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A Scottish University's contribution to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine

'Aharon Barak developed a "legal" framework for Israel's illegal occupation that justified massive human rights abuses, including the firing of live rounds at unarmed demonstrators as a "legitimate response to security threats", even though this behaviour would be criminal under the Scottish, British and European legal codes. Barak also handed down judgements that allowed torture of Palestinians (torture of Jews is unthinkable), extrajudicial executions of Palestinians by the Israeli "civil authority", land confiscations and home demolitions. Tomkins' collaboration with such Israeli legal scholars as Barak is an attempt to normalise a legal system that buttresses an illegal occupation, and an apartheid social and political system.'

Mick Napier
Edinburgh 30th July 2013

Aharon Barak, a former President of Israel's Supreme court, handed down a ruling in 1988 that has facilitated the expulsion of Palestinians from Jerusalem, including those who have lived there since before the founding of the State of Israel and before the arrival of most of the current Israeli Ministers to Palestine. Subsequent Supreme Court decisions have built on Barak's precedent and the Israeli authorities have just issued new residency permits to Palestinians living in Jerusalem that are valid only for a ten-year period. This comes in the middle of an intensified wave of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Israel, both Palestinians under military occupation and Palestinian citizens of Israel, including victims of the Prawer Plan.

Aharon Barak built the legal defence for Iraeli crimesAharon Barak built the legal defence for Iraeli crimesThe implications of the ten year limited validity are obvious; Israel never misses a trick in its efforts to expel as many Palestinians as possible from Jerusalem and the move has intensified the insecurity that is part and parcel of being a Palestinian in a state that claims to represent all the Jews of the world.

One key aspect of the process of changing the ethnic composition of Jerusalem and all of Palestine is that it is carried out under legal cover, for reasons of Israel's democratic self-image and to conceal the brutal reality from others. This process is full of paradoxes, as the military enforcing an occupation deemed illegal by virtually every country in the world go through the motions of legality in carrying out population transfers illegal under the Geneva Convention.  Israeli law boasts weird categories such as "present absentees", just as its South African apartheid counterpart dealt in legal concepts such as "foreign natives".

None of these juridical or ethical considerations deters Glasgow University Law Professor Adam Tomkins from building what he hopes will be "a lifelong series of collaborations with colleagues at the Hebrew University" in Israel. They did not deter Tomkins from taking part in a workshop in May 2011 with Aharon Barak and speaking to the topic of Israeli "Legitimate Responses to Security Threats". Tomkins hopes his efforts will lead to "links between Glasgow Law School and legal scholars in Israel [being] strengthened."

Aharon Barak developed a "legal" framework for Israel's illegal occupation that justified massive human rights abuses, including the firing of live rounds at unarmed demonstrators as a "legitimate response to security threats", even though this behaviour would be criminal under the Scottish, British and European legal codes. Barak also handed down judgements that allowed torture of Palestinians (torture of Jews is unthinkable), extrajudicial executions of Palestinians by the Israeli "civil authority", land confiscations and home demolitions. Tomkins' collaboration with such Israeli legal scholars as Barak is an attempt to normalise a legal system that buttresses an illegal occupation, and an apartheid social and political system.

Tomkin links Glasgow University to ethnic cleansing and apartheidTomkin links Glasgow University to ethnic cleansing and apartheidHow else should we characterise the Israeli legal system in the West Bank as other than apartheid when Israeli occupation law as developed by Barak and his colleagues regards Jews as developmentally retarded compared to Palestinians? Subject to separate but unequal legal codes, Jewish settlers are categorised as minors until they reach the age of 18, whereas Palestinians in adjoining villages lose that status at 16 and are taken before adult criminal courts.

Barak "legalised" collective punishment that is illegal under international law as well as imprisonment without trial (administrative detention, internment). The apartheid wall the International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 to be "contrary to international law", i.e. a crime, was "legalised" by Barak.

One reason the current farce of 'peace talks' between Israel and the PA will lead nowhere is that the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is being ramped up across the entire area that the Israeli State controls, whether that control is military or civilian, inside or outside the Green Line. All Palestinians are part of the 'demographic threat' to the Jewish majority which the Zionist State openly discusses and deals with by house demolitions, expulsions, police and bureaucratic harassment, killing and mass imprisonment, walling in communities, dividing communities, economic warfare, forced family separation, ten-year jail sentences for Palestinians selling bagels without a permit, incessant humiliation and other means to put pressure on Palestinians to leave Palestine to make way for Jewish immigrants.

While Tomkins works to establish links with the oppressors, Scots need to campaign to neutralise the harm he is doing and prevent the Law School of one of Scotland's major universities linking to the Israeli Stasi, appratchiks who work with the executive and military wings of the apartheid state to drive out people based only on their ethnicity.  We need to build institutional support for the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to permanent resident status in Jerusalem in the face of Israel's efforts to weaken and remove this right.

Britain started the whole dirty business; we have a special responsibility to take action.

Much of the basic information here was presented in a short piece in February 2010
Glasgow professor plans joint work with Israeli 'designer of regime of human rights abuses'

See also
Study Guide to Israeli Apartheid
Is Israel an Apartheid State?