Swiss activists stop international conference featuring official from Apartheid Israel
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Swiss activists stop international conference featuring official from Apartheid Israel

As part of the campaign to isolate Apartheid Israel, Swiss activists have successfully stopped the “First International Convention on Public Security” from taking place on the 29th of June in Paudex. They staged protests and lobbied against the conference after learning that the event featured amongst the speakers Dani Arditi, ex-general of the Occupation Army and current head of the “Counter Terrorism Bureau” of the National Security Council.

As if to highlight the continuity of complicit politics with Apartheid, among the scheduled invitees was Peter Rgli, ex-head of the Swiss military information services, and once responsible for military cooperation with Apartheid South Africa.

Among the organizers of the event featured RUAG Aerospace, a Swiss state owned enterprise that produces drones in cooperation with the Occupation Air forces. The conference was organized by a private consortium and was to be financed with 30 000 SFR from tax money via the regional government.

The activists denounced the event and its speakers and highlighted how the conference promoted – under the disguise of “counter terrorism” – collaboration with Israeli policies of land theft, colonization, killings and the ghettoization of the Palestinian people.

They further highlighted how the “invitation of the head of Israeli “antiterrorism” was to take place in the context of “normalization” of the relations between Switzerland and Israel, as announced by the Federal Councillor Samuel Schmid in Spring 2005. This normalization has enabled a large-scale start resumption of military cooperation with Israel, in particular:
• The buying of Israeli military material worth 150 million SFR as part of an arms programme approved in October 2005.
• The visit, in November 2005, to Israel of a Swiss military delegation, organized by the divisionary Jakob Baumann, in preparation of other acquisitions.
• The visit, in May 2006, to Switzerland of an Israeli Air force delegation, led by the commander in chief, Eliezer Shkedi.

The demands of the activists had been clear:
• Boycott this convention
• Protest with the organizers against the invitation of Dani Arditi
• End all military, scientific and other cooperation with the state of Israel, its army and all enterprises and institutions that are accomplices of the Occupation as long as Israel fails to comply with all requirements of international law and also recognize Palestinian rights.

The Swiss activists have opposed all recent developments of complicity with the crimes of the Occupation, and have addressed media and the organizers and donors of this conference. Protests were scheduled to take place in front of the conference venue before it was cancelled. What was supposed to be a low profile event to strengthen relations between Switzerland and the Occupation became an issue of public discussion. The unwanted publicity forced the organizers to renounce the event, marking a victory for the hard work and dedication of Swiss activists in their campaign to rid their country of its complicity with the Occupation.