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The pig’s head debacle: A disgrace to Palestinians, to Jews, to South Africans and to all others

Placing pigs’ heads on top of the meat others want to buy serves neither the Palestinian cause nor the boycott campaign against Woolworths. It disrespects all Jews, all Muslims, all animals, and all who advocate for freedom and dignity.

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Tactics of intimidation and disrespect belongs to an ideology of oppression. It is disguised violence. To argue that the end goal justifies the means is part of an outdated, dualistic, hierarchical framework which ignores relationships. Isn’t this the very thing that we try to move away from? Does it not go against everything the broader South African solidarity movement stand for? Can such tactics ever win people over to hear the cries of the Palestinians?

mondoweiss, artist unknown

Calling the incident “completely offensive”, Sumayya Omar, of BDS South Africa, said the group “condemned” the action. “We are completely distancing ourselves from the incident. BDS is not involved or implicated at all,” she said. Likewise, South Africa’s National Coalition for Palestine made it clear that the incident is unacceptable.

The following letter in the Cape Town newspaper, Argus (6 November 2014), written by a Jewish colleague in the local Palestine solidarity movement, is crisp and clear:

Dear Editor of Argus,

The action at Woolworths last Thursday as well as today’s press release by COSAS that it has placed a further three pig’s heads in Woolworths stores and is so planning to place ten more, is unacceptable both for reasons of principle and strategy.

In principle it is conflating ‘ the Jewish religion’ with ‘the political state of Israel’. This is through linking a pig’s head to Jewish religious dietary laws that regard pork as impure and there are injunctions not to eat it. Their intention is anti-Jewish, and not simply anti-Israel. The action also demeans sentient life other than human, in this case about 14 pigs have been killed and beheaded to make a political point.

The action has brought pork into a store which also caters for Muslim consumers, whose dietary laws also forbid them to consume pork; this is an affront to them, and they are the main target of consumers whom this campaign is appealing to boycott Woolworths. Today’s press release confirms that it is COSAS’ explicit intention to deeply affront Jewish, Muslim and other consumers in order to shock them into realising the IDF’s carnage in Gaza (they refer specifically to the killing of schoolchildren through targeting artillery, tank and air bombardment on schools etc.), rather than engaging consumers with information about the attack on Gaza as well as the broader issue of Israel’s historical and ongoing violation of Palestinians’ human rights (including the right to self-determination) in order to raise their awareness and convince them to boycott Woolworths over the longer term. I think that the placing of the Pigs’ heads is already causing a backlash from the targeted consumers themselves.

This is a tactic of intimidating consumers into boycotting, for which there was a history in the anti-apartheid struggle in the 1980s where COSAS and other youth formations sometimes enforced consumer boycotts by punishing consumers who dared to break them – youths guarded the entrances to townships and searched people’s bags and containers as they came home, forcing those who had bought at forbidden shops to consume all that then and there; often this entailed forcing them to drink raw cooking oil, etc. They were able to do this because they had made the townships ungovernable. This is not the situation today where the ideas that legitimise or delegitimise opposing actions, is the terrain where this struggle is largely being fought outside of Israel/Palestine. In any event this is not a democratic but an authoritarian politics and I reject it both for its taunting of Jews and Muslims as well as for its undermining the growth of a movement that has legitimacy and mass support across the religious, ethnic/race and class spectrum.

COSAS thinks that the end justifies the means, but equally there is a greater risk that these means will start corrupting a noble end.

Yours truly,

Dr Paul Hendler
Stellenbosch

I am a Jewish South African against the demonisation of the Palestinian People and for a rational discussion of their circumstances.

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The Congress of South African Students (COSAS) has since expressed their disgust and distanced themselves from the incident. They said that only one person, Siphakamise Ngxowa, was involved and that he is suspended from the organisation. Ngxowa’s actions lacked the backing of COSAS even though he pretended otherwise.

COSAS STATEMENT ON WOOLWORTHS PIG HEAD INCIDENT
Official Statement of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) on the Lamentable Woolworths “Pig Head” Incident:

The Congress of South African Students would first like to continue pledging its solidarity with the people of Palestine. COSAS has nationally supported the advocating for freeing people of Palestine from apartheid Israel, we have done that through releasing press statements, doing interviews, attending the campaigns, marches and
addressing various events on the particular matter.

The Congress of South African Students has committed itself in forming part of this struggle without any hesitation because it is a just course. Democracy, peace and stability are deserved by any living human being; this is why we continue to pledge our consistent solidarity with the people of Palestine.

With the above being said as an organization we must go on to mention that it comes as a disappointment to us that establishments such as Woolworths continue to import goods from Israel, whilst there is no peace in that country and people of Palestine including children are brutally killed and murdered every day.

As an organization we indeed believe that Woolworths should continue to be lobbied until they join the rest of the country in being in solidarity with the people of Palestine. As an organization we do understand the importance of boycotts and sanctions as they also assisted our very own country when it fought against apartheid governance.
We are however of the view that when we do not agree with certain methods being used to push the struggle of the Palestinians forward, we are not going to be censored to raise it in fear of being labelled sellouts. When as an organization we resolved on participating in this campaign we never requested advice from anyone therefore even
now we will not seek approval of anyone to continue to participate in it and we again will not be threatened not to critique where we see fit to do so. South Africa remains a country in itself, which has its own beliefs and values it also has a constitution which guides it.

The Congress of South African Students is again also an organization which has its own constitution which guides it will never compromise on. As we continue to push forward this struggle we can never lose identity of who we are and what our primary principles are.

The Congress of South African Students joins the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) SA and the African National Congress in condemning the placing of the pig heads in the meat section of Woolworths stores around the Western Cape Province as a method to lobby Woolworths to stop trading with Israel. This particular method is
surrounded by a number of controversies when it comes to religion.

As the Congress of South African Students we view this method as seeking to provoke certain religions in order to push the campaign forward which we believe weakens and further mobilizes against the boycott as some religions may find this offensive and further provocative. We find this method ill-advised and not well thought as it has now
brought a certain level of instability in our own country religiously, which is not something that we should allow to happen. We cannot compromise peace and religious rights of our own people in order to push forward this struggle.

As an organization we would like to place it on record that it was not COSAS which led this campaign. There is no structure of the organization which set and resolved on this Pig Head campaign, we do however acknowledge that an individual by the name of Siphakamise Ngxowa was part of that action.

Siphakamise Ngxowa is currently suspended from the organization, in a suspension which was in effect before the Woolworths incident happened, which gives the organization all rights to distance itself from the mishap and clear itself from participating in it, as Siphakamise Ngxowa participated on the campaign in his own personal capacity.

It is further important we point out that no other member of COSAS in good standing was found in this debacle. The organization has noted that the particular individual continues to release statements and address the media on behalf of the organization posing as the chairperson of COSAS Western Cape, despite being suspended from the organization. We view this act as unprincipled, misleading and further bringing the organization in disrepute, the act by the individual will further be engaged and added when the appropriate structures of the organization considers his suspension further.

Statement issued by COSAS President General Collen Malatji, November 4 2014

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South Africans on their return from the oPt: “We owe it to ourselves to act”

“We owe it to ourselves to act against Israel’s occupation and extensive abuses

they said. A civil society delegation of eleven South Africans visited Israel and the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem between 21 – 29 October 2014.

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Media release:

The delegation included former anti-apartheid activists Barney Pityana, Vusi Pikoli and Firoz Cachalia; civil society leaders Vuyiseka Dubula, Brad Brockman and Adila Hassim; politician Mbali Ntuli; author and political analyst Christi van der Westhuizen; and activists Adaiah Lilenstein, Bruce Baigrie and Keren Ben-Zeev.

We met Israeli and Palestinian civil society organisations, activists, politicians and local people to discuss the different dimensions of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Regrettably we were unable to enter Gaza due to the time constraints caused by the stringent permit conditions.

Based on our visits to Tel Aviv, East Jerusalem and the West Bank, our observations are the following:

Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed on a two-state solution in the Oslo Accords of 1993, in which a five year process would have culminated in an independent Palestinian state encompassing the West Bank and Gaza. The visit made it clear to the delegation that Israel’s military occupation and expanding settlement of the West Bank and East Jerusalem is eroding the viability of the two-state solution.

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Palestinian civilians are under military law, which is discretionary and arbitrary and they rely on the institutions of the Israeli occupation for most services, as the Palestinian Authority has limited powers. Israeli military courts are run by soldiers and traffic offences are tried by military courts, which have no system of due process and do not comply with the rule of law. People resisting the occupation are also tried in the military courts. They are detained in terms of military codes and face random decisions and postponing of their cases or procedures such as “administrative detention”, which potentially leaves them imprisoned for indefinite periods without access to proper legal representation. Interrogation and torture are routinely used. Applications for permits to leave the West Bank for work and other purposes have to be made to the military administration. In contrast, Israeli settlers in the West Bank are under civilian law and enjoy all basic rights like their fellow Israeli citizens. The Israeli cabinet is currently considering a bill to restrict the independence of the court.

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In most of the areas that the delegation visited – East Jerusalem, Jordan Valley, Hebron and villages outside of Ramallah – we saw how settlements work on the ground. The number of settlers in the West Bank including East Jerusalem currently stands at over 515 000. The Jordan Valley has huge agricultural settlements in a water-scarce area. We were shocked to find out that Israeli settlers are allocated on average 6 times the amount of water than Palestinians whose usage is limited to 23 litres per day in some areas . Palestinians also on average pay three times the price for their water. Palestinians cannot build their homes, improve their access to water or engage in agricultural activities freely. In East Jerusalem and Hebron we saw how religious zealots physically displaced Palestinians with the support of the military. Many settlements include military bases. Soldiers and settlers are both armed, leaving Palestinians unprotected in the eye of violent acts of settlers.

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Between 2004 and 2014, 517 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem have been demolished, leaving 2028 people homeless, over half of whom were minors. During the delegation’s visit, the Israeli government announced the construction of another 1000 settler homes in East Jerusalem, the internationally recognised future capital of the Palestinian state. The delegation met with families physically displaced by Israelis who have invaded their homes, while soldiers were patrolling the area.

It has become clear to us through our visit that the settlement process and the mass dispossession and displacement of Palestinians are directly opposed to the goal of a two-state solution. It seems to be aimed either at the forcible transfer of the Palestinian population, which amounts to continuing ethnic cleansing or at the very least, the containment of Palestinians in a system of fragmented cantons. Violent suppression of demonstrations against dispossession and displacement is backed up by draconian military law.

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Palestinians are criminalised even when resisting the occupation without force and a staggering one-fifth of the population of the West Bank has been incarcerated since 1967. There are currently 6200 political prisoners.

The delegation’s visit to the Ofer military court revealed that these courts operate on the presumption of guilt in a hopelessly unjust administrative process controlled by soldiers. This is confirmed by the conviction rate of 99.7% .

Particularly abominable is the Israeli Defence Forces’ targeting of Palestinian children. An estimated 2 500 Palestinian children have been arrested between 2010 to mid-2014 . Approximately 400 children were between the ages of 12 and 15 years but some were as young as 5. Children are subject to torture and interrogation. Intimidation includes threats of sexual violence. While the delegation was in Hebron, an 11-year-old child was arrested by the military on his way to school and held without his parents or any legal representation for hours. We heard many accounts and were shown footage of these abuses.

It became clear to the delegation that Israel and the West Bank form one territory that is fragmented through a system of regulation and physical control through which resources such as fertile lands, water and state revenues are extracted for the benefit of Israeli citizens at the expense of Palestinians. These steps deepen the poverty and economic marginalisation of Palestinians. In Hebron we even saw how shops and market places are shut down in service of the grand design of the Israeli security state.

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Across class and geography, the Palestinians we met were clear they would be willing to live peacefully side by side with Jews, either in two states, a bi-national state or one state. As a nation which struggled and continues to struggle for justice, peace and human rights we have a particular responsibility to speak out on injustice where it is evident. As such, we call on South Africans, Israeli citizens and the global community to support the transition to a just and peaceful resolution that recognises Palestinians’ claims to human rights.

The delegation calls for:

  • An immediate end to the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, which remains under illegal blockade, and the removal of all settlements.

  • The Israeli government as well as Palestinian ruling factions to uphold the rule of law and to respect and protect Palestinians’ human rights under international law. All political prisoners must be released.

  • Support for the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel until international law is observed. Israeli society continues to largely be complicit in the maintenance of the Occupation and Israeli politics remains dominated by the right and ultra-right parties. Thus the international community must make the occupation economically, politically and morally costly for Israel until it is dismantled.

  • The South African government to consistently apply all relevant legislation, including the Foreign Military Assistance Act.After we have seen the reality on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territories, we hereby express our solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination.

 

During the eight days the delegates met and interacted with both Israeli and Palestinian civil society members and with political representatives in Israel and Palestine. Among other activities, the group visited the Jordan Valley to understand the politics of water and its impact on Palestinian farmers; they observed military court proceedings in the West Bank and participatee in a workshop in Ramallah to share South Africa’s experience of advancing human rights and social justice. The delegation will host report back events upon its return.

The fact-finding mission was facilitated by Open Shuhada Street South Africa and the Heinrich Boell Foundation. This statement represents the delgation’s personal views and not necessarily the official positions of any organisations.

Adaiah Lilenstein
Adila Hassim – Section 27
Prof. Barney Pityana
Brad Brockman – Equal Education
Bruce Baigrie – Open Shuhada Street
Dr. Christi van der Westhuizen – Author and political analyst
Prof. Firoz Cachalia – Wits School of Law
Keren Ben-Zeev
Vusi Pikoli
Vuyiseka Dubula – Treatment Action Campaign & Sonke Gender Justice

Media liaison: Layla Al-Zubaidi, 082 885 7878 or layla.al-zubaidi@za.boell.org

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Dit gaan alles oor die grond

Sou ’n mens die algehele duur van die Joodse koninkryke as onafhanklik beskou, het die Jode vir ’n totaal van net 414 jaar regeer.

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Geen gesprek oor die konflik in Palestina is sinvol sonder om die storie in die Ou Testament te gaan haal nie, skryf Dr. Chris Jones, ‘n teoloog by Stellenbosch Universiteit:

Aan wie behoort Palestina? Wie het die grootste historiese aanspraak op die grondgebied? Waarom is dit so moeilik om die konflik tussen ¬Israel en die Palestyne te besleg?

Om die dekades lange konflik in die Midde-Ooste beter te verstaan, help dit om die historiese wortels wat hiertoe aanleiding gegee het ook beter te verstaan.

In die proses is dit ook nodig om baie van die aanvaarde dogma oor byvoorbeeld die Sionistiese beweging en hul historiese aanspraak op Palestynse grondgebied in heroënskou te neem.

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Die grond waarop die Palestyne vir meer as 1 000 jaar gewoon het, is met die totstandkoming van die Israelse staat meestal met geweld en sonder hul instemming van hulle afgeneem.

Palestinian loss of land 1946-2005

Van die begin af was dit die Sioniste se doelwit om die nie-Joodse Palestyne van hul grond te vervreem.

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Sionisme was egter op ’n foutiewe kolonialistiese wêreldbeskouing gegrond waarin daar niks gevoel is vir die regte van inheemse mense nie.

Tussen 3 000 en 1 100 v.C. het die Kanaäniete op die grond gewoon wat vandag as Israel, die Wesoewer, Libanon en die grootste dele van Sirië en Jordanië bekend staan. Die Hebreërs het teen ongeveer 1 800 v.C. hierheen migreer.

Volgens opgrawings was Jerusalem teen hierdie tyd reeds ’n gevestigde stad. ’n Baie gesofistikeerde waterstelsel wat in daardie stadium moontlik agt eeue oud kon wees, getuig hiervan.

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Die Joodse koninkryke was slegs een van baie tydperke in antieke Palestina. Die uitgebreide koninkryke van Dawid en Salomo waarop die Sioniste hul grondeise baseer, het in totaal net 73 jaar geduur.

En sou ’n mens die algehele duur van die Joodse koninkryke – vandat Dawid Kanaän in 1 000 v.C. verower het tot die uitwissing van Juda in 586 v.C. – as onafhanklik beskou, het die Jode vir ’n totaal van (net) 414 jaar regeer.

Palestina, die bakermat van die Christendom, het in die 7de eeu reeds ’n oorheersend Arabiese land geword. In 1516 word Palestina ’n provinsie van die Ottomaanse Ryk, maar dit was steeds nie mínder Arabies nie.

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Sedert 1882 het Joodse koloniste in Palestina begin vestig, maar tot en met die lente van 1948 toe Israel as staat gevestig is, was Arabiere verreweg in die meerderheid. Daar was egter steeds ook afstammelinge van die Semiete – die oorspronklike inwoners van die landstreek – wat Christene, Jode, of Moslems was.

In 1858 kom die Ottoman-grondkode van krag wat vereis dat landbougrond in die naam van individuele eienaars geregistreer word. Vir die eerste keer kon ’n landbewoner ontneem word van sy reg om op grond te bly, dit te bewerk en oor te dra aan ’n volgende geslag. Voorheen was hierdie regte onvervreembaar. Hierdie kode het dikwels gemeenskapsregte op eiendom geïgnoreer.

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Ná die val van die Ottomaanse Ryk en die Eerste Wêreldoorlog word Palestina ’n Britse mandaatgebied.

Die Balfour-deklarasie van November 1917 wat deur die Britse regering uitgevaardig is, het ’n Joodse tuisland in Palestina belowe. Dit beteken ’n Europese krag het ’n besluit geneem oor ’n nie¬Europese gebied sonder inagneming van die teenwoordigheid en wense van die grootste meerderheid inwoners van daardie gebied, die Palestyne.

Van 1936 tot 1939 het die Palestyne in opstand gekom, maar is met Britse mag onderdruk.

In 1947 toe die Verenigde Nasies se partisieplan aangekondig is, het dit grond wat onwettig deur Jode bekom en besit is, amptelik aan hulle toegeken.

Die destydse Sioniste-leier David BenGurion was uiters ongelukkig hieroor, want hy wou nog méér grond hê as wat deur die VN bepaal is – ten koste van die Palestyne, natuurlik.

Teen hierdie tyd was Amerika een van die mees aggressiewe voorstaanders van partisie. Die Verenigde Nasies het met die partisieplan een van hul eie kernbeginsels, naamlik dié van die reg tot selfbeskikking vir álle mense, geweld aangedoen.

In Desember 1947 het Brittanje aangekondig hy gaan op 15 Mei 1948 uit Palestina onttrek. Palestyne in Jerusalem en Jaffa het toe ’n protes teen die partisie uitgeroep en gevegte het feitlik onmiddellik in die strate van Jerusalem uitgebreek. In April 1948 was agt uit die 13 groot Sionistiese militêre aanvalle gemik op Palestyne in die gebied wat aan die Arabiese staat toegeken was.

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Met hul sterk militêre mag het die Europese Jode teen 15 Mei 1948 die meeste Arabiese stede in Palestina ingeneem. In teenstelling hiermee het die Palestyne nie beslag gelê op een van die gebiede wat deur partisie vir die Joodse staat gereserveer was nie.

Ná 15 Mei 1948 het die Arabiere toegetree tot die stryd, maar dit was die tweede fase van die oorlog – in reaksie op die massamoorde, uitsettings en onteiening wat oor tyd deur Sioniste aan hulle gedoen is. In hierdie tyd het ongeveer 700 000 Palestyne gevlug – van hulle is uitgedryf.

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index0093Palestyne herdenk die Nakba (Die Katastrofe) in Jerusalem.

In die winter van 1949 was meer as 750 000 Palestyne in ballingskap. In die koue het families in grotte, hutte en tente gebly – uitgehonger, dikwels binne sigafstand van hul eie groentetuine in Palestina, wat tóé deel is van die nuwe staat van Israel.

Sedert die Sesdaagse Oorlog van 1967 het Israel min gevoel vir internasionale wetgewing. Hulle het 52% van die grond in die Wesoewer beset en 30% van die Gasastrook, vir óf militêre gebruik óf die vestiging van Joodse burgers. Tans is dit veel meer.

Net tussen 1967 en 1982 het Israel se militêre regering 1 338 Palestynse huise op die Wesoewer vernietig. Sedertdien het hierdie vernietiging voortgegaan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA640x392_2170_264609media_29ebc6919dd74f69ad4b1c1ff51d929e_t607israel-5irangazaA Free Syrian Army fighter mourns at the grave of his father in a public park that has been converted into a makeshift graveyard in Deir el-Zor

Gedurende dieselfde tydperk is meer as 300 000 Palestyne sonder verhoor deur Israel se geheime magte aangehou.

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Die VN se Algemene Vergadering het hom intussen wel uitgespreek teen Israel se besetting van die Wesoewer, Oos-Jerusalem en Gasa – en teen Israel se ontkenning van selfbeskikking en dat dít ’n ernstige en groeiende bedreiging vir internasionale vrede en sekuriteit inhou.

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Die jongste geskiedenis is gekenmerk deur die bou van ’n sogenaamde “apartheidsmuur” tussen die Palestynse gebied in die Wesoewer, Oos-Jerusalem en Israel, met gepaardgaande inperking op die beweging van mense in hul eie staat. Palestynse huise, ander infrastruktuur en grond word in die Wes-oewer en Oos-Jerusalem onteien of vernietig en nuwe Israelse nedersettings brei steeds in die besette gebiede uit.

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Voorts is daar die onwettige verbruik van water deur Israelse setlaars en daarmee saam die inkorting van watervoorsiening aan die Palestyne in die Wesoewer, asook Israelse militêre intimidasie in die besette Palestynse gebiede.

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Dit lyk of Israel hul militêre stewels stewig in die gesig van die Palestyne wil hou. Dít is natuurlik olie op die konflik-vuur in Palestina.

Weerstandsbewegings word gevoed deur diskriminasie en menseregteskendings.

’n Mens kan weerwraak op grond van historiese onreg nooit regverdig nie, tóg sal dit ’n logiese gevolg wees – partykeer tot die uiterste gedryf, soos Hamas wat kort ná hul stigting in 1987 erken het hy wil Israel vernietig. Tog is dít nie genoem in sy Palestynse parlementsverkiesingsmanifes van 2006 nie.

Dit is nie goed genoeg dat politici net hierdie krisis bestuur nie, dit moet opgelos word. En dít kan slegs in ooreenstemming met internasionale wetgewing gebeur. Dit is al hoe ware, volhoubare vrede moontlik is. In hierdie opsig het Israel veral baie werk om te doen.

Soos gepubliseer op 24 Aug 2014 in Weekliks – Rapport.

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My brief oor Woolworths aan Die Burger wat nié geplaas is nie

Geagte Redakteur,

U berig ”Woolies wil nie sê wat die Moslem-boikot aan sy verkope doen” (DB, 01.10) noem nie dat ook Christene, nie-Sionistiese Jode en talle andere die vreedsame, wettige boikot teen Woolworths ondersteun nie. Dis deel van ‘n internasionale strategie soortgelyk aan dié een wat Suid-Afrikaanse apartheid help beëindig het.

Woolworths het handelsbande met Israel wat welbekend is vir menseregteskendings in die besette Palestynse gebied (Gaza, die Wes-Oewer en Oos-Jerusalem). Weerstand teen Israel behels nie ‘n protes teen Jode nie, maar teen ‘n beleid van grootskaalse menseregtevergrype.

Die veldtog van boikot, disinvestering en sanksies (BDS) teen Israel is die keuse van die meerderheid Palestynse burgerlikes (www.bdsmovement.net). So het die Gates Stigting onlangs al hul aandele in die G4S sekuriteitsmaatskappy verkoop, en plaaslik het Karstens Plase hul bande met die Israeliese uitvoerder Hadiklaim verbreek.

Woolworths sê hulle is ‘n etiese maatskappy. Tog voer hulle produkte soos pretsels, koeskoes, matzos, koljander en vrugte in van Israel. Woolworths sê hulle kom die wet na en hoef nie meer te doen nie. Wetgewing is egter net die basis van ‘n gemeenskap se moraliteit. Etiek begin waar die reg stop. As Woolworths regtig eties verantwoordbaar is, sal hulle gehoor gee aan die internasionale oproep om ekonomiese isolasie van Israel.

As Suid-Afrikaners hul identiteit as ‘n baken van hoop wil laat herleef, moet al die lae van ons samelewing met morele integriteit handel. Om handelsbande met Israel te handhaaf is net so onverantwoordelik soos om die Dalai Lama die land te weier.

Vriendelike groete,
Marthie Momberg

3 Oktober 2014

Yom Kippur: Why some South African Jews fasted for Gaza

Our religion and cultural beliefs require us to help repair the world. It is time the Jewish people as a whole begin engaging in our own version of liberation theology: Tikkun olam.

These are the words of a group of mostly South African Jews. They also said that religion means nothing if it does not serve justice. The group dedicated the most important dates on the Jewish calendar to reflect on what their Jewishness mean in light of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the recent bombing of Gaza.

This is how they explain their decision:

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The fast is a spiritual, social and political practice that is many thousands of years old. Most major religions and ethnicities practice some form of fasting whether it is a partial fast (the refusal of certain foods and drinks) or an absolute fast (the abstinence from all food and water).

Spiritually, its purpose usually includes forms of meditation or prayer, a physical cleansing, an interpersonal request for repentance, and an expression of solidarity with the poor.

In recent decades, however, the fast has also been transformed into an act of political activism and the long-term hunger strike has often come to be one of the most effective forms of civil disobedience out there. It is used both as an appeal to the oppressor’s conscience and also, more importantly, a method to galvanise supporters behind a specific social justice campaign. Most recently, the hunger strike successfully has been used by Palestinian political prisoners to call attention to their unjust incarceration. In some cases throughout the world, it has also helped stimulate popular action that has brought down authoritarian governments.

The holiday of Yom Kippur is widely accepted as the most important holiday on the Jewish calendar. On this day, we are requested to repent for all our wrong-doings during the previous year and resolve to not commit that transgression again in the future. If one is religious, one goes to Synagogue to pray and repent directly to God. However, even cultural non-religious Jews use the Yom Kippur fast as a time to reflect on where we have missed the mark, to correct wrongdoings and to mend relations with others.

However, one of the important points that many religious Jews make is that fasting and praying to God is not in fact the primary method of achieving atonement. Instead, being sincere about one’s regret for the wrong-doing and the rectification of one’s misconduct is fundamental (see also Isaiah, 58:1–13). This righting of wrongs should be done in the 10 days between Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur.

Since we have been raised and educated with the memory of the Holocaust which killed tens of millions of Jews, Roma, Homosexuals, Communists and others, we are acutely aware of the pitfalls of nationalism that seeks to place one group of people above all others. Nationalism therefore has no place in the Jewish community with its attempt to make reality the motto, The Chosen People, in the form of Zionism. We don’t believe that there is anyone who is ‘chosen’. We are all people with the responsibility to do right by others whether they find themselves in the Warsaw ghetto, physically imprisoned in Gaza or economically confined in South African townships.

At the forefront of wrongs we need to right, is the ongoing mainstream Jewish support for the Israeli colonisation of Palestine and its continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This is being done in our name, and we have not done enough to stop it. It is for this reason that we believe that Gaza is the most urgent issue for us to reflect on this Yom Kippur. We will be going out and physically fasting and raising money for those in Gaza who have suffered unconscionable horrors.

Religion is inherently a political construct. This fact has been recognised by liberation theologists who believe that religion is nothing unless it is in the service of justice. Antisemitic and Racist churches played major roles in upholding the Nazi regime and Apartheid respectively. In contrast, liberation theology has long played an emancipatory role against oppression. During apartheid, progressive churches and mosques became key sites of political organising and in Latin America, rogue Catholic priests helped mobilise and protect the population against oppressive dictators.

Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who South Africa hosted in our country following the US coup in Haiti, has said “It is better not to believe than to believe in a miracle from heaven…there is no Messiah other than the people”. With this he sought to say that religion’s relevance is in its fight against injustice and that God would see this as the true purpose of religion.

Dedicating our Yom Kippur fast to the people of Gaza follows this line of thinking. Unlike the dominant Zionist organisations, some of whom preach ethnic and religious nationalism and the bombing of Gaza directly from the bimah (the Jewish equivalent of a pulpit), our beliefs are based on tolerance, inclusivity and social justice. We think that this is what Judaism, and Yom Kippur in particular, is all about.

Case in point is the prophetic reading recited on the morning of Yom Kippur which in fact denounces people who fast as a substitute for working for social justice.

We have dedicated our fast to raising money for the Gaza Community Mental Health Program – a well-known and respected organisation founded by the first psychiatrist in the Gaza Strip, Dr Eyad el Sarraj. The GCMHP is renowned for helping Palestinians move beyond their collective trauma to recognise the basic humanity of all human beings.

Yet it is not good enough for us merely to give charity to such an important cause. Tzedakah, in its biblical conception, is about much more than this. It embodies the theology that Jews are obligated – rather than asked – to seek economic and social justice with the oppressed.

Our religion and cultural beliefs require us to help repair the world. It is time the Jewish people as a whole begin engaging in our own version of liberation theology: Tikkun olam.

Jared Sacks
Benjamin Fogel
Heidi Grunebaum
Lauren Segal (USA)
Koni Benson
Emma Daitz
Monique Marks
Steven Friedman
Ru Slayen
Rina King
Jill Chamsa
Janet Brenda Shapiro
Anonymous 1
Anonymous 2

The following non-Jews  fasted in solidarity with us:
Saydoon Nisa Sayed
Nina Butler
Clint Le Bruyns

Yom Kippur 2014 began in the evening of Friday, October 3 and ended in the evening of Saturday, October 4.

Op soek na die waarheid

Op die vyftigste dag van die uitmergelende 2014 konflik tussen Israel en Gaza het ‘n groepie van vyf kerklidmate na ‘n DVD, Roadmap to Apartheid gekyk. Dié lede van die Fontaineblue Gemeenskapskerk (lid van die NG Kerk) wou graag meer verstaan van die konflik tussen Palestina en Israel. Dit mag onbeduidend klink – dit was immers net vyf mense. Tog het ek geleer dat ‘n verskuiwing in persepsies juis so kan begin – met een of twee mense wat kritiese, eerlike vrae vra.

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So skryf Ds Johan Pieters, leraar van die gemeente, op Fontianeblue Gemeenskapskerk se webblad oor die rol van Afrikaans-sprekende witmense en die soeke na waarheid:

Soos dit met hierdie kontroversiёle sake gaan is daar soveel mense, soveel menings. FGK se styl met kontroversiёle sake (soos homoseksualiteit, die bestaan van die bose, Belhar, saam-woon en die huwelik) is om te erken dat daar verskillende standpunte is. Ons glo ons taak is om te probeer om mekaar te verstaan, en dalk so ‘n gemeenskaplike konsensus te ontwikkel. Gesprek oor Israel-Palestina is dus ook nodig.

Wat het ek so ver geleer deur na die DVD te kyk en daaroor met mede-lidmate te gesels?

Dit het algemeen geword om Israel se optrede “Apartheid” te noem. Blykbaar is Sen. John Kelly die persoon wat eerste keer die vergelyking getref het, maar dr. HF Verwoerd het al in die 60’er jare al oor Israel as ‘n Apartheidstaat gepraat. Die video gebruik ons Apartheidsgeskiedenis om die Israel-Palestina konflik, en die impak daarvan op mense, in perspektief te stel.

Die eerste saak is dat ons, veral Afrikaans-sprekende wit mense (jammer vir die etiketering), hierdie konflik moet probeer verstaan. Ek is oortuig dat ons nie net anders na ons eie geskiedenis gaan kyk nie – en daarmee bedoel ek nie dat ons onsself nou nog meer moet treiter en aan self-veroordeling moet deelneem nie. Ek dink ‘n poging om die konflik te verstaan kan ons selfs help met ‘n stuk genesing en perspektief oor wat met ons gebeur het, insig in wat ons blindekolle was. Die vrug kan wees dat ons met groter deernis na albei partye se posisie kan kyk.

Die tweede saak wat my bybly, is die vraag na die waarheid. Hoe kies ek “kant” in ‘n situasie waar daar soveel teenstrydige perspektief en aansprake op feite is? Feite wat ek baie moeilik kan kontroleer. Vir my lyk die antwoord dat ek ‘n geloofskeuse moet maak. So ‘n geloofskeuse het nie te doen met ek “glo” Israel, of ek “glo” Hamas is “reg” nie. Dit het te make met ‘n keuse wat versoenbaar is met ons Godsbegrip – wat natuurlik self ook nie ‘n eenvoudige saak is nie. Die geloofsuitspraak wat ek maak is: “Ek glo dat God ‘n God van lewe is”, daarom moet ek wat die saak betref keuses maak wat “lewe” sal bevorder. Met lewe bedoel ek nie maar net fisies lewe nie, maar ‘n lewe wat met waardigheid geleef kan word, in gehoorsaamheid aan ‘n roeping, met betekenis en ideale geleef kan word – natuurlik sluit dit in dat daar ook toegang moet wees tot die middele om so ‘n lewe te kan leef.

Ek dink nie dat die konflik vir enige burger van Israel of Palestina ‘n moontlikheid van so ‘n lewe bied nie. Die konflik is ‘n konteks van dood vir albei groepe – net soos Apartheid ‘n konteks van dood was vir wit en swart in Suid-Afrika. Ek is wel oortuig dat (selfs al is die DVD net 50% akkuraat) die Palestyne in hierdie konflik die weerloses is, en dat God op ‘n “besondere manier” (as ek Belhar se formulering mag gebruik) aan die kant van die armes, swakkes en weerloses is. Die sterker een, die een met die mag in hierdie konflik is Israel. Hulle word deur God geroep om aan God se kant te wees, m.a.w. om saam met God by die Palestyne te staan.

Hierdie konflik is veel meer as net ‘n reaksie op “Hamas het drie Israeli tieners doodgemaak, en daarom het Israel gereageer.” (Terloops dit is nog ‘n ope vraag of dit regtig Hamas was wat die tieners doodgemaak het!) Dit is ‘n dekade-oue konflik oor saam-leef en saam-bestaan, dit is ‘n konflik oor aspirasies en vrese, oor vryheid en veiligheid, oor identiteit en mens-wees. Dit is dalk so eenvoudig soos: Hoe kyk ek na jou? Is jy ‘n mens of nie, iemand of ‘n niemand?

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Die foto’s in hierdie stuk is in Oktober 2011 geneem in die Wes-Oewer, Palestina. Die fotograaf is Jan-Egil Bergh van Noorweë wat destyds saam met my menseregte-oortredinge gemoniteer het. (EAPPI is ‘n program van die Wêreldraad van Kerke. EAPPI program = Ecumenical Accompaniment in Palestine and Israel.)

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SA-EAPPI calling on South African society, churches and government for action re Israel

South Africa’s members of the World Council of Churches EAPPI programme fully endorses the newly formed NC4P (National Coalition for Palestine) and they ask for more steps:

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STATEMENT BY SA-EAPPI ON PALESTINE AND ISRAEL
31 July 2014

We, as a group of 70 South African ecumenical accompaniers who have monitored and reported human rights abuses in Palestine cannot remain silent at a time like this. We remember how often Palestinians told us that if we as South Africans can have a just freedom, then it must be possible for them too.

South African ecumenical accompaniers have worked side to side with other internationals in occupied Palestine since 2004 in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine Israel (EAPPI). EAPPI was established by the World Council of Churches in response to a call from the Heads of Churches in the Holy Land. EAPPI provides protective presence to the vulnerable Palestinian communities and supports Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace. We have witnessed multiple and layered injuries and losses by Palestinians whether Christian or Muslim. We value and recognise the safety and dignity of all those in Israel and Palestine. Yet we are not impartial when it comes to international law.

SA-EAPPI is appalled and devastated with the ongoing bombings, shelling and rocket firing in Israel and Palestine. However we absolutely reject any arguments that position the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis as two equal sides. The disproportionate killing of civilians including so many children horrifies us. That people are deprived of shelter, food, electricity, water and the hope of freedom is a source of shame to all who value the sacredness of life and the protection of international law. The current escalation in the conflict is not a war, let alone an act of self-defence, but a punitive, planned, strategic, militant expedition by a regional super-power to deepen Israel’s military occupation of Palestine. Moreover, Israel’s systematic, systemic, institutionalised oppression of the Palestinians that violates international law on a daily basis makes the conflict a-symmetric.

SA-EAPPI endorses the Memorandum to the South African Government issued by the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) on 28 July 2014 in Cape Town. In addition, we appeal to:

  • South African citizens to not buy any Israeli produce or services;

  • all faith communities to critically review their interpretations of sacred texts in a quest to uphold those values and principles that foster the flourishing of life for all;

  • South African churches to take a clear and unequivocal stand for justice and a viable peace;

  • the South African government to break its resounding silence and to demonstrate to the world what sustained, visible solidarity can mean for the freedom of an oppressed people;

  • the United Nations’ Security Council to agree on resolutions to end both the conflict and the occupation, and to appoint an honest and an impartial broker for peace talks between Palestine and Israel; and

  • the international society to ensure the consistent implementation of international law.

 

Twee Suid-Afrikaanse EAPPI span: Carol in die agtergrond, en Zodwa in die voorgrond.  Zodwa neem by Carol oor in die Jayyous span.

East-Jerusalem: Carol Martin and Zodwa Nsibande during the handover ceremony between EAPPI Teams 40 and 41 in September 2011.

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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Video

Senior SA clergy who suffered under apartheid comment on Israel

Their words are clear. In brief, yet powerful clips, several senior South African theologians, including the new President of the South African Council of Churches Rev Zipho Siwa, talk about Israel’s oppression of Palestinians as apartheid.

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The upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW, 10 – 16 March) is an excellent opportunity for South Africans to educate themselves on what happens in Palestine-Israel, they said.

Click on these links to hear what people who suffered under apartheid in South Africa say about Israeli apartheid.

Bishop Zipho Siwa

Rev. Dr. Frank Chikane

Rev Dr Moss Nthla

Rev Pieter Grove

Archbishop Dr. Thabo Makgoba

I am so very, very aware that many well-meaning South Africans maintain myths on Israel and Palestine. When I read their comments on my blog and in the media, it often feels like a physical pain in my stomach.  How can we, a people with a legacy of apartheid, not educate ourselves on Israel’s abuses? Not in terms of what happened in South Africa, but in terms of how international law defines apartheid? I call on you – use the Israeli Apartheid Week or any other reliable source of information such as the United States (www.ochaopt.org) to inform yourself.

Gallery

Invitation 30/9 – 2/10: Three award-winning films in Stellenbosch

Join PSC Stellenbosch for three great movies on Palestine-Israel followed by a  short discussion after each screening.

Palestinians, Israelis, Jewish South Africans and Americans produced these three award-winning films:

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Five Broken Cameras: Monday 30 September, Pulp Cinema, Neelsie Student Centre, De Beers Street, Stellenbosch. (Nominated as Best Foreign Film for 2013 Oscar Awards.)

Occupation 101: Tuesday 1 October, Arts Building, Room 225, Corner of Ryneveld and Merriman Streets, Stellenbosch. (Winner of several awards as best documentary.)

The Village under the Forest: Wednesday 2 October, Pulp Cinema, Neelsie Student Centre, De Beers Street, Stellenbosch. (Audience Award for Best South African film in 2013 at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival.)

  • Tea and cake will be served at 18:00 and the screenings start at 18:30.
  • Tickets @ R20 will be sold at the entrance.

We as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) Stellenbosch invite you and your friends and colleagues to all three screenings as we want to raise for public debate Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories, its impact on the brutalisation of both Israelis and Palestinians, and Israel’s breaching of international law.

Our panelists include:

  • Monday: Father Austin Jackson and a Muslim scholar. Facilitator: Adli Peck.
  • Tuesday: the Honourable Mr HT Magama (Chair of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation), Mr Nathan Geffen (past-Treasurer of the Treatment Action Campaign and now an investigative  journalist at Groundup). Facilitator: Dr Paul Hendler.
  • Wednesday: Mark Kaplan (Director of the film) and Heidi Grunebaum (author, screen writer and narrator in the film). Facilitator: Rev Edwin Arrison, Kairos Southern Africa.

PSC Stellenbosch does not take sides between countries, ethnic groups, and religions, and we stand for equality between genders and sexual preference groups – we are unequivocally against the oppression of a people and the violation of the international human rights laws. In this context we advocate for the ending of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, for a just peace and thereby for the dignity and freedom of all the people in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Why these films?

The Occupation is often portrayed as a complex conflict between equal parties – the Palestinians on the one side and the Israelis on the other. The mainstream media sometimes presents the conflict as having a religious dimension and this contributes to its seeming intractability. Perhaps you have the impression that the situation is too complicated for the conflict to be solved?

PSC Stellenbosch adopts an International Law and Human Rights perspective because there are clear guidelines under International Law, which help to clear the waters that have been muddied in this ‘debate’. We think that by having people look at all three films we are facilitating an awareness about the nature of the occupation as well as its status under international law.

With these points in mind – some background to the occupation and its breach of international law:

International law regards the Occupied Palestinian Territories  (OPT) under ‘belligerent occupation’, which is intended to be temporary.  However Israel has occupied the West Bank for 46 years and Gaza is still under siege.

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) (1965) provides the basis for, and the International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (‘Apartheid Convention’) (1973) as well as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (‘Rome Statute’) (1998) define, apartheid as an international crime, not as it was practiced in South Africa, but as a system that:  1) denies people’s right to life and liberty; 2) imposes conditions to cause the physical destruction of a racial group; 3) implements measures to prevent a racial group from participating in the political/social/economic/cultural life of society; 4) divides the population along racial lines; 5) exploits  the labour of a particular racial group; and, 6) persecutes organisations and people opposing apartheid.

A 302 page HSRC (www.hsrc.ac.za) study of Israel’s policies found that Israel practices apartheid in the OPT through: a) Extra-judicial killings, torture and a separate legal system; b) Restrictions on the right of full development of Palestinians as a group such as those on their freedom of movement, place of residence, nationality, work, etc.); c) Impeding Palestinians’ education and running a segregated education system; and restricting Palestinians freedom of expression and opinion as well as their freedom of peaceful assembly; and, d) Dividing the West Bank into racial cantons, extensive appropriation of Palestinian land for exclusive Jewish use, arresting, imprisoning, and banning the travel of Palestinians and also targeting Palestinian parliamentarians, national political leaders and human rights defenders.