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Israel asked to stop its abuse of Christianity, Judaism and Islam

We all need to face the stark truth: We must choose for humanity, or against it.

In a strongly worded article, Rev Edwin Arrison, general secretary of Kairos Southern Africa and also Chair of South Africa’s National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) asks Israel to not abuse religion in their colonial project of oppressing the Palestinians. Accept the Palestinians as your equals, he asks, for we are all human.

He also says that we should not count on politicians to bring about positive change.

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Rev Arrison is pictured here (on the left) with Nobel Laureate, retired Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu and others #March4Gaza on 9 August 2014.

Here is Arrison’s article as published in the Sunday Tribune, 15 November 2015:

Since 2009, when Christians gathered in Bethlehem to launch the Palestine Kairos document, there has been a great deal of reflection going on in the Church, from small congregations to global Church bodies, to consider what the best way is to respond to the injustices meted out by the State of Israel to all our Palestinian sisters and brothers – including those in refugee camps and in the Diaspora. A great injustice has been, and continues to be perpetrated against them, making them effectively stateless, and Christians can never be silent about injustice, even if we take our time to reflect and make decisions.

There was a time when Israel could depend on support from most Christians across the world, but that time has passed. The Vatican – representing more than a billion Christians – has taken the small step to recognize the State of Palestine. The recent proclamation of two Arab Palestinians as saints is also a profound way of expressing respect for the dignity and humanity of the Palestinian people.

Many Christians within the Evangelical and Pentecostal arms of the Church, have begun to express grave doubt about their support for the Zionist project called Israel. They are beginning to distinguish between Biblical Israel and Zionist Israel.

Even German Christians, who have lived with the guilt of the Holocaust over them, are even beginning to rethink their support for the Zionist State of Israel and for Zionist Christianity. Christians everywhere are thinking very carefully about whether they will continue to buy into a narrative of some exceptional tribe of God or whether they will continue to stand firm in their faith, rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures, that ALL human beings have been created in the image of God and that God is not a tribal God, but God of ALL people. These are quite fundamental choices against the abuse of faith that, once made, can never be reversed, not even by millions of dollars of Israeli propaganda.

We know that there is much injustice in all parts of the world today, but there is only one that gets justified from a misuse of the Bible, and that is the current State of Israel. Serious students and teachers of the Bible have begun to say that the Zionist State of Israel cannot possibly justify its occupation of Palestinian land, leading to oppression of Palestinian people, from the Biblical text.

This old apartheid myth that one group is apparently more important in the eyes of God than another group is today again playing itself out in Palestine and the Zionist State of Israel. Only this time it is worse. In the 1980s the “Communist Threat” was used as justification, this time the “Muslim” is used as a substitute for “terrorist’ and thereby a whole religion and its adherents are being demonized and abused. If parts of the Christian Church were drawn to this for a while, it has now begun to see this tactic for what it is – an evil wedge that is being used to create permanent war to feed a military industrial complex.

Unfortunately for the Zionists, the truth is like the Holy Spirit: it finds a way of seeping through and setting people free from all evil and deception.

The Christian and Muslim faith should not be abused for Zionist colonial propaganda, and neither should the Jewish faith be abused in this way. Many Jews are saying that Judaism and Zionism should not be equated. By equating these two things, anti-Semitism gets fed and for the sake of all humanity, this link must be broken. This can only happen if today we declare Zionist Israel to be a pariah and use every non-violent means to call on Israeli’s to come to their senses. They will not, of course, do this without economic and social pressure from the outside world.

We should not believe that politicians will bring change as we will either be forgetting our own history, or we are being completely naïve or use this belief as a way to either do nothing or to delay things as long as possible. In the 1980s, when South Africans realised that Thatcher, Reagan and Kohl and also some church bodies were not prepared to take a clear stand against apartheid, we appealed to the humanity of citizens worldwide. German church women then took a stand to boycott South African goods despite the fact that their Bishops cut their budget. Across the world, men, women and children not only affirmed the humanity of black South Africans but also gave the Dutch Reformed Church an ultimatum: either you accept that all people are created in the image of God or we will no longer accept you at the Communion Table.

The time has now come for a similar message to go directly to the citizens of the State of Israel and all its supporters across the world: either you stop your abuse of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths, and accept that Palestinians are your equals or you will no longer be welcome at the table of humanity.

The choice has to be as simple and stark as that.

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The Woolworths Brand Disaster concerns all WW shareholders

Brands and share value are, to a large extent, based on sentiment and perceptions.

In this case, whether the issue is about a few pretzels and pomegranates as some argue, or about people who are killed, robbed, tortured and oppressed as others argue, is not the only issue. The Woolworths arrogance is now pushing the #BoycottWoolworths campaign to the main stream media – a disaster for the Woolworths brand.

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Listen here what happened at the Woolworths Annual General Meeting:

Interview on SABC newsroom on #BoycottWoolworths

Woolworths declined SABC’s invitation to participate in this and in other media discussions.

It is alarming that Woolworths refused to meet with BDS before a court ordered them to do so. Moreover, their arrogant refusal to talk about their ethical stance at the AGM for shareholders express their disregard of consumer and shareholder needs.

indexSimon Susman, Chair of the WHL Board

As shareholders we thought the Woolworths campaign is about a just freedom for Palestinians. But now it seems as if the matter is also about corporate governance!

All shareholders, those who fight for pretzels and pomegranates from Israel as well as those fighting for Palestinian rights should expect Woolworths to resolve the matter with BDS and to uphold the kind of ethos they say they stand for.

 

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Woolworths Chair lies to shareholders in Annual General Meeting

“Our eggs are best enjoyed on a slice of ethics” says Woolworths.

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When shareholders challenged the Woolworths Board on their ethics in respect of Israeli trade relations, the board members avoided clear answers. When I asked Simon Susman, Non-executive Director and Chairman to explain the Woolworths difference between ethics and the law, he refused to comment. Instead Tom Boardman, another director, used a lot of words without answering the question.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis picture is from the Woolworths Holdings Limited/ 2014 Integrated Report prepared for their annual general meeting with shareholders.

When we asked Chris Nissen, Chairman of the Social and Ethics Committee to explain the Woolworths ethics, he said an external company screened their service providers and he refused any further comment. We posed questions to Zarina Bassa and Sam Ngumeni from the risk and compliance committee, they too refused to answer.

Non-executive Director and Chairman Simon Susman acknowledged that the Woolworths brand is in question. At the start of the meeting, when he announced the agenda, he mentioned that they received a statement on the boycott from a shareholder. From that point onwards, the concern with trade relations with Israeli companies dominated the meeting. Lots of pertinent questions were asked and not answered. When shareholders insisted that the points should at least be minuted the Chair first consulted with his legal team to hear if it is in order to do so. They confirmed that it is in order. We hope the points were taken down.

Shortly before the Chair stopped the discussion I asked him how Woolworths engages with any shareholder statements they received. He assured me that there is a process in place and that they have already engaged with all those who sent statements. Mr Susman was not telling the truth when he said this. As you will see from the e-mails below, despite several requests to do so, no one has engaged with me on the statement I sent a week before the Annual General Meeting on 26 November 2014:

From: (name of official from my stock broker’s office)
Sent: 19 November 2014 02:34 PM
To: evelynbaiden-amissah@woolworths.co.za
Cc: Momberg, Marthie
Subject: Woolworths AGM

Dear Evelyn

As per our telecom, please see our client’s letter attached. I have also attached the client’s email with her concerns.

Could you please revert to Mrs Momberg, she is copied in this email.

Kind Regards

(name of official from my stock broker’s office)

 

From: Momberg, Marthie Sent: 21 November 2014 02:10 PM
To: (name of official from my stock broker’s office); evelynbaiden-amissah@woolworths.co.za
Cc: (name of stock broker)
Subject: RE: Woolworths AGM

Dear (name of official from my stockbroker’s office),

It is now four days since I asked:
1. Information on how the boycott against WW impact on their sales.
2. What the correct procedure is to raise an issue at the AGM.
You also forwarded them my statement as a shareholder.

Thank you for your help, but unfortunately I have not yet had any kind of response from Woolworths. Can you please follow up with them?

With kind regards,

MM

 

From: (name of official from my stock broker’s office)
Sent: Monday, 24 November 2014 09:21
To: Evelyn Baiden – Amissah
Cc:
Subject: RE: Woolworths AGM

Dear Evelyn

I tried calling and left a message.

Can you please urgently advise with regard to Mrs Momberg’s concern’s, please see an article that was placed in the newspaper.

Kind Regards

(name of official from my stockbroker’s office)

 

From: Evelyn Baiden – Amissah [mailto:EvelynBaiden-Amissah@woolworths.co.za]
Sent: 24 November 2014 05:13 PM
To: (name of official from my stockbroker’s office)
Cc:
Subject: RE: Woolworths AGM

Dear (name of official in my stockbroker’s office)

I confirm that I have received your email below as well as the voicemail you left in this regard.
I have forwarded the email on to the relevant people within our Company Secretarial department who will determine the appropriate action in line with protocols of engagement with shareholders.
The AGM will be held on Wednesday, 26 November from 10:00 – 12:00 at Woolworths House in Cape Town.

Kind regards

Evelyn

I don’t buy my eggs at Woolworths, and I don’t swallow their ethics.

Click here for a short YouTube clip on what happened outside the Woolworths headquarters while the shareholder meeting was underway. Note the excellent comment by Dr Clint le Bruyns.

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Edwin Arrison: Why I support #BoycottWoolworths

I feel as if I owe an explanation to many people about why I have decided to boycott Woolworths. This is a personal decision and is not something I can enforce on any other person, but I need to explain my decision and others can and must make their own decisions. If I have not convinced others through my arguments, then the responsibility lies with me and not with the other person.

What follows is a personal account from Rev Edwin Arrison who also serves as chairperson of South Africa’s National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P). He speaks from his heart and with the many years’ experience during the apartheid struggle years:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARev. Arrison featured with South Africa’s Muslim Judicial Council’s Secretary General Maulana Abdul Khaliq Allie (left) and the Ambassador of Palestine (right).

One thing that I hope all humanity wishes for AND works for, is to have a as-non-violent-as-possible resolution to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I do not think wishing for it is enough, and neither do I believe that non-violence is something only to be talked about: no, it is something ordinary citizens must DO. If there is no non-violent ACTION, then I believe we are simply complicit in the violence happening.

As a South African, I am the beneficiary of a sustained boycott campaign against Apartheid South Africa by ordinary citizens across the globe. The freedom I enjoy today is partly because women and men across the world refused to buy Apartheid South Africa’s goods, EVEN if their governments allowed those goods to be imported into their countries. Sometimes groups of people protested with placards in front of stores and Embassies – at other times a lone individual did that, and for all of them I am extremely grateful. I also know that boycotts and sanctions do have a positive effect even if it is experienced as negative.

Today, Israel practices Apartheid 2.0 : Supporters of Israel will vehemently try and argue and deny this, but the experience of Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza and of many observers, is that Israel practices a very sophisticated form of apartheid. Besides these daily experiences and observations, there are research documents to prove that Israel practices Apartheid 2.0, one done by South Africa’s own Human Science Research Council (HSRC) and by the work of the Russell Tribunal. This information is widely available on the internet. Israel also continued to support Apartheid South Africa even after the USA decided to implement sanctions against South Africa.

There are also thousands of newspaper articles and videos that describe this. Supporters of Israel will want to argue that this happens in other countries as well, but in their case (and one of the key reasons why I feel so strongly about this) it is being done on the basis of some selected Biblical texts, the same Bible that I read every day. And I definitely do not agree that the current state of Israel complies to the basic tenets of the Biblical text, which is love, equality and justice.

My own view is that Israel makes life as difficult as possible for ordinary Palestinian people in order to force them out and get them to emigrate so that Israel can win a “demographic war”, in other words, for Israelis to be in the majority. This strategy has worked well with tens of thousands of Palestinian Christians who are economically strong: most of them have emigrated and now live in different parts of the world. The ones who remain are being steadfast, but I know how difficult it is for them there. I therefore find the “Christian” support for Israel completely weird and unacceptable: here is a country who has, through big and small actions, driven out Christians from the Holy Land and yet other Christians find reasons, most of it completely illogical, to support them. Right now, Israel is trying to make Jerusalem a Jewish-only city through various actions. It is time we all wake up to what Israel is doing and how it continues to steal more and more land.

Coming from a country that practiced apartheid in all sorts of ways (and using the Bible to justify it), I CANNOT condone the same situation happening in another part of the world and be quiet about it. President Mandela had a very deep intuition when he said that “South Africans will not be free until the people of Palestine are free”. He was completely right, and people such as Archbishop Tutu and many others support the struggle of the Palestinian people despite the worst kind of criticisms they face.

Woolworths chooses to trade with Apartheid Israel I described above : It must be said that Woolworths is not the only company that trades with Apartheid Israel, and that the South African government enables this trade to happen. For that reason, 200 000 people marched to Parliament on August 9 to call on our government to stop this but they have still not done so. But we will not leave it there and we will continue to expose our government’s double standards. That is a discussion for another article….

Woolworths has now been approached (through letters that I and others have written to their CEO) to stop trade with Israel and they have deliberately CHOSEN to ignore these calls. Having made this clear and deliberate choice against stopping trade with Israel, it places Woolworths in a category where they are now deliberately culpable in the continued oppression of the Palestinian people.

Woolworths’ claim to be ethical , if not THE most ethical company: Those who make claims about their high ethical standards must be challenged to live by it. This is part of the reason why I support the #Boycott Woolworths campaign

The need to focus on one retailer (from a strategic and practical point of view) : Sometimes people speak about other companies who also have ties with Israel, and of course this is true. If others feel they should boycott a few companies, they should go ahead and do that. But to be effective AS A CAMPAIGN, I strongly believe in the need to focus on one target and deal with that. You will simply dilute your energy, resources and capacities if you try to do too many things at the same time. At another time, when more people have joined and there are more resources, the campaign can be broadened to the other retailers who also have links with Israel, but I strongly believe in the need to focus on one…it is the only way that the campaign will succeed.

These are some of my most important reasons why I boycott Woolworths. People are free to challenge me but I hope that at the very least you will try to understand why I feel so strongly about this. The moment when Woolworths stop its trade with Israel, I will probably support it again. But not while it trades with a country that practices Apartheid 2.0 daily, and that on the basis of a few selected Biblical texts.

If you wish to join the boycott, here are some ways to participate :

1. The simplest way is obviously to just stop buying at Woolworths, and do nothing more than that, and that will be enough for some people.

2. Some clients can also write to Woolworths to ask them to take them off their address lists.

3. Some clients can close their accounts if they feel this is what they are able to do.

4. Use Social media to mention that you support the #Boycott Woolworths campaign.

5. Write letters to the Editors of newspaper if they mischaracterise the campaign.

6. Some people can demonstrate in front of Woolworths stores from time to time.

7. Some people can demonstrate inside Woolworths stores by, for example, filling up trollies and refusing to pay until that particular branch manager of Woolworths gives an undertaking to not stock Israeli goods.

8. Some people can write to the PIC, that has almost 20% shares in Woolworths.

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Woolworths taking its clients to court: As a WW shareholder, here’s my perspective on #BoycottWoolworths

“And you do all this for a few pretzels and pomegranates?” the journalist from The Times asked me. I do it for all those whose houses are demolished, I do it for the workmen who need to queue since 2:00 at a checkpoint, I do it for Gaza, I do it for the children who are harrassed on their way to school, I do it for the farmers whose olive trees are destroyed or whose land is confiscated, I do it because I believe in human dignity for all. I do it for justice and freedom.

The journalist wanted to know why, as a shareholder in Woolworths, I am so concerned about the national boycott of Woolworths. Click here for a link to the audio interview with The Times.

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I am indeed very concerned – as a consumer, as a concerned citizen and as a shareholder. Corporate identity, or a brand, is not about window dressing or  fancy advertising. It is about embodying the values of a company on every single level. These values should inspire staff relations and also those with clients, shareholders and all other stakeholders. The values must be visible in every detail – in products, in the service, in the advertising…..down to the state of the restrooms. Yet Woolworths chooses to take its clients (of which some are shareholders) to court!

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My statement was one of a number by concerned shareholders that was read out at a media conference in Johannesburg on 18 November 2014. I also submit it through my stockbroker to Woolworths. Thus far I have had no reply from Woolworths:

Shareholder statement by Marthie Momberg for the Woolworths Annual General Meeting on 26.11.14:

As an investor in Woolworths I am compelled to reveal my concern about the image and the ethics of the company in which I invested a considerable amount of my savings.

The Woolworths brand is increasingly questioned. Woolworths imports products such as pretzels, couscous, matzos, coriander and fruit from Israel. The real issue is not the number of Israeli products on the shelves of Woolworths, but rather the existence of contracts between Woolworths and Israeli businesses. Israel is well known for its continued, systemic violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories (Gaza, the West Bank and East-Jerusalem). Peaceful, economic resistance against Israel and her partners is by no means a protest against Jews, but against a systemic regime of oppression. The boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS) is part of an international strategy similar to the one which helped to end South African apartheid. Major businesses and churches, across the globe have already implemented BDS. They did so not because they are politically driven, but for ethical reasons.

Woolworths say they are an ethical company. Woolworths’ products are of outstanding quality and are loved by South Africans. It is the result of dedication, courage and a commitment to quality. And yet, with regard to their relation with Israel Woolworths argues that they adhere to the law and need not do anything more. Ethical behaviour demands moral leadership. Laws are prerequisites that apply to everyone. It codifies practices, ideals, norms and moral values as the minimum that is required in a society, whilst ethics starts where the law ends. What would the quality of Woolworths’ products be if their business strategy simply adheres to the law and ignores going the extra mile? As shareholder I expect a consistent, reliable integrity from Woolworths. It implies responsible ethics in line with the growing international appeal for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel. South African Karstens Farms has already demonstrated ethical leadership by cutting its ties with Israeli exporter Hadiklaim. Woolworths can be the first South African retail company to take this step.

As a person who values the human dignity of all I, together with South Africans from all walks of life, support ‘the non-violent boycott against Woolworths. With our history of apartheid South Africans have a special role to play in saying no to Israel’s decades long institusionalised violations of the Palestinians. It is now our turn to express our moral support with the oppressed. As shareholder I expect Woolworths to practice what they preach and to restore trust in the business. The integrity – and the viability – of a brand has to do with values that are embodied.

As shareholders we are concerned about Woolworths’ decision to take BDS South Africa to court whilst declining a face-to-face meeting with BDS South Africa and other human rights groups.

Corporates are arguably one of society’s most potent change agents for a sustainable world and a safer, cleaner, healthier and thriving society. Woolworths is a signatory to the U.N Global Compact (UNGC), the world’s largest corporate citizenship and sustainability initiative. The UNGC is underpinned by principles derived from international instruments including the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UNGC asks companies to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption. On human rights it says: “Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.” Woolworths has developed enormous goodwill for the company with the company’s brand and reputation being wisely crafted on good citizenship and squeaky clean values. It is for precisely these reasons that Woolworths should pay attention to BDS. Why doesn’t it?

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Alan Horwitz, a Jewish human rights activist representing a group of Jewish Woolworths shareholders said:

I represent a group of Jewish shareholders in Woolworths and I think I must explain why as Jewish South Africans we have taken a stand to support the #BoycottWoolworths campaign. Israel, as we are well aware wrongly claims to act and speak on behalf of Jewish people all over the globe and Israeli actions over the last decade have featured violations not just of international law but also of Jewish ethical structures. We say this because Jews can only flourish, like any other people, in open societies that respect human rights at an individual and at a national level.

We find though, that Israel has systematically violated the rights of not just of Palestinians but of other minorities within the borders of Israel. We have seen over the last few months an escalation of quite fascistic behavior by the Israeli government and the right wing, which forms part of that government. The Israeli provocations in Jerusalem are leading to intense conflict and of course the illegal expansion by Israel of the Jewish settlements around Jerusalem are making the possibility of a negotiated and just settlement with Palestinians almost impossible. We have to say that boycott as a nonviolent response to state oppression is a completely valid and ethical response, and that is why we support this action and the #BoycottWoolworths campaign. Woolworths and other big South African corporations in the retail sector are public companies that have a responsibility in terms of our anti apartheid stance. Many Jewish activists were prominent in the anti apartheid struggle, we must continue to show the world that as Jews we will not tolerate Israel acting in our name in a a fashion which is fascist. We wholeheartedly support this boycott campaign. The Israel-Palestine conflict is something which degenerates daily, quite literally and really is time that we as South Africans take a very firm stand. Finally in conclusion, we find that Woolworths claims to be a very ethical company, that it claims to be at the forefront of good corporate practice and that is why perhaps it makes sense for Woolworths to be the front runner in this action of terminating relations with Israel.” For comment from Mr Horwitz contact 0825128188

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The #BoycottWoolworths campaign receives wide spread attention and support from various South African Government Ministers, artists, well known personalities and anti-apartheid stalwarts. To date, the management of Woolworths has refused to meet so that this issue can be resolved.

Last year Woolworths was ranked first in the RepTrak Reputation Index survey of South African companies in 2014. It was also rated in the top three of the Sunday Times Top 100 companies for 2013 and was included in the JSE Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) index for 2013/14.

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South African march for Palestine: all expectations exceeded!

We hoped 100 000 people would join the march for Gaza on 9 August 2014. We were wrong!

While an accurate number of participants is not readily available, a Mail & Guardian photographer in attendance estimated there were “well over 100 000, possible even close to 200 000 people”. There is no doubt that the massive march was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, the city has ever seen.

People came from different parts of the country – Benoni, Lenasia, Johannesburg, Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Port Elizabeth and many other places. When the first marchers were half way up Adderley Street in the city centre, the tail had still to leave the starting point in Keizergracht.

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What a day. Imagine all these women, men and children walking side by side, singing together….”we are marching, we are marching, we are marching…..” and chanting “free Palestine!”

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Whilst the city started to fill up with people hours before the march started, the organising committee gathered at the St George’s Cathedral in the city bowl to pray before the proceedings:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATwo members of the National Coalition for Palestine’s (NC4P) steering committee with the Palestinian Ambassador to South Africa. From left to right: Moulana Abdul Khalique Allie from the Muslim Judicial Council, Rev Edwin Arrison from Kairos Southern Africa, Abdel Hafiz Nofal from the Palestinian Embassy.

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As we left the St George’s Cathedral to join the procession in Keizergracht, the streets not earmarked to be part of the march, were already lined with protesters:

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Nobel Laureate, retired Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, talked to the audience in his own special way before we marched:

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He accused Israel of behaving like a “barbaric bully” in Gaza. He also said that violence leads to violence, and rejecting the oppressive Israeli regime does not mean rejecting Jews. “We are not against Jews” he said as the crowd cheered him.

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We were indeed joined by a group of Jews – also to the loud cheer of the crowd:

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The march was led by cyclists, a brigade and drummers.

“We’re from Burundi, but we’ve come to add our voices,” said the spokesman of the drummers, who wore a T-shirt with the words “Africans understand colonialism” emblazoned across the front.

 

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On our arrival at the South African Parliament, we handed our petition to Mr Mandla Mandela, a member of Parliament. We asked for decisive action from the South African government against the Israeli attacks, killings, displacement and destruction of the Gaza Strip; and an international inquiry into the conduct of the Israeli forces in targeting and destroying humanitarian infrastructure in Gaza. Several speakers also asked for the Israeli Ambassador to be expelled.

We as South Africans expressed our unity with Palestine. As a colleague said, maybe our government has not yet cut ties with Israel, but the people of this country have done so. The boycott of Woolworths also continues.

The peaceful, disciplined march was without any incidents. It was organised by the newly formed National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) which consists of 30 religious and civil society organisations, trade unions and political parties.

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South African boycott of Woolworths

In South Africa, the retail giant Woolworths is the favourite store for many – people fall in love with Woollies. Why then an urgent call from the National Coalition  for Palestine (NC4P) to boycott them?

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6 August 2014

PRESS RELEASE: NATIONAL COALITION FOR PALESTINE CALLS FOR FULL BOYCOTT OF WOOLWORTHS STORES IN SOUTH AFRICA

More than 30 wide-ranging South African civil society and religious organizations, trade unions, and political parties have come together under the banner of the National Coalition 4 Palestine (NC4P).

We stand in solidarity and in support of justice, equality and freedom for the Palestinian people. We oppose, in the strongest terms, the military invasion of the Gaza Strip and the ongoing Apartheid practices of the Israeli state.

We support the call by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to boycott all companies trading with the state of Israel. The National Coalition for Palestine has therefore issued a nationwide directive to effect an immediate boycott of all Woolworths stores in South Africa. The call to boycott is due to Woolworths’ unwavering support for the Apartheid State of Israel, and comes after much research and assessment of the status and level of trade between the chain store and the Israeli state. Woolworths has refused to remove Israeli products from their stores, and proceeds from the sale of Israeli goods funds war crimes against Palestinians. NC4P calls on all South Africans to peacefully picket at all Woolworths stores in South Africa.

Woolworths acknowledges that 0.1 percent of its trade is with Israel and the boycott will prove that the wishes of peace-loving people of South Africa should be dearer to Woolworths than its current trade relations with an oppressive colonial state. We call on the directors and shareholders of Woolworths to heed the call of the freedom loving South Africans and the uneasiness of their staff and end all business dealings with Israel. The National Coalition for Palestine further endorses the BDS movement of South Africa in its strategic campaign that includes a boycott against G4S security, Dead Sea Products and Sodastream.

The NC4P will be issuing further directives to the community following research and assessment of other companies in South Africa trading unashamedly with the warmongering state of Israel.

Issued by the National Coalition for Palestine.

For media interviews and statements, please contact:

Muhammed Desai
NC4P Spokesperson
Ph: 084 211 9988
e-mail: mdesai@bdssouthafrica.com

Kwara Keka
NC4P Spokesperson
Ph: 072 449 1774
e-mail: kkekana@bdssouthafrica.com

Martin Jansen
NC4P Spokesperson
Ph: 082 870 2025
e-mail: martin@wwmp.org.za

Rev Edwin Arrison
NC4P Spokesperson
Ph: 084 735 1835
e-mail: earrison78@telkomsa.net

Ms. Nabeweya Malick
NC4P Spokesperson
Ph: 083 408 1157
e-mail: pro@mjc.org.za

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The biggest march ever in South Africa

nc4p logoCape Town, 9 August 2014, 11:00 – 13:00:
Starting in Keizergracht in the city bowl of Cape Town and from there to Parliament – the same route people used to protest against apartheid.

TRANSPORT UPDATE: Free transport on Metro Rail if you can show a NC4P/BDS pamphlet or a Palestinian scarf or T-shirt.

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The humanity and the solidarity of every person counts. With this march we demonstrate our commitment to resisting Israel’s systemic injustices through non-violence.

The biggest march in South Africa under apartheid consisted of 90 000 people. The above photo is from the recent march for Palestine by 40 000 people. We hope to have many more on 9 August.


Since 9 August is Women’s day in South Africa, women will be in the front of the procession followed by religious leaders and everyone else. Please wear something that symbolises your affiliation – your university, your school, your religious tradition, and so forth. Like other South African ecumenical accompaniers who monitored human rights violations in Israel and Palestine on behalf of the World Council of Churches, I shall wear my EAPPI vest.

The march is organised by South Africa’s new National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P). Our aim is to receive a response from our government on our recent requests to them.

I don’t want to abuse emotional arguments, yet I believe it is a time for all in the world to feel shattered. As Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza says in a clip on YouTube:

The rights of Palestinians, even their children, are wholesale denied. And that’s appaling. It is an affront to the humanity of all of us.

Gunness succumbs to his emotions during a live interview with Al Jazeera when interviewed about an attack on a UN school shelter in which at least 15 people, mostly women and children, were killed.

We are shattered, but we are not paralysed. Let us – Jews, Christians, Muslims and others who hold the sanctity of life dear, speak up and act. An end to the violence in Gaza does not mean an end to the atrocities. Israel’s daily denial of granting Palestinians their humanity – in East Jerusalem, in Gaza, in the West Bank –  must stop. All of it. The solidarity, the intention, the words, the behaviour and the humanity of every single person counts.

Please share the details of the march widely and if you can, be there. Let us unite with all those who want a just and a viable solution. We endorse international law and those values that foster the flourishing of life for all.

 

 

South Africa: Palestinian lobby groups united in one voice to the government

375A number of South African groups – human rights, religious (Jews, Muslims, Christians, and others), civil society, political formations and trade unions stand in solidarity and in support of justice, equality and freedom, and in the strongest opposition to the most appalling atrocities perpetrated by apartheid Israel upon the people of Palestine.

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Here is a link to a news clip on the press release, and also to an article by SABC.

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Our full statement follows below:

nc4p logo

•••• MEMORANDUM TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT ••••

Israeli Attacks on Gaza and the rest of occupied Palestine –
A call for expulsion of Israeli Ambassador in South Africa

DATE: 28th July, 2014
FROM: The National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P)
SUBJECT: Israeli Attacks on Gaza and the rest of occupied Palestine – A call for expulsion of Israeli Ambassador in South Africa

The National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P), a number of South African groups comprising human rights, religious (Jews, Muslims, Christians, and others), civil society and political formations, as well as trade unions who represent the free citizens of South Africa and the world, stand here in solidarity and in support of justice, equality and freedom, and in the strongest opposition to the most appalling atrocities perpetrated by apartheid Israel upon the people of Palestine.

We stand here to express our outrage at apartheid Israel – its supporters, its justifiers, its beneficiaries, and its military media arm – for their relentless bombing and killing of the people of Palestine. The concern we communicate today is not only with the current cycle of violence against the Palestinian people, but the ending of the ongoing illegal occupation and other injustices against Palestine by apartheid Israel.

We express our deep concern at the rather lame, tepid and timid responses that have emerged from our government thus far on the matter.

Since 1948, the people of Palestine have suffered under the brutal, murderous Israeli occupation force. The nature of the Israeli occupation is violent, whereby it uses the dominant hand of a lawless military machine to subject and subjugate the Palestinians in order to confine them to a small, vulnerable enclave, surrounded by high walls and intimidating checkpoints. This is especially the harsh reality for the Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem today where a huge proportion of those killed in the last two weeks were women and children. Within the enclaves of Gaza – also known as the world’s largest open air prison – people are humiliated, degraded and deprived of basic human rights and medical care, on a daily basis.

The apartheid Israeli regime has unashamedly and without conscience taken up arms against a defenseless, occupied and oppressed people who live in a permanent state of siege and are subjected to constant bombardment with a wide array of weapons of mass destruction, including illegal chemical warfare. As the most powerful military settlement state in the region, their barbaric deeds have relentlessly continued and deepened the severe humanitarian crisis in which the Palestinians find themselves.

The facts?
• Israel has occupied and colonized Palestine since 1948 through expansionist policies, designed to rid the land of the Palestinian people;
• Israel has used its military, helicopter-fired missiles, F16’s, tanks and explosive devices on civilians in their homes that have killed over a thousand civilians, including more than 200 children in the last two weeks;
• Collective punishment of the Palestinian people – a longstanding practice of the Israeli government – is illegal, inhumane and absolutely unacceptable; instead of seeking political solutions, Israel regularly employs its military might to collectively punish the Palestinian people;
• The Israeli offensive has deepened the severe humanitarian crisis and suffering of the people of Gaza, with no intention by them of contributing to a lasting peaceful solution;
• Since the siege on Gaza, the social and economic situation in the Gaza Strip is at its worst in 40 years;
• 80% of Gaza’s 1.8 million people are literally deprived of food by Israel, as they depend on international food aid and suffer with an unemployment rate of 40% or more;
• Spare parts for hospitals and water purification cannot be imported and hospitals cannot keep life-saving equipment working.

The response of the people of South Africa?

In response to this immense tragedy we have been unequivocal in rejecting and resisting the immoral idea that both victim and perpetrator are responsible. We demand that apartheid Israel must be called to account now! We emphasise the particular responsibility that the South African Government has to act; it represents a nation born because of international solidarity with our struggle for freedom. Every single veteran of our country’s liberation struggle, including many leaders currently serving in Cabinet, who have ever been to Palestine have returned and proclaimed that life in the shadow of or under the apartheid Israeli regime is much worse than life under South African Apartheid had ever been.

In response to all of this, what has our government done?

Government has made some half-hearted statements about working in tandem with the other BRICS countries, with IBSA (India, Brazil and SA) and the United Nations, promised to send a delegation to lend support to efforts to mediate a solution, call the Israeli Ambassador, Arthur Lenk, in to receive a demarché (diplomatic note), and invite President Mahmoud Abbas to South Africa at an unspecified date.

It is obvious that none of these measures are serious. This is precisely why the Israeli Ambassador, and his accompanying choir, The Israeli lobby (the South African Zionist Federation and the Jewish Board of Deputies), can laugh them off or welcome them. These measures are intended to placate the people of South Africa who, in their tens of thousands, have taken to the streets to remind the African National Congress of what it proclaims and stands for.

We are not unmindful of the limitations of government which wields political power and needs to translate ideas into implementable policies. We are however deeply concerned that ‘implementable policies’ seem to be increasingly defined by the following factors:

a) A huge dose of mostly private interference by Israel’s lobby in South Africa.
b) The immoral comparison between the rockets of Hamas and the Israeli bombs (Imagine a wife abused for decades attempting to slap her husband – mostly missing her target and then being stabbed to death by him – And then being called ‘equally responsible for the violence’).
c) The intervention on behalf of apartheid Israel by a few government leaders who have not had the courage to open their mouths in public because they are aware that they are in defiance of official ANC congress resolutions.
d) A misplaced leaning on international structures such as the youthful BRICS and the tired UN, while doing admirable work on the ground in Gaza offers nothing but placatory noises. In fact, it is evident that other countries, including European ones, along with Brazil, Venezuela, Chile and Ecuador, have acted far more decisively against apartheid Israel. South Africa’s excuse about not wanting to act unilaterally is wearing rather thin. Seventeen European Union countries have issued guidelines to their citizens, businesses and other entities including Germany, the United Kingdom, etc., warning them against doing business with Israeli or international companies that have any sort of operations in the illegal, apartheid Israeli settlements or the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Similar guidelines must be issued in South Africa. It is frankly embarrassing that South Africa is actually having to play ‘catch-up’ with other countries’ advocacy and resistance strategies (see http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.603030).
e) Both the gentle and the not-so-gentle threats by the United States of America to reduce various trade preferences with South Africa, if South Africa was to put its money where its mouth lies in relation to apartheid Israel.
f) The lie that government must be seen to appease two local religious communities: i.e. Muslims and Jews. It is a lie because:
i) Under the guise of religious identity those who intervene on apartheid Israel’s behalf do so as an extension of that country’s foreign policy operations and must be treated as such.
ii) While South Africa belongs to all of its people, we do not expect our government to listen to the voices of those of who support racism and economic exploitation simply because those guilty of these are also South Africans.
iii) While under apartheid the most authoritative Afrikaner voices may indeed have been the Nationalist Party and the Afrikaner churches, the deeply moral (albeit stifled) voices belonged to the Bram Fischers, the Beyers Naudes, the Antjie Krogs, and the Jeanette Schoons. As the heirs of these national heroes, our government has to listen to such groups as ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’, ‘Stop the Jewish National Fund’, and the more than 100 leading Jews who recently and publicly denounced apartheid Israel’s invasion and massacre of Gaza.

We implore all structures of our government to:

1. Immediately recall the South African Ambassador in Tel Aviv, as a form of diplomatic protest;

2. Immediately expel the Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk from South Africa as a form of diplomatic protest;

3. Heed Palestinian civil society’s – as well as Amnesty International’s – call for a full military embargo on apartheid Israel;

4. Implement the decisions of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference in Durban in 2006 to: a) ban all products of Israeli companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territory, and b) ban entry of Israeli settlers into South Africa;

5. Hold South Africans who have enlisted in the Israeli occupation army accountable to legal prosecution, in accordance with South African laws;

6. Immediately act on the Gaza Docket currently lodged with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) which names several South Africans who served in the previous Israeli massacre in Gaza in 2008/2009.

The following economic sanctions must be implemented:

1. All state departments must implement the above guidelines so as to make sure that no contracts or tenders involve and/or support Israeli companies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

2. Caterpillar, the company handling house and other demolitions for apartheid Israel, should be excluded from all South African infrastructure and related projects due to its involvement in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements and involvement in the demolition of Palestinian homes.

3. G4S should be excluded from all South African government contracts due to its involvement in the illegal Israeli settlements, prisons and detention centres.

4. Implement ethical and international law policies that exclude international corporations complicit in Israeli violations of international law, including Caterpillar, G4S, Veolia, among others, from public contracts.

We demand that the following political steps be taken:
1. Move away from the history of Apartheid South Africa’s ‘cozy’ relations with apartheid Israel, and immediately implement strict visa requirements for Israelis entering South Africa who must be investigated for their possible involvement in human rights abuses and war crimes.

2. Make local municipalities “Apartheid Israel Free Zones” by not supporting any contracts for goods or services with Israeli or related companies involved in the unjust Israeli occupation of Palestine.

3. Send a communiqué to all MPLs, councillors, and municipal officials not to travel to apartheid Israel as per national policy.

4. Support BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) efforts to expel the Israeli Medical Association from the World Medical gathering taking place in Durban during 8-11 October 2014.

5. Support BDS efforts to expel the Israeli Architecture Association from the International Union of Architects being held in Durban during 3-10 August 2014.

6. Affirm courageous Jewish South Africans who stand up and resist the illegal occupation of Palestine by apartheid Israel.

7. Ensure the speedy implementation of the recent Human Rights Council decision to investigate war crimes as perpetrated by apartheid Israel in occupied Palestine.

Signed and supported by:

  • Ahmed Kathrada Foundation;
  • Al Ansaar Foundation;
  • Al Quds Foundation;
  • AMAL (Association of Muslim Accountants and Lawyers);
  • ANC Youth League;
  • Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDS South Africa);
  • COSATU;
  • Friends of Al Aqsa South Africa;
  • Islamic Council of South Africa;
  • Islamic Medical Association of South Africa;
  • Jamiatul Ulama South Africa;
  • Kairos Southern Africa; KwaZulu-Natal;
  • KZN Palestine Solidarity Forum;
  • Media Review Network (MRN);
  • MSA Union; Muslim Judicial Council (South Africa);
  • Muslim Youth Movement; Not In My Home;
  • Open Shuhada Street (OSS);
  • Palestine Museum;
  • Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA);
  • Palestine Solidarity Association University of the Western Cape (PSA UWC);
  • Palestine Solidarity Campaign Cape Town (PSC Cape Town);
  • Palestine Solidarity Campaign Stellenbosch (PSC Stellenbosch);
  • Palestine Solidarity Forum;
  • Palestine Solidarity Forum (UJ PSF);
  • Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC);
  • Pietermaritzburg for Palestine (PMB4Palestine);
  • SA-EAPPI;
  • South African Communist Party (SACP);
  • UKZN Theology & Development Programme;
  • University of Cape Town Palestine Solidarity Forum (UCT PSF).

NC4P Launch: Media Statement
Cape Town, South Africa
July 28, 2014

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