I was pleased to wake up to the news this morning that rather than backing down on his criticism of Israel over its settlements and its oppression of Palestinians, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has reiterated it in a New York Times op-ed. Refusing to participate in the Israeli shell game whereby resistance is recast as the cause rather than the effect of Israel’s tightening military fist and its frenzy of colonial settlement building, Ban calls Palestinian resistance a normal response to occupation. How blessedly straightforward.

Admittedly, he’s got nothing to lose given Israel’s declared contempt for the UN (along with international human rights organisations, Israeli leftists, the Swedish Foreign Minister, the Brazilian government, Pope Francis, Israeli NGOs, Israeli whistleblowers et al.). And that’s on top of the fact that Makarim Wibisono, Ban’s own Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories, quit after being denied entry to the OPT since he took up his post in 2014. Also, I was irritated to note the word ‘view’ trotted out to describe the agreement of the international community that Israel’s settlement activity is in fact ‘illegal’. Its legality – or not – is a matter of fact, not opinion, and this fact is well established by now.

Still, it’s good to see a high-profile public figure sticking to his guns in the face of the usual smears and contortions. And in the aftermath of Human Rights Watch’s call for sanctions against Israel over the settlements, Ban’s tenacity contributes to the momentum that might force change from without, since it clearly ain’t coming from within.

As a Canadian, I feel especially pleased by Ban’s tenacity in light of the bullying assault on York University by donor Paul Bronfman over a mural depicting a Palestinian stone thrower facing an Israeli bulldozer as it approaches an olive tree. Bronfman, a Canadian media mogul whose cousin Stephen is the Chief Fundraiser of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party of Canada, called the image ‘anti-Semitic’ and withdrew support for the university after it refused to take down the mural.

Here’s an excerpt of the piece which comes from Lebanon’s Daily Star:

In the piece entitled, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel,” Ban reiterates many of his earlier comments to Security Council Tuesday, calling Israeli settlement activity “an affront to the Palestinian people,” adding that “it is human nature to resist occupation.” He also called for a freeze on settlement activity, which most of the international community views Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal or illegitimate.

The rest is here: Ban doubles down on Israel comments in NY Times

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