Al-Haq welcomes the release of the Institute for Palestine Studies’ new report “Persecution of Palestinian Civil Society: Epistemic Violence, Silencing, and the Apartheid Framework” by authors Rania Muhareb, Elizabeth Rghebi, Dr Susan Power and Pearce Clancy. The Report examines the threat Palestinian civil society faces following Israel’s move to suppress civil society organisations through the use of harassment, arbitrary detention, raids on civil society offices and the false designation of six Palestinian civil society organisations: Al-Haq; Addameer, Defence for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees (UPWC) and the Bisan Center for Research and Development, as “terror organisations” in October of 2021.
The comprehensive report identifies how suppressing civil society is part of Israel’s systematic attack of silencing Palestinian voices that oppose Israel’s apartheid regime, highlighting how the suppression of civil society constitutes an epistemic attack on Palestininian knowledge and is part of the wider attempt to stifle, discredit and silence Palestinian voices. The authors detail how the Palestinian people internationally have been portrayed as unreliable narrators of their own experience, both historically and contemporarily, despite meticulous documentation and dedicated advocacy by many Palestinian civil society organisations and activists for decades, and how such a dismissal of Palestinian knowledge supports continued Zionist settler colonialism as well as Israel’s apartheid regime.
The report also discusses how Israel’s weaponisation of “terrorist” designations against civil society organisations is part of the epistemic violence against Palestinians, in this case being used to delegitimise Palestinian human rights work and frustrate engagement with the international community. There is also an in depth exploration of the how the attacks against civil society fit within the wider context and are part of the Israel’s enforcement of its apartheid regime. The report notes how the attacks against civil society have intensified in hand with efforts to bring international legal accountability for Israel’s violations, and also indicates how Israel’s persecution of civil society organisations violate Article 2(f) of the Apartheid Convention and form part of the apartheid regime.
The report is an excellent and timely study that highlights the fundamental importance of supporting Palestinian civil society organisations in the face of Israel’s arbitrary assault on human rights organisations, and emphasises how the attacks on civil society “entrenches the epistemic violence and erasure of decades of Palestinian knowledge production on Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism as the root causes of Israel’s institutionalized oppression.”
Read the full report here.