Excerpts from the Address by Hanan Ashrawi to The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerances.

Durban, South Africa August 28, 2001

Sisters and Brothers,  

From Jerusalem, from the heart of Palestine, a land besieged, and repeatedly violated by a most brutal Israeli military occupation,I have come to join you today.

How central to the Palestinians is Jerusalem? Mecca is the most important religious city for Muslims
From the midst of the people of Palestine, a tortured nation, guilty only of an unwavering commitment to freedom, dignity, and independenc, Does this commitment to freedom include the use of suicide bombers against children?

I have come to join you today. From the depths of unredeemed history, I have come to join you today. I represent a narrative of exclusion, denial, racism, and national victimization, but I also come with a message of hope, redemption, and historical vindication embodied in the spirit and the will of a people that has refused to succumb to all forces of oppression, violence, cruelty, and injustice.


The idea of the Jewish State is Racist is one of the most difficult to combat, because it has gained such acceptance and has been endorsed by the United Nations, a kind of buzz word or "truism" that no-one explores.

The concept that Zionism is racist is based on a total misinterpretation of the meaning of Zionism. Judaism is a religion and a people with a language, culture, history and land. This is the basis of Zionism. It does not define the Jewish people as a race, or just a religion.

References from introduction under title What is Zionism?

The Law of Return, which allows all Jews to return as citizens to Israel, is founded on the belief that all Jews are already citizens of a dispersed nation. Thus, the Law of Return is just formal recognition of this citizenship.

References from introduction under title What is the Law of Return?

Israel's great expenditures and efforts in absorbing Jews from India, and, most recently, black Jews from Ethiopia (and even non-Jewish Vietnamese refugees) categorically prove that the activities of Zionism are based on national, not racial lines.

Immigration laws for non-Jews into Israel are more liberal than in most western countries.

Anti-Israel speakers, such as those at the Durban conference, try to make Israeli audiences feel guilty for their support of the Jewish state. Israel has no apologies to make for being a Jewish state. Indeed, the State of Israel's existence was recognized by a UN resolution.

Israel guarantees freedom of religion for all its inhabitants, which is not the case in many of the countries promoting the fiasco at the Durban conference, who discriminate against and persecute non-Muslims, or even other Muslim sects.

Israel guarantees equal rights to all her citizens, regardless of sex, creed or color. This is not the case of the many countries that declared Israel racist in Durban, who persecute and discriminate against ethnic minorities and any other forms of non-violent opposition.

... I come to you today with a heavy heart leaving behind a nation in captivity held hostage to an ongoing Nakba [catastrophe], as the most intricate and pervasive expression of persistent colonialism, apartheid, racism, and victimization. The claim that Zionism is colonialist is curious. In 1948 Britain was the colonial power. The Jews fought against this colonial power.

In Israel, Israeli Arabs have full right to vote. In the Knesset where there are 120 seats six are Israeli Arabs.

Many anti-Israel speakers claim that Israel is racist by quoting so called collaboration between Israel and the former apartheid regime in South Africa. The true facts are simply withheld. On the one hand, many countries, including the U.S., maintained diplomatic ties with the former South African government. On the other, during the apartheid period, the trade volume between black African countries and South African was seven times that of Israel's. Moreover, 76% of the South Africa's oil came from the Arab Gulf states.

More than half a century ago [53 years], the Palestinians as a people were slated for national obliteration, cast outside the course of history, their identity denied, and their very human cultural and historical reality suppressed. We became victims of the myth of a land without a people for people without a land, whereby the West sought to assuage its guilt over its horrendous anti-Semitism by the total victimization of a whole nation. Zionism sought to implement its agenda of exclusivity by usurping not only the lands and rights of the Palestinians, but also by confiscating their utterance and distorting their historical narrative.

In 1948, we became subject to a grave historical injustice manifested in a dual victimization: on the one hand, the injustice of dispossession, dispersion, and exile forcibly enacted on the population that has come to be known as the refugee question that currently encompasses more than 5 million Palestinians. On the other hand, those that remained were subject to the systematic oppression and brutality of an inhuman occupation that robbed them of all their rights and liberties, including their national identity on their own land.

It is also inaccurate and revisionist, in the most questionable sense of the term: Partition into a Jewish and an Arab state was voted at the UN on October 29th 1947, but rejected by the Arab states.
... Rarely has the human mind devised such varied, diverse, and comprehensive means of wholesale brutalization and persecution.






Since 1967, Palestinian land has been expropriated at an increasing pace, while whole Jewish populations have been brought in, in a calculated scheme of settler colonization. Throughout the land, an artificial and colonial grid of infrastructure was superimposed on our authentic reality to create a spurious settler superstructure as a means of Israeli demographic, geographic, and extraterritorial incursions into Palestine.


So-called bypass roads for the exclusive use of the illegal Jewish settler population [the bypass roads were first created to avoid contact between tear through the heart of Palestinian land, to bypass Palestinian realities and create a unique form of racism.

Until now, this has related primarily to Israeli Arabs. Now the text turns to the issue of the population in the area Israel won when attacked by Jordan in June 1967. Until 1967, this area was under Jordanian rule, unrecognized in international law. Some of it (The Etzion Bloc), had even been purchased legally in 1929 for Jewish settlement, but the inhabitants there and those with far earlier residence in Hebron were attacked and slaughtered. Under the Armistice agreements, it was Israel whose Jewish citizens were deprived of their rights to visit Jewish holy sites, which were desecrated...

There is a great deal of controversy in Israel about the other settlement areas in Judea and Samaria/West Bank and up to the Jordan River, irrespective of any Israeli investment in infrastructure (sanitation, electricity...). Discussion addresses either the need for strategic depth, or the historic link to the Land of Israel, on the one hand ; on the other hand, there is a sincere discussion of the human rights' issues. This was borne out under the Oslo Process: 97% of the Palestinian population today is already under PA jurisdiction. Ehud Barak was willing to concede 95 per cent of the West Bank and Gaza, to compromise on settlements and Jerusalem. More territory has not been conceded, simply because Israel's security has been put at risk due to non-compliance with the terms of the Accords.

Actually, Palestinians were free to use the roads as well - until this past year, when they started using them for target practice on innocent civilians.

... Another unique manifestation of Israeli racism is the blatant and sinister policy of demographic engineering. To maintain the Jewish character, or the purity of the state of Israel, the Palestinians have been depicted and dealt with as a demographic threat. Proposed remedies included calls for forced birth control and population manage- ment, to transfer and expulsion of whole communities, to the racist and punitive unilateral separation scheme currently being advocated.


No one in Israel has ever suggested enforced birth control, but Yassir Arafat himself has called to actively raise the Arab birth rate and thereby change the demographic balance inside Israel and the disputed territories!

See www.israelinsider.com for Middle East population and territorial statistics in Flash 5 charts.

The "transfer" option remains well outside the Israeli political consensus.

Unilateral separation is currently being mooted in the Israeli government for reasons of self-defense, solely because of the continuing violence and breakdown of the Oslo process.

A state of siege has been imposed not only on the West Bank and Gaza, but also within these territories, to transform each village, town, and city into an isolated prison, thereby destroying every aspect of human life, including economic, educational, health, and social cohesiveness in an attempt to sever every fiber of the fabric of normal life. Israeli occupation troops using tanks, helicopter gunships, F-16s, military barges, and checkpoints, not only render a whole Palestinian population captive in 64 isolated bantustans, they also use the full force of their military power against a vulnerable and defenseless people.

Daily, they shell Palestinian homes assassinate Palestinian activists and leaders, destroy crops and fields, indulge in cold-blooded murder of children and other innocents while implementing a policy of deliberate humiliation and suffocation at every checkpoint.


Israeli is responding to terrorism where it occurs, not attacking civilians; it is acting to prevent attacks on civilian sites and road traffic.
There has been tremendous suffering on all sides, but these steps were not taken against the Palestinian population. It is never too late to stop terrorism and incitement to violence, for the benefit of all our civilians.



Sharon's incursion into the Haram Al-Sharif on September 28, 2000, was only the calculated spark that ignited a powder keg already in place as a result of the inequities of the process itself.


The independent, USA-sponsored Commission of Inquiry, the Mitchell Commission, found this to be false and brings other conclusions.

.. Sisters and brothers, I appeal to you today, to restore the absent Palestinians to the agenda of humanity, to validate our reality and rights, to recognize and alleviate the pain and suffering of this tortured nation, and to give recognition to the Palestinian narrative long denied. You are the only source of empowerment for a people who feel abandoned and disempowered, but who have never lost faith in human solidarity and a shared vision of emancipation.

I appeal to you, as I have often done to governments and global fora, not to adopt the stance of cowardly neutrality, for in the struggle against oppression, injustice, racism, intolerance, colonialism, and exclusion, there can be NO neutrality. We are all called upon to take sides on behalf of the victim, the disenfranchised, and the oppressed, and to stem the tide of evil and prevent the forces of darkness from prevailing. Here, there is no US veto to deprive us of protection and our rights, nor is there censorship or blackmail to intimidate governments ruled by self-interest.

Let this meeting radiate the pure light of the human spirit that can never be dimmed or contained. Our path to the future must be based on the redemption of history and the past, free of the shackles of inherited inequities. Our legacy to the future must be based on the rectification of the painful legacies of the past.

  • Note the use of cliches and stereotypes.
  • Highlight them.
    • For example:
      There is only oppressor and oppressed here.
    • What does this appeal really mean? What is the technique? Don't be side-tracked by the wording.
  • What was the essence of Israel's appeal to reject the Arab and Muslim League's call for this concluding resolution?
  • Make a short statement about perverting the important purpose of this conference.




  • A classic cliche in autocratic brainwashing.
  • Think of other examples! (Goebbels, Nurenberg Marches, Communist regimes).
  • Film excerpts for discussion:
    • "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" scene in "Cabaret";
    • Testimony of a Hitler Youth member...


Sisters and brothers, Never before has an occupation army imposed such a total and suffocating siege on a captive civilian population, then proceeded to shell their homes, bomb their infrastructure, assassinate their activists and leaders, destroy their crops and trees, murder their civilians at will, steal their lands, and then demand that they acquiesce like lambs to the slaughter. Never before have the victims been denied the right to articulate, and gain recognition for, the horrendous atrocities being committed against them as a matter of policy, but were rather blamed and punished for the fact of their victimization.

On behalf of the Palestinian people I appeal to you to have the courage to intervene, to ensure that the oppressor is held accountable and the victim is protected [...]

What allegations are being made?
  • List resources to show that they are misleading or untrue.
  • Produce effective sound byte points about what the PA has been doing - and provide substantiation.
    • For example: their "horrendous atrocities" and "leading lambs to the slaughter".
    • What "leaders" were killed? What was their role?
    • Does the average Palestinian have the "right to articulate" opposition to what has been going on?




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15 Mar 2007 / 25 Adar II 5767 0