Palestine & Israel: materials from the Russell Foundation archives


The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was ‘given’ by a foreign Power to another people for the creation of a new State. The result was that many hundreds of thousands of innocent people were made permanently homeless. With every new conflict their number have increased.

Bertrand Russell’s last public statement, 31 January 1970

Bertrand Russell’s last public statement, to an international conference of Parliamentarians meeting in Cairo, addressed the crisis in the Middle East. It was published in the second number of The Spokesman (see below), shortly after his death in 1970. This was not Russell’s first intervention on the region and the organisation he founded – the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation – continues his work.

Gaza and the Palestinians who live there are under siege. Their Palestinian neighbours in the Occupied West Bank are also harassed, besieged and imprisoned. War crimes against Gaza are openly and shamelessly prepared and carried out by Israel with the acquiescence of the US, British and other governments. Importantly, the United Nations and International Criminal Court have turned a spotlight on these crimes. What fate awaits the people of Gaza and the Palestinian people more widely? Will world opinion somehow prevent the very worst outcomes? Will these latest outrages somehow be written-off as ‘exceptional’?

In making these materials available, the Russell Foundation records more than five decades of active engagement on these issues; shows how the Palestinians have been subject to successive outrages; provides some historical background to the plight of Palestine and encourages debate and discussion on a more peaceful way ahead.

The London Bulletin

The first edition of the Russell Foundation’s London Bulletin (August, 1967) carried two statements from Bertrand Russell – Israel’s Aggression and Napalm Blitzkrieg – together with two longer documents: an analysis of the Middle East and a joint statement from Palestinian and Israeli organisations. Russell’s first statement is reproduced below. All materials can be read here.

Israel’s Aggression

Israel’s attack on Syria, which has continued despite universal demands for ceasefire and assurances by Israeli leaders that they intend to advance no further, should be condemned as aggression. In this policy, Israel has proceeded with the unstated approval of Western governments which desire the overthrow of the Syrian regime, because it challenges their customary exploitation of the resources of the Arab world. It is dishonourable for Western governments to call publicly for ceasefire but to remain silent about Israel’s continuing attacks.

Israeli spokesman have indicated that Israel will not automatically relinquish its newly captured territory, which is three times the size of Israel itself. This, too, is aggression in the Israeli pattern of earlier years: it seizes what it can and holds on until this becomes the “status quo”. Israel should respect ceasefire arrangements, cooperate with any agency which supervises them and recall all its troops within its borders.

The demands of the governments of the United States and of Britain for the unfettered flow of oil from Arab land are demands that the exploitation of these lands continue unhindered. The Arab world must be permitted to own and develop its own natural resources.

Those who rightly sympathize with Jewish victims of Hitler’s aggression in Europe should not equate Israel’s survival with its policy of territorial conquest. Aggression is unjustifiable, the more so when perpetrated by those who know its full meaning.

Bertrand Russell, June 12, 1967

The London Bulletin No. 8 (February/March 1969) carries an extensive dossier – The Arabs under attack – documenting the ‘Treatment of Prisoners and Torture’, ‘The Hidden Scars of Torture’, ‘First-hand documentation’ of events in the Occupied Territories and ‘Trials’ of Palestinian civilians in military courts. Download here.

Russell’s Last Statement

Bertrand Russell wrote his last statement – reproduced below – two days before his death on 2 February 1970. Two days later, Christopher Farley – Russell’s personal representative – delivered the statement to a meeting of Parliamentarians in Cairo. A pdf of the text is available here.

The latest phase of the undeclared war in the Middle East is based upon a profound miscalculation. The bombing raids deep into Egyptian territory will not persuade the civilian population to surrender, but will stiffen their resolve to resist. This is the lesson of all aerial bombardment. The Vietnamese who have endured years of American heavy bombing have responded not by capitulation but by shooting down more enemy aircraft. In 1940 my own fellow countrymen resisted Hitler’s bombing raids with an unprecedented unity and determination. For this reason, the present Israeli attacks will fail in their essential purpose, but at the same time they must be condemned vigorously throughout the world.

The development of the crisis in the Middle East is both dangerous and instructive. For over 20 years Israel has expanded by force of arms. After every stage in this expansion Israel has appealed to ‘reason’ and has suggested ‘negotiations’. This is the traditional role of the imperial power, because it wishes to consolidate with the least difficulty what it has taken already by violence. Every new conquest becomes the new basis of the proposed negotiations from strength, which ignores the injustice of the previous aggression. The aggression committed by Israel must be condemned, not only because no state has the right to annexe foreign territory, but because every expansion is also an experiment to discover how much more aggression the world will tolerate.

The refugees who surround Palestine in their hundreds of thousands were described recently by the Washington journalist I. F. Stone as ‘the moral millstone around the neck of world Jewry’. Many of the refugees are now well into the third decade of their precarious existence in temporary settlements. The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was ‘given’ by a foreign Power to another people for the creation of a new State. The result was that many hundreds of thousands of innocent people were made permanently homeless. With every new conflict their numbers have increased. How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty? It is abundantly clear that the refugees have every right to the homeland from which they were driven, and the denial of this right is at the heart of the continuing conflict. No people anywhere in the world would accept being expelled en masse from their own country; how can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate? A permanent just settlement of the refugees in their homelands is an essential ingredient of any genuine settlement in the Middle East.

We are frequently told that we must sympathise with Israel because of the suffering of the Jews in Europe at the hands of the Nazis. I see in this suggestion no reason to perpetuate any suffering. What Israel is doing today cannot be condoned, and to invoke the horrors of the past to justify those of the present is gross hypocrisy. Not only does Israel condemn a vast number of refugees to misery; not only are many Arabs under occupation condemned to military rule; but also Israel condemns the Arab nations only recently emerging from colonial status, to continuing impoverishment as military demands take precedence over national development.

All who want to see an end to bloodshed in the Middle East must ensure that any settlement does not contain the seeds of future conflict. Justice requires that the first step towards a settlement must be an Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied in June 1967. A new world campaign is needed to help bring justice to the long-suffering people of the Middle East.

Bertrand Russell, 31 January 1970

War or Peace in the Middle East?

Published by Spokesman in 1978, War or Peace in the Middle East analysed the dangerous impasse in the Middle East at the time with contributions from seven writers with unique knowledge and experience of the region. Noam Chomsky wrote on ‘The Drift Towards War and the Alternatives’, Lord Caradon (former British Ambassador to the UN) wrote on ‘The Gateway to Peace: A Palestinian State’, the French writer Claude Bourdet considered ‘Thinking Out the Dialectics of Peace’, Sa’id Hammami (PLO representative in London) wrote on ‘From Co-existence to Reconciliation’, Daniel Amit (Hebrew University in Jerusalem) considered ‘Israeli Politics and Peace in the Middle East’, William Blakemore (an American journalist) wrote on ‘Lebanon in the Levant Wars’, and Peggy Duff argued for ‘No More Blank Cheques: A Role for World Opinion’.

Peggy Duff’s introduction to this volume can be downloaded here. For more on Peggy Duff, see here.

The Lebanon War

In summer 1982, the first European Nuclear Disarmament (END) Convention meeting in Brussels decided to send a peace delegation to Lebanon, which Israel had recently invaded. The Israeli army was advancing northwards to Beirut, which was being bombed daily by the Israeli air force. There was great apprehension amongst tens of thousands of inhabitants of the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Later that summer, the PLO eventually left Beirut. The massacres of Palestinian civilians at the Sabra and Shatila camps followed soon after.  


In Northern Europe, and particularly in Britain, there has been far too little response to the dreadful war in the Lebanon. A network of powerful interests has always contrived to slow British reactions to atrocities which carry any hint of American approval, while a different lobby, set at an oblique angle to superpower direct influence, has commonly wanted to give the state of Israel the benefit of every possible, (and many a far from plausible) doubt.

However, in the 1982 offensive against West Beirut we have seen tragic confirmation of many of these old doubts, and the fearsome development of quite new certainties. It is clear that the continued repression of the Palestinian people will entail continued eruptions of protest and war, and continued threats to the precarious stability of the wider world.

Superpower involvement in the Near East is more than adequate to make it entirely thinkable that nuclear war could be triggered there. The new cruise missiles which are to be deployed in Comiso, in Sicily, all have a range which brings the Middle East into their field of fire. Alva Myrdal has repeatedly warned us of the danger that war in other parts of the world could “spill back” into Europe, and nowhere is this more evident than in this particular case.

For this reason it was appropriate that the END Convention in Brussels should resolve to establish links with the Israeli peace movement, and to send a mission to the front. Two reports from this mission, one from an Italian, and one from an Englishman, describe the work of this delegation. Two other reports from the Russell Foundation’s team (jointly sponsored by the International Union of Socialist Youth and the Spanish Movement for Peace, Democracy and Freedom) bring direct testimony from Beirut. Finally, this pamphlet offers the full magisterial text of Noam Chomsky, written at the beginning of hostilities, and offering us the light of sweet reason during a particularly dark moment.

Ken Coates, 1982

Download the full pamphlet here. Tony Simpson’s ‘Eyewitness in West Beirut’ can be read separately here.

Reason Not the Need

“This compilation of the testimonies of hundreds of victimes and eye-witnesses of Israel’s 1982 war against the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon is unique, well-documented and comprehensive. All aspects of this war are reviewed: the course of the hostilities; the wanton destruction of Palestinian refugee camps, Lebanese towns and villages; the barbaric bombardment of Beirut which caused the loss of tens of thousands of innocent lives; the illicit use of American weapons for aggression and devastation; Israel’s share of responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacre; the detention of civilians in violation of international conventions; and the legal aspects of the invasion under international law.” (Henry Catton)

Reason Not the Need was published by Spokesman in 1984. If you are interested in knowing more about this book, please get in touch.

Israel & Palestine

A significant section of ENDpapers Nine/The Spokesman 47 (Winter 1984-85) was given over to information collected for the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation on the violations of human rights in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Download here.

Occupation, repression, and war continue to be the story of the Palestinian people. The conflict in and around Israel continues unceasingly, and is undoubtedly the main risk we ourselves now face. General war, if it is to come, will be most likely to spill into the East West conflict from one or other of the several zones of confrontation which are scattered around the globe. First among these on any listing of prospective dangers is the Middle East, which has already repeatedly brought the major powers to the brink of war.

There has been a growing sense of this danger in Europe, and it has resulted in an ever more visible differentiation of policies within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Europeans do not perceive the alignments in the Middle East in the same black and white terms which are commonly applied from North America. Even so, the United States maintains an unremitting pressure on the whole zone, and regards hypertension as the only state which is propitious to its interests.

The European peace movements can only ignore this theatre of continual war at their very great peril. At their Third Convention in Perugia, there was a welcome increase in concern about the Middle East, and it is much to be hoped that the Fourth Convention in Amsterdam will see a further development of interest and relevant action. This Report on the conditions of life in the occupied territories gives part of the evidence which is needed by peace movements everywhere. Of course, war and repression do not always keep company. It can be argued that the dreadful massacres in Sabra and Shatila, by creating reaction and protest on a universal scale, actually saved the world from a widening of the Middle East war which might otherwise have seemed inevitable.

A civilised world should be capable of maintaining its peace without the need for human sacrifices. In the Lebanon we may measure the extent of our continuing barbarism.


Israeli Foreign Policy

Published by Spokesman in 1987, Jane Hunter’s Israeli Foreign Policy: South Africa and Central America examined Israeli relations with South Africa, Central America, and policies around nuclear proliferation. Hunter illuminated the political, economic and military links between Israel and apartheid South Africa, demonstrating how Israel’s role countered the isolation of South Africa. Israel’s aid to the repressive regimes of Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as Israel’s aid to the contras and participation in the arms-for-Iran scandal, are examined. Hunter concludes with a controversial discussion of how the US had used Israel as a proxy to do its “dirty work”. Contact the Russell Foundation for more information on this book. To view the contents page, click here.

From the pages of The Spokesman

The Spokesman is the journal of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. Launched by Bertrand Russell in 1970, the journal was edited by Ken Coates from that date until his death in 2010. Tony Simpson has edited the journal from 2010 and was joined by Tom Unterrainer in 2021. For more information or to subscribe, follow this link.

Peace Process’ Prospects, Noam Chomsky, The Spokesman 69 (2000) download

To have a sense of what is taking place, it is useful to back off a few steps and to look at the immediate events from a somewhat broader perspective.
Any discussion of what is called a ‘peace process’ – whether the one underway at Camp David or any other – should keep in mind the operative meaning of the phrase: by definition, the ‘peace process’ is whatever the US government happens to be pursuing.

Noam Chomsky

Restraint or Racism in Palestine?, Hanan Ashwari, The Spokesman 70 (2001) download

‘Blaming the victim’ has been the common resort of the guilty in rationalizing and distorting the horror of the crime itself.
Whether battered wives, abused children, or Palestinians long subjected to the brutality of the horrendous Israeli military occupation, the first (and last) resort of the cowardly is in maligning the victim, in accusing him/her/them of having brought about the deserved cruelty of the crime.

Hanan Ashwari

Eyeless in Gaza – The liberation of Alan Johnston and the imprisonment of Gaza, Usamah Hamden, Michael Ancram MP, Jonathan Lehrle, Mark Perry, The Spokesman 96 (2007) download

This is an edited transcript of a discussion with Hamas’s representative in Lebanon, which took place in Beirut on 19 June 2007.

‘Exterminate all the Brutes’: Gaza 2009, Noam Chomsky, The Spokesman 103 (2009) download

On Saturday 27 December 2008, the latest US-Israeli attack on helpless Palestinians was launched. The attack had been meticulously planned, for over six months according to the Israeli press. The planning had two components: military and propaganda. It was based on the lessons of Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which was considered to be poorly planned and badly advertised. We may, therefore, be fairly confident that most of what has been done and said was pre-planned and intended.

Noam Chomsky

Gaza and the Law, Richard Falk, The Spokesman 103 (2009) download

This statement focuses on the impact of Israel’s continuing Gaza military campaign, initiated on 27 December 2008, on the humanitarian situation confronting the 1.5 million Palestinians confined to the Gaza Strip. In accordance with the undertaking of the mandate, it confines its comments to issues associated with Israel’s obligations as occupying power to respect international humanitarian law, which refers mainly to the legal obligations contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which sets forth in some detail the legal duties of Israel as the occupying power. The essential obligations of international humanitarian law are also considered to be binding legal duties embedded in customary international law. This statement touches on issues of international human rights law, as well as the implications of severe and sustained violations of either international humanitarian law or international human rights law as raising issues of international criminal law. It is also necessary to assess the underlying Israeli security claims that the military incursion into Gaza was a ‘defensive’ operation consistent with international law and the United Nations Charter, and that no ‘humanitarian crisis’ existed making the scale and nature of the military force used allegedly ‘excessive’ and ‘disproportionate.’

Richard Falk

Israel’s War against Hamas: Rhetoric and Reality, Avi Shlaim, The Spokesman 103 (2009) download

Israel’s war on Gaza lasted 22 days and claimed the lives of over 1,200 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. The only way to make sense of this senseless war is through understanding the historical context. The State of Israel was established in May 1948 on the basis of a UN resolution. Nevertheless, it involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by ‘an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders’. I used to think that this judgment was too harsh, but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

Avi Shlaim

Steadfast before Goliath, Mustafa Barghouti, The Spokesman 103 (2009) download

When I am asked about Palestinian identity, one idea keeps coming to mind. I was told it would be translated into English as ‘steadfastness’. I looked up what a steadfast person would be like and the dictionary says, ‘One marked by firm determination or resolution – not shakeable – of firm convictions and strong resolve. A man of unbendable perseverance and unwavering loyalty’.

Mustada Barghouti

Unholy Land, Ken Coates, The Spokesman 103 (2009) download

The first King Herod was born in 73 BC and followed a military career, starting out as a general. We apparently owe it to Mark Antony that he, a non-Jew, was singled out by the Romans as the national leader of the Jews. It was the Roman Senate which made him King, and provided him with the military assistance to enable him to grasp the throne. His dependence on Rome was thereafter unquestioned, although Rome allowed him considerable leeway in the determination of domestic matters. But this flexibility was insufficient to assuage the suspicions of so many of the Jews that his rule was marked by outbursts of strong discontent, culminating in a period of naked repression and sheer terror.

Ken Coates

Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation Dossier No. 30, The Spokesman 103 (2009) download

Apartheid in Palestine, John Dugard, The Spokesman 104 (2009) download

The Palestinian territory is clearly occupied territory. There’s no question about this as far as the international community is concerned in respect to the West Bank. Israel has argued that, since 2005, when it withdrew its settlers and its military force from Gaza itself, that it has ceased to be an occupied territory. But the International Committee of the Red Cross and, I think, the whole of the international community, with the possible exception of the United States, reject this argument. They take the view that Gaza is effectively occupied by Israel because Israel has control of its land borders, its sea space, its air space and it conducts military incursions fairly regularly into the territory.

John Dugard

The Situation in Palestine, Richard Falk, The Spokesman 104 (2009) download

In the light of resolution S-9 adopted by the Human Rights Council at its ninth special session, the present report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 focuses on the main international law and human rights issues raised by Israel military operations commencing on 27 December 2008 and ending on 18 January 2009. He challenges the widespread emphasis on whether Israeli force was disproportionate in relation to Palestinian threats to Israeli security, and focuses on the prior question of whether Israeli force was legally justified at all. He concludes that such recourse to force was not legally justified given the circumstances and diplomatic alternatives available, and was potentially a crime against peace.

Richard Falk

Carnage in Gaza, Nurit Peled Elhanan, The Spokesman 108 (2010) download

We mark the first anniversary of the carnage in Gaza, and protest at the comfortable complacency which inhabitants of this city and this country exhibit before the slow annihilation that goes on and on in Gaza and throughout Palestine.
Had Israeli pre-school children been asked ‘what did you learn at school this year, dear little boy of mine?’, there are all kinds of answers that we might have received. An enlightened and critical child might have answered: I learned that the sun is still shining, and the almond tree is blooming, and the butcher butchers, and there is nobody to judge him.

Nurut Peled Elhanan

Apartheid in South Africa and Palestine?, John Dugard, The Spokesman 114 (2011) download

I spent most of my adult life in South Africa opposing apartheid, as an advocate, legal academic and, from 1978-1990, director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (a research institute engaged in human rights advocacy and litigation). In my work I compared and contrasted apartheid with international human rights standards and advocated a Constitution with a Bill of Rights in a democratic South Africa. Unlike many other South Africans, I was never imprisoned but I was prosecuted, arrested and threatened by the security police. My major book, Human Rights and the South African Legal Order (1978), the most comprehensive account of the law and practice of apartheid, was initially banned.

John Dugard

The Killing of Salem Khalil Shammaly, Testimony of Eran Efrati, The Spokesman 126 (2014) download

Shuja’iyya is a neighbourhood in the East of Gaza City, home to almost 100,000 residents. It is one of the most impoverished and densely populated neighbourhoods in Gaza. Between July 19th and 23rd, 2014, the height of the massacre in Shuja’iyya, it is estimated that between 90 and 120 Palestinians were killed and 400 more were injured. The dead included at least 22 children, 19 women and seven elderly Palestinians. 884 buildings were hit by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF); 604 were utterly destroyed. During operation ‘Defensive Edge’, the facilities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) were overflowing, so the Shuja’iyya residents fleeing the bombing could not find shelter.

Eran Efrati

What happened in Khuza’a, Testimony of Mohammed Omer, The Spokesman 126 (2014) download

My focus is generally on one of the most hard hit areas, Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. I was the first to get into Khuza’a during a ceasefire to find massive damage. My contribution focuses on three main cases.

Mohammed Omer

Gaza, John Daniels, The Spokesman 141 (2019) download

Norman Finkelstein’s Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom is a powerful call to intensify our campaign to bring about justice for the Palestinian people which has been denied them for so long. Noteworthy at this juncture is the rubric that has guided all the Russell Tribunals, to “prevent the crime of silence”, and this is a very apt dictum to describe the thrust of this book. During a lecture in February this year in Stockholm the author described his frustration about writing the book. With his usual openness and honesty, he admitted that at that time he was feeling very pessimistic about the situation regarding the Palestinians. Conscious that he was often criticised for “obsessing” about Palestine, and the situation was as bleak as ever, it was small wonder that he felt pretty low. Thankfully he did find the strength and determination to go on and he became convinced that he had a duty not only to the living, but also to the dead, to record their suffering.

John Daniels

A Palestinian Woman’s History, Hamda Iraqi, The Spokesman 149 (2021) download

Hamda is a Palestinian who was able to return following the Oslo Agreement. She now lives in Nablus after years of exile in a refugee camp in Lebanon with her family, who came from Nakhle al­Nusf, a district of Acre. She lived the various stages of the Palestinian struggle in the camp, firstly under the repressive fist of the Lebanese Deuxieme Bureau state security, then through the growth of the resistance movement, the long siege of the Palestinian camp of Tal al­Zaatar, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and the massacre of Sabra­Shatila. Her commitment to the revolution led her to train in electronics and communications and she became a colonel in Fatah’s wireless department. She was a member of the General Union of Palestinian Women and of Fatah.

Jehan Helou

Making Palestine’s History, Jehan Helou, The Spokesman 152 (2022) download

It is 40 years since the massacres in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, which took place over several days in September 1982. Those terrible crimes, committed by Lebanese Forces with Israeli complicity, have largely gone unpunished although not unnoticed. The memories endure, as Jehan Helou records in her landmark oral history now published in English under the title Making Palestine’s History: Women’s Testimonies. We include Jehan’s Preface to her groundbreaking book, as well as an excerpt about Sabra and Shatila from Hadla Ayoubi’s testimony. In addition, we republish Tony Simpson’s eyewitness account from Beirut, which he visited a few weeks before the massacres. Subsequent events were to prove far worse than he anticipated for many residents of Beirut.

Jehan Helou

Russell Tribunal on Palestine

In 2009, the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation supported the establishment of the independent Russell Tribunal on Palestine which took inspiration from Russell’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Vietnam assembled in the 1960s. More information on can be found here. The following text outlines the work of the Tribunal:

“May this Tribunal prevent the crime of silence“… declared Lord Bertrand Russell to define the spirit and the objective of the International War Crimes Tribunal constituted in 1966 to investigate crimes committed in Vietnam and judge them according to international law. Initiated by Lord Russell, Nobel Prize of literature in 1950, and supported by eminent intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre, who chaired the Tribunal, Lelio Basso, Guenther Anders, James Baldwin, Simone de Beauvoir, Lazaro Cardenas, Stokely Carmichael, Isaac Deutscher, Gisèle Halimi, Laurent Schwartz…, this Tribunal was named the Russell Tribunal.

The Russell Tribunal has no legal status but acts as a court of the people, a Tribunal of conscience, faced with injustices and violations of international law, that are not dealt with by existing international jurisdictions, or that are recognised but continue with complete impunity due to the lack of political will of the international community. Today, and in the same spirit, the Bertrand Russell Foundation supports the setting up of a Russell Tribunal to examine the violations of international law, of which the Palestinians are victims, and that prevent the Palestinian People from exercising its rights to a sovereign State.

This Tribunal has been named the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. It will reaffirm the supremacy of international law as the basis for a solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. It will identify all the failings in the implementation of this right and will condemn all the parties responsible for these failings, in full view of international public opinion.

It will thus examine the various responsibilities that lead to the continued occupation of the Palestinian Territories by Israel and the non-application of the United Nations resolutions, from Resolution 181 of the 29th of November 1947, on the partition of Palestine, to Resolution ES-10/15 of the 20th of July 2004, that acknowledges the Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – of the 9th of July 2004 – on the construction of the Wall by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and requests all the UN Member States to acquit themselves of their legal obligations as defined by the ICJ Opinion. The responsibilities of Israel and also of other states, particularly the United States and the Member States of the European Union, the Arab States and the international organisations concerned (United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League) will be scrutinised.

The Tribunal also aims, through this approach, to contribute to the mobilisation and the involvement of civil society in all the states concerned on the question of Palestine.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is composed of eminent people from all states, including Israel, which will be one of the states investigated. The legitimacy of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine does not come from a government or any political party but from the prestige, professional interests and commitment to fundamental rights of the Members that constitute this Tribunal.

The Spokesman journal carried regular reports and dossiers from the Tribunal, which can be found below.

Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation Dossier No. 28, The Spokesman 96 (2007) download

We call for the creation of a Russell Tribunal on Palestine. This Tribunal will work rigorously and in the same spirit as the Tribunal on Vietnam that sat in 1967, under the presidency of Jean-Paul Sartre. The Tribunal will have to judge the breaches of international law, of which the Palestinians are victims, and which deprive the Palestinian people of a sovereign State.


Until when?, Nurit Peled, The Spokesman 104 (2009) download

Nurit Peled-Elhanan teaches at the University of Tel Aviv. She is co-founder of Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Parents for Peace. Her daughter, Smadar Elhanan, was killed in a suicide bombing attack in Jerusalem in 1997. In 2001, Dr Peled was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Human Rights and Freedom of Speech by the European Parliament.

Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation Dossier No. 33, The Spokesman 108 (2010) download

The first session of The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) took place in Barcelona from 1 to 3 March 2010. It found European Union member states in breach of international and internal European Union law with respect to the protection of human rights of Palestinians. We will publish the session’s full findings in a special Spokesman pamphlet. Meanwhile, here is a preliminary report of proceedings.


The Russell Tribunal on Palestine: London Session, The Spokesman 111 (2011) download

The London Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine convened at the Law Society in London’s Chancery Lane on 20-21 November 2010. Its jury issued this public statement following the conclusion of the session which examined corporate complicity in Israeli violations of international law. The Findings of the London Session are available online.

Who Profits? The settlement industry and corporate involvement in the occupation, Dalit Baum, The Spokesman 111 (2011) download

Dr Baum was then Project Coordinator of ‘Who Profits from the Occupation’, and an activist in the Coalition of Women for Peace in Tel Aviv. She presented this paper to the London Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in November 2010.

Time for Justice, Stéphane Hessel, The Spokesman 120 (2013) download

Stéphane Hessel spent part of his diplomatic career with the United Nations where he was a privileged witness at the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He is the author of Indignez Vous!, translated as Time for Outrage!, his best-selling broadside against the deprivations of neoliberalism, which was published in 2010. Prior to that, he participated in the creation of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, and became its Honorary President, serving on its jury and attending all four sessions of the Tribunal, in Barcelona, London, Cape Town and New York. On 18 February 2013, he completed his Preface to a new book entitled Justice pour la Palestine!, shortly before his untimely death.

This Day Shall Come, Marwan Barghouti, The Spokesman 120 (2013) download

Marwan Barghouti is a Member of the Palestinian Parliament. As he explains in this open letter to the culminating session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, he has been imprisoned for 11 years since he was abducted in Ramallah.

More to come, Angela Davis, The Spokesman 120 (2013) download

Angela Davis had the task of charting the way forward, as the Russell Tribunal on Palestine drew to a close in Brussels. She emphasised the actions to come, commencing in impeccable French, learnt in Paris in the 1960s.

Gaza Under Attack, Russell Tribunal on Palestine, The Spokesman 126 (2014) download

An Extraordinary Session on Gaza of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine took place at the Albert Hall in Brussels, on 25 September 2014. This is the Tribunal’s preliminary summary of findings.

The world on notice, Ahdaf Soueif, The Spokesman 126 (2014) download

In 2007, Ahdaf Soueif founded Engaged Events, which organises the Palestine Festival of Literature in the cities of occupied Palestine and Gaza. Her bestselling novel, The Map of Love, has been translated into 30 languages. She writes for The Guardian and the Egyptian daily Al-Shorouk. This article is a transcription of her comments to the press following the Extraordinary Session on Gaza of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, held in Brussels in September 2014.

Preventing the Crime of Indifference, Richard Falk, The Spokesman 126 (2014) download

Richard Falk is an international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years. Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies, and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He was a juror at the Extraordinary Session on Gaza of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

Making Palestine’s History: Women’s Testimonies

Jehan Helou’s book ‘tells stories of women freedom fighters in their own words, stories untold except maybe to their families and in female circles, even though they are stories that helped determine the course of the Palestinian cause. Much more than novels or tales, these stories are closer to the experiences which must be used in new studies and analyses of the Palestinian Revolution and its stages, and for Palestinian history in general.’
Juheina Khaldieh, As Safir newspaper, Lebanon

The modern Palestinian woman saw women’s liberation as essential for her humanity and a prerequisite for national liberation victory. What factors enhanced or hindered this aspiration? No doubt there was a revolution in women’s situation in the 1970s – the beginning of real liberation, real social transformation with new revolutionary norms and values, compared to their situation only a few years previously. Women did not wait to be given their liberation; they grasped it by struggle and determination!

242 Pages | £14.99 | ISBN: 978 0 85124 9056 | BUY HERE

Israel and the Bomb

Israel’s Bomb: The First Victim, Ken Coates, reproduced in END Info 24, May/June 2021 download

This text was first published as a chapter in Israel’s Bomb: The First Victim – The Case of Mordechai Vanunu (Spokesman Books, 1988). The book includes an introduction and concluding chapter by Vanunu, along with material from The Sunday Times investigation into the case and further analysis. The book was published to aid the work of the International Campaign for Mordechai Vanunu, of which the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation was a supporting organisation.

Double standard policy, Tom Unterrainer, END Info 24, May/June 2021 link

‘I swear I believe Armageddon is near.’

So wrote US President Ronald Reagan in his diary on the evening on June 7, 1981. What prompted this private proclamation of doom? Earlier that day, fourteen US-built F-16 aircraft flew from their base in the Negev dessert. These Israeli military jets made their way at low level across Jordanian and Saudi Arabian airspace, before reaching their target: the Osirak nuclear reactor, located just 10 kilometres southwest of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. The jets dropped bombs which destroyed Iraq’s fledgling nuclear energy programme.

Tom Unterrainer

A nuclear-armed state versus the Palestinian people, Tom Unterrainer, END Info 24, May/June 2021 link

The most recent Israeli assault on the Palestinian people looks like an all-too-familiar and all-too-tragic event. Every few years the gross ‘normality’ of the protracted oppression of the Palestinian people is punctured by an intense assault at the hands of the Israeli military. Every few years the State of Israel pushes at the boundaries of what has previously been accepted by the international community and demands more. It deploys a highly organised, heavily equipped military and demands one bit more: more Palestinian territory, more Palestinian lives, more traumatised children, more concessions from world opinion.

Tom Unterrainer


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