The “1st Global Conference on Israeli Apartheid: Dimensions, Repercussions and the Means to Combat it”, was held in Istanbul, Turkey on November 29 and 30, 2019. It was organized by the Global Organization against Racial Discrimination and Segregation, in partnership with The Union of NGOs of the Islamic World (iDSB). The conference was attended by over 250 scholars, experts, jurists, activists, and civil society organizations from all around the world.
In the conference’s four plenary sessions, twenty scholars and activists presented their views, and discussed with participants, specific dimensions and repercussions of Israeli apartheid including its impact on our understanding of the conflict and the paths to its resolution, the tools it employs against different segments of the Palestinian people, its consequences and implications for the region and the world, and optimum strategies for combating it. You can find the full schedule of the conference here.
In the first plenary session, professors Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley presented an update to the ESCWA report published in March 2017. In the ESCWA report, Professors Falk and Tilley concluded that Israel was guilty of perpetrating the international crime of apartheid, not regarding Palestinians living under occupation but all Palestinians, including those in refugee camps and those living as a minority in Israel.
The Update to the ESCWA report presented at the conference included two essays: “The Necessary Shift: From Ending the Occupation to Ending Apartheid” by Richard Falk, and “Reimagining Palestine: Implications of the ESCWA Report for a Paradigm Shift” by Virginia Tilley. The Update to the ESCWA Report concludes that a political settlement can only be achieved at this stage by a single unified Palestine with equal rights for all. “Falk’s essay explains the failures of the two-state, partition approach by reference to Zionist aspirations and obstacles posed by apartheid structures. It refrains from drawing inferences as to the proper way forward beyond its rejection of the two-state approach as superseded by facts on the ground, although it argues for a shift of focus from intergovernmental diplomacy to civil society anti-apartheid activism. Tilley’s essay reaches similar conclusions, considering how the Oslo process and its implicit aim of a two-state solution was stymied by an ideology of racial domination that inspires Israel to annex the West Bank, yet was never properly confronted by Oslo diplomacy. Her paper argues that only a unified secular state that does not privilege any ethnicity can produce a sustainable peace and that adopting such an approach is alone capable of breaking the diplomatic impasse.”
The conference opened with a public session that included speeches by Dr. Rima Khalaf the president of The Global Organization against Racial Discrimination and Segregation and the former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Atty. Ali Kurt Secretary General of The Union of NGOs of the Islamic World (iDSB), Adnan Tanriverdi the chief advisor of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Attalla Hannah the Archbishop of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
After two days of deliberations, participants in the conference issued a final communique in which they expressed their conclusion that “dismantling the Israeli apartheid regime, as well as all forms of racial discrimination, exploitation, and segregation, is a necessary precondition for reaching a true, just and durable peace”, and their commitment to “continue to work together, and with all individuals and entities committed to justice, human rights and equality, until justice is served, and the Israeli apartheid regime is fully dismantled as a precondition to a genuine and sustainable peace.”