Nobel peace laureates call for military embargo on Israel

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This is a powerful statement, issued by 52 persons of international standing, including Nobel Peace laureates Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Perez Esquível, former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters, Directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker, international best-seller Naomi Klein and co-drafter of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Holocaust survivor Stéphane Hessel. The full list of signatories is below the statement.

Stéphane Hessel

Stéphane Hessel – co-drafter of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Holocaust survivor

Now is the time for a military embargo on Israel!

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”  – Nelson Mandela

Horrified at the latest round of Israeli aggression against the 1.5 million Palestinians in the besieged and occupied Gaza Strip and conscious of the impunity that has enabled this new chapter in Israel’s decades-old violations of international law and Palestinian rights, we believe there is an urgent need for international action towards a mandatory, comprehensive military embargo against Israel. Such a measure has been subject to several UN resolutions [1] and is similar to the arms embargo imposed against apartheid South Africa in the past.

Israel’s unchecked belligerence and persistent denial of basic human rights and self-determination to the Palestinian people call for a concerted effort by international civil society to force world governments to end the links of complicity. This impunity has allowed Israel to continue its occupation, colonization and denial of Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned rights.

While the United States has been the largest sponsor of Israel, supplying billions of dollars of advanced military hardware every year, the role of the European Union must not go unnoticed, in particular its hefty subsidies to Israel’s military complex through its research programs. Similarly, the growing military ties between Israel and the emerging economies of Brazil, India and South Korea are unconscionable given their nominal support for Palestinian freedom.

Military ties with Israel have fueled relentless acts of aggression. Israel continues to entrench its subjugation of Palestinians while provoking or initiating armed conflict with its neighbors in the region.

Israel’s attempt to justify this kind of illegal use of belligerent and disproportionate military force as “self-defence” does not stand up to legal — or moral — scrutiny, as states cannot invoke self-defence for acts that serve to defend an unlawful situation which they have created in the first place [2].

We therefore support the call from Palestinian civil society for an urgent and comprehensive military embargo on Israel as an effective, non-violent measure to stop Israel’s wars and repression and to bring about Israel’s compliance with its obligations under international law. This is now a moral and legal imperative to achieve a just and comprehensive peace


[1] See, for example UN General Assembly Resolution 3414 (1975): “[the UNGA] Requests all states to desist from supplying Israel with any military or economic aid as long as it continues to occupy Arab territories and deny the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people”.….UKEIxYdyGSo

[2] According to the basic tenet of international law, ex injuria non oritur ius (a legal right or entitlement cannot arise from an unlawful act )…


Initial List of Signatories (alphabetical order):

Udi Aloni, filmmaker, Israel

Anthony Arnove, editor and writer, US

Etienne Balibar, academic, France

Robert Ballagh, artist and president of the Ireland Institute for Historical and Cultural Studies, Ireland

Walden Bello, academic, author and member of Senate, Philippines

Shyam Benegal, director and screenwriter, India

John Berger, author, critic, UK

Howard Brenton, playwright and screenwriter, UK

Judith Butler, academic, United States

Clayborne Carson, Director, Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute, Stanford University, USA

Noam Chomsky, academic, USA

Caryl Churchill, dramatist, UK

Angela Davis, scholar and author, US

Raymond Deane, composer, Ireland

Danilo Dolci, sociologist, Italy

John Dugard, professor of international law, South Africa

Felim Egan, artist, Ireland

Adolfo Perez Esquível, Nobel Peace Laureate 1980, Argentina

Dror Feiler, musician and artist, Sweden

Don Andrea Gallo, presbyter, Italy

Charles Glass, journalist, US

Margherita Hack, astrophysicist, Italy

Denis J. Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary-General (1994-98), Ireland

Stéphane Hessel, diplomat, Holocaust survivor and co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, France

Tor B Jørgensen, Bishop, Norway

Christian Juhl, member of Parliament, Denmark

Ronnie Kasrils, politician, South Africa

Aki Kaurismäki, screenwriter and film director, Finland

Marcel Khalife, musician, Lebanon

Naomi Klein, writer and activist, Canada

Paul Laverty, filmmaker, UK

Taeho Lee, Secretary General, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, South Korea

Ken Loach, filmmaker, UK

Vibeke Løkkeberg, actress and director, Norway

Mike Leigh OBE, Director, UK (Palm D’Or 1996)

Jean-Marc Levy-Leblond, academic, France

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate 1976, Ireland

Michael Mansfield, lawyer, UK

Miriam Margolyes, actress, UK

Cynthia McKinney, politician, United States

Saeed Mirza, filmmaker, India

Luisa Morgantini, former president of the European Parliament

Bjørnar Moxnes, member of Oslo city council

Suzanne Osten, writer and director, Sweden

Nurit Peled, professor of language, Israel

John Pilger, journalist, author, filmmaker, Australia

Ahdaf Soueif, writer, Egypt/UK

Alice Walker, author, US

Roger Waters, musician, UK

John Williams, musician, UK

Vincenzo Vita, senator, Italy

Slavoj Zizek, philosopher, Slovenia

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