Zuma was deceitful and that I repeatedly smear Mr Hessel and Archbishop Tutu as being anti-Semitic. You will recall that I challenged you to produce one shred of evidence that I have ever referred to either of these persons as anti-Semitic. In fact I consistently avoid ad hominem attacks and prefer to address the issues.
      As recommended by you, I read with great interest Archbishop Tutu's address to the Tribunal and I must express disappointment in the Tribunal's utter failure to heed his excellent advice. Contrary to his exhortation that "Forgiveness is much more than attributing blame or winning arguments", the entire session was occupied in attributing blame to one side only, without the slightest attempt to understand the context and without the slightest trace of forgiveness.
      The Tribunal also completely ignored the archbishop's main message "My charge to the Russell Tribunal is thus:  Please ensure that your deliberations contribute to peace and reconciliation in Israel and Palestine.  Please be careful to leave the door open for forgiveness, for a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.  Please remember you are dealing with your brothers and sisters here"
      I have not been able to locate in Haaretz the quote by Angela Merkel to which you refer "that every word that comes out of Netanyahu's mouth is a lie", but I agree that if in fact she did make this statement, it is very unpleasant and damaging. But I ask in what way you consider it relevant to our discussion about allegations of Israel as an apartheid state.  It is as irrelevant as referring to the statement published by the SABC that "Judge Andre le Grange has found that Crawford-Browne has persistently made defamatory and false allegations about Manuel". Both statements are red herrings, neither of which contributes anything to understanding the discussion about the Rusell Tribunal.,2172,165408,00.html
      Maurice Ostroff