Yesterday, the New Orleans City Council rescinded a universal human rights resolution, R-18-5, under intense pressure from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans (JFGNO), simply because the resolution was introduced by a Palestine solidarity group which framed the resolution as a victory for Palestinian rights within the broader scope of human rights.
On January 11, the New Orleans City Council had voted unanimously in favor of R-18-5, which calls for a process to avoid contracting with or investing in companies that profit from abuses of human rights, civil rights, labor rights, and other violations. The resolution came out of a year-long campaign led by the New Orleans Palestine Solidarity Committee (NOPSC) and carried forward by 20 organizations from across the spectrum of the city’s diverse communities.
In the public hearing on January 25 and in stark contrast to their original support for universal human rights, the City Council refused to allow the majority of the human rights supporters into the hearing room, and limited comments to 15 minutes for and against, in contrast to the normal proceedings which allow each individual six minutes to speak and in spite of the fact that supporters of the resolution outnumbered opponents by 5 to 1.
The rescinding of R-18-5 is a massive blow to the many communities in New Orleans that would have benefited from the resolution, and that stood by NOPSC in its introduction. The importance of this resolution cannot be overstated. Resolution R-18-5 called on the city to allocate its investments according its values: inclusivity, support for local industry, equity, non-discrimination and protection of the environment. As it stands, the position that the city council took by backing down from this resolution is that Palestinian rights are not human rights, and that the participation of Palestinians in the political process is cause for concern and censure.
The City Council also ignored the support for the universal human rights resolution expressed by a diverse range of organizations including Amnesty International USA, the Dream Defenders, Center for Constitutional Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council, and the US Human Rights Network.
“While it is shameful that the NOLA city council decided to reverse a resolution supporting human rights for all people, the process through which this took place has been clarifying for the many different groups working in a diverse coalition to advance accountability for human rights abusers. We’ve learned that certain groups, in the aim of helping Israel evade any accountability, are willing to derail human rights accountability for any and all, demonstrating precisely how far they are willing to go to provide Israel with impunity. This is exactly why campaigns to hold Israel accountable are so necessary, and why so many communities around the country and world are connecting the dots between Israeli apartheid and US oppression to join together in campaigns for human rights for all,” said US Campaign for Palestinian Rights Executive Director Yousef Munayyer.
The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) is a national coalition of hundreds of groups working together for freedom, justice and equality. Founded in 2001 as the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, USCPR has been a leading player in the movement for Palestinian rights in the United States. The coalition is bound by commonly shared principles on Palestine solidarity as well as anti-racism principles.