On its second day, WHO conference was relocated to Tel-Aviv in an attempt to legitimize it
Press Release
Tel-Aviv, December 1st, 2011
Boycott from Within is pleased to note that the WHO (World Health Organization) chose to relocate its 'Health 2020 – The New European Policy for Health' international conference[1] during its second day, due to protest and heavy criticism it received and at a great financial and logistical cost. The international conference taking place in Israel is in breach of the Palestinian call for BDS[2]. As long as Israel maintains its criminal policies of colonialism, occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people and denies their rights, holding such a conference by the WHO necessarily sends a green light to these continued and systematic violations and should therefore be opposed, whether it is held in West Jerusalem or in Tel-Aviv.
Even though Israel is not part of Europe, several Israeli officials were invited to take part in preparation and participation in the conference, and some of them gave keynote speeches including Deputy Minister of Health, Ya’acov Litzman, who is the acting Minister of Health. While the Israeli government regards the conference as yet another platform for Israeli propaganda (“Hasbara”) in its effort to portray a false image of Israel as a liberal democracy, it is distressing that the WHO has chosen to take an active role in whitewashing Israeli crimes.
Earlier this week, in Palestine and around the world, much criticism was expressed around this issue. A demonstration was held in besieged Gaza and a sit-in in Ramallah, as many critical letters have been sent to the WHO offices from all over the world. Israeli activists in support of the Palestinian call for BDS held a direct action during the opening of the conference, at its original venue in West Jerusalem.
The conference delegates encountered activists who had been bound and gagged as Palestinian detainees. Israeli physicians are often complicit in the torture and ill-treatment of such detainees, as reported recently by Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHR) and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)[3]. The activists also handed information kits with facts about Israeli apartheid, information on the complicity of Israeli health officials and the letters of criticism that had been sent to WHO organizers prior to the event. The activists held a large banner reading: "WHO is blind to apartheid".
Photos and videos are available upon request.
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