New Internationalist

Palestine is no longer a dirty word

Palestine muralCan you guage an event’s success even before it starts?

That’s the question I have been asking myself since I landed in New York a few days ago.

I am here to organize, with many other comrades, and take part in, the 4th session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine that will take place on 6-7 October.

Since we arrived, things have got better and better… and better.

The huge, historic venue we rented for the event, the great hall at Cooper Union, where leader of the abolitionist movement Frederik Douglass gave his emancipation speech, sold out in a couple of weeks. More than 900 people from all over the globe will attend the session. In the last week, we have been flooded by emails from people, including some who are well known, asking us for tickets. We could have filled this venue twice over.

US activists are all saying in unison: ‘This is going to be huge. This is going to be an historic event, a milestone for Palestine solidarity in the US.’ The buzz around the tribunal is amazing. Even the mainstream press seems to have caught the bug. Time magazine, Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique, mainstream Swiss newspapers, The Nation, The Huffington Post, Democracy Now, Al Ahram, Al Jazeera English and the New York Times are all coming to cover the session.

On top of this, we now have personalities contacting us directly to be a witness of this event. World- renowned French philosopher Etienne Balibar will be in the room, Zwenlizima Vavi, one of the most respected and liked public figures in South Africa will also be there, Mariam Said, wife of late Palestinian Icon Edward Said will be present; US actor John Cusack told us he might pop in.

Deep down, I know that it is not going to stop. I have got this feeling that more and more people are going to join the struggle for justice that the Palestinians have been fighting for decades. Palestine is not a dirty word anymore and will soon be fashionable. Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Roger Waters, Ronnie Kasrils, Michael Mansfield, Stephane Hessel, Mairead Maguire, Cynthia McKinney, John Dugard, Miguel Angel Estrella and Dennis Banks, our jury members, will soon be joined by many more personalities.

Remaining silent will, in the short-term future, no longer be an option.

The ones that crossed the picket line and ignored the Palestinian call for boycott, will have their place in history and will also be remembered – for all the wrong reasons. People will always be there to remind them and ask them: ‘Hey, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Madonna, where were you in 2012, when Palestinians were suffering from apartheid, persecution, and colonialism?’

On Saturday 6 October, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, the people it represents and the hundreds of people that have made this possible, will write history. A people’s history.

By addressing the US and UN’s role in Palestine, the tribunal’s goal is to go back to the root of the conflict and help globalize the Palestine question.

Palestine is not a faraway conflict between Jews and Muslims. Palestine is about us, all of us. Palestine is about human civilization and what it represents. Palestine is about the world we are living in. Its history, its present and its future. Palestine is about Greece, Spain. The names are different but the struggle is the same. It is a struggle for justice, dignity, freedom, respect, humanity, love – and it is an exhilarating one.

The fact that close to a thousand people, from all walks of life, coming from all around the world are, for two full days, going to be together, hand in hand, to talk about one thing and one thing only, Palestine, is something that should be celebrated and remembered.

It is a victory in itself.

Frank Barat is the co-ordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine

Main image from Palestine Remembered via gnuckx under a CC Licence.
Slideshow image from 
Robin Iversen Rönnlund under a CC License.

Comments on Palestine is no longer a dirty word

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

  1. #1 falastinhabibi 05 Oct 12

    ’Palestine is not a dirty word anymore and will soon be fashionable.’

    none of my family wants to be ’fashionable’ (are we accessories, like our keffiyeh?) we just want the occupation to end and justice to be served for all palestinians, wherever they live.

  2. #2 Lealah 05 Oct 12

    This article gives me assurance that we are moving in the right direction
    On educated more people on what is occurring
    In Palestine. Thank you for organizing such a big event this weekend . Wish I could be there .

  3. #3 nahida 05 Oct 12


    PALESTINE, Not Just a Name!

  4. #4 zenobia pintroa 05 Oct 12

    The terrible plight of the Palestinian people is strongly understood by all the Puerto Ricans who refuse to have their dignity trampled by the United States military and the multinationals that the military defend. Puerto Rico has been used as a Petri dish for over a century. All the rights that the United States claims to honor are trampled in Puerto Rico on a daily basis. We, the Puerto Ricans of honor and integrity, denounce wholeheartedly the gross injustices that both the Palestinians and Puerto Ricans endure. Colonialism and Imperialism must end!

  5. #5 Ander 06 Oct 12

    Hey, hey, hey Sabina y Serrat ... ¿¿donde estábais vosotros en 2012 cuando el pueblo palestino estaba sufriendo el apartheid, la persecución y el colonialismo ??.

  6. #6 joe wade 06 Oct 12

    it is very hypocritical to have the likes of Dennis Banks as a judge, considering he and AIM leadership has used their pr machine to lie and deceive the world for years to bury truths no different than Isreal has used pr tactics of deception to evade justice.

    At the end of the day the AIM leadership and Peltier have lied to NDN country for 36 years that it was the feds who murdered Annie Mae, when in fact it was AIM members who kidnapped, interrogated and murdered Annie Mae. After three trials, two guilty pleas and the eyewitness testimony of over 23 witnesses proving that fact, AIM leadership and Peltier now support her murderers saying that the government made them murder Annie Mae?? Spending the last 16 years campaigning for my mother’s justice in a storm of BS lies and deception, has confirmed one very valuable lesson for me. The truth always prevails. ~ Denise Pictou Maloney ~ Aug 10, 2012

  7. #7 David Schachter 08 Oct 12

    I disagree with trying to stop bands from playing Israel.
    Music brings people together.

    Thanks for considering a different point of view.

  8. #9 Yufei 21 Sep 16

    This article gives me hope and brought me to tears. I didn't even learn about the suffering of Palestinians until reading John Pilger's book, Freedom Next Time. I will continue to care about the news on development of Palestine.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

About the author

Frank Barat is one of the co-ordinators of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. He also writes a blog at

Read more by Frank Barat

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Popular tags

All tags

New Internationalist Blogs

New Internationalist hosts several different blogs, from the Editor's Blog to the Majority World Blog, the Gaza Blog to the Books Blog

New Internationalist Blogs