Status

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.

 

 

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:

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•••• 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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Kairos to SA Government: Cut diplomatic and trade ties with Israel

The role of the South African government is unique in the world, given our country’s history of apartheid. Yet it lags behind in its solidarity with the Palestinians. Kairos Southern Africa asks for urgent, decisive action – not statements – in a formal request to the government of the Republic of South Africa:

KSA

18 July 2014

To: The Honourable Minister of International Relations Ms Maite E Nkoana-Mashabane
CC: The Honourable Mr. H.T Magama, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of International Relations and Cooperation, and the Deputy Director-General for DIRCO c/o Mr Clayson Monyela

Kairos Southern Africa believes that all lives have the same value, and that all violence is destructive. The current and ongoing situation between Israel and Palestine poses a critical test for the international community’s commitment to international law and human dignity.

Any attempt to remain neutral in this kind of conflict is both futile and immoral. Neutrality enables the status quo of oppression to continue. It is a way of giving tacit support to the oppressor. We are not taking sides against the Israeli people, but we unequivocally reject the Israeli regime’s treatment of Palestinians.

The role of the South African government is unique in the world, given our country’s history of apartheid and the ways in which we overcame the institutionalised injustices of this system. Yet to date the South African government has failed to take tangible action in the form of support of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, because of pressure applied by the South African Zionist lobby, which insists on our government’s neutrality when it comes to Israel. As a result, South Africa now lags behind other countries in its solidarity with the oppressed in Palestine.

We see this inactivity as a source of national shame. We of all nations must actively help others who are systemically oppressed. By not responding when we know about the injustices and human rights violations suffered by the Palestinian people, we will be allowing and enabling an act of omission. By responding insufficiently, we will prolong the suffering and the damage.

In line with this endeavour, we ask you to:

  1. Sever all diplomatic and trade ties with the State of Israel.
  2. Implement boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
  3. Implement all the actions called for in the Cape Town Declaration of 6 February 2014.

We recognise the occupation of Palestine by Israel as the primary violent act. Israel uses negotiations and violence to prolong the pain, to intensify the occupation and to confiscate more resources. We condemn it absolutely. Israel’s widespread, ongoing, collective attack on the Palestinian people is a form of institutionalised, systemic violence practised in multiple ways on the besieged Gaza strip and occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank.

The violent resistance by Hamas is understandable, but we do not support it. We do not believe that this violence represents the will of the majority of Palestinians, who ask for active non-violent resistance in the form of boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

We call on you, our government, to do what is honest and just, so that we can be honourable international citizens.

We do not ask you to issue more statements, but to:

  1. Sever all diplomatic and trade ties with the State of Israel and with Israeli institutions and business.
  2. Implement boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
  3. Implement all the actions called for in the Cape Town Declaration of 6 February 2014.

God bless.

 Edwin Arrison (Rev.)
General-secretary

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40 000 join Cape Town protest against Israeli attacks

An estimated 40 000 South Africans poured through central Cape Town on Wednesday 16 July 2014 to Parliament.

Some analysts say that yesterday’s #GazaUnderAttack protest in Cape Town was the biggest protest march since the Anti-Apartheid protests of 1980′s. The peaceful protest was organized by the Muslim Judicial Council, COSATU and others.

march 3The city came to a standstill at lunchtime as marchers handed a memorandum to the chairperson of Parliament’s international relations portfolio committee, Mr. Masango.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMr Masango addressing members of civil society in a meeting in February 2014 with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations.

The huge crowd, which stretched over several city blocks, held aloft scores of banners and posters, calling for an end to the violence in Palestine’s Gaza Strip. “Free, free Palestine!” the protesters chanted outside the parliamentary complex.

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We, the South African civil society want our government to sever all diplomatic and trade ties with Israel and to actively promote and implement boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

 

Gaza: South Africa’s lack of solidarity a “national shame”

The South African government lags behind in its solidarity with Palestine because of pressure applied by the South African Zionist lobby. This inactivity is “a source of national shame” Kairos Southern Africa said at a press statement in Cape Town on 11 July 2014.

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Several civil societies as well as the ANC Youth League tabled their positions and their appeal to the South African government to members of the local and the international press. The joint message was clear:

Any attempt to remain neutral in this kind of conflict is both futile and immoral. Neutrality enables the status quo of oppression to continue. It is a way of giving tacit support to the oppressor. We are not taking sides against the Israeli people, but we unequivocally reject the Israeli regime’s treatment of Palestinians. We want international law to be upheld. Our government must implement BDS actions. An insufficient response will prolong the suffering and the damage. All violence must stop with immediate effect.

Here is Kairos Southern Africa’s full statement:

PRESS RELEASE: Response to Gaza violence
Friday, 11 July 2014
11:00, Cape Town

Kairos Southern Africa believes that all lives have the same value, and that all violence is destructive. The current and ongoing situation between Israel and Palestine poses a critical test for the international community’s commitment to international law and human dignity. In this context, we hold the following position:

  1. The occupation of Palestine by Israel is the primary violent act. We condemn it absolutely. Israel’s widespread, ongoing, collective attack on the Palestinian people is a form of institutionalised, systemic violence practised in multiple ways on the besieged Gaza strip and occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank.
  2. The violent resistance by Hamas is understandable, but we do not support it. We do not believe that this violence represents the will of the majority of Palestinians, who ask for active non-violent resistance in the form of boycotts, divestment and sanctions.
  3. On 10 July, the Palestinian unity government appealed to the United Nations Security Council to enforce International Humanitarian Law.
  4. Many Israelis and the majority of the Palestinian people are exhausted by the ongoing struggle. They want an end to the unbearable and inhumane situation; and they want to live normal, secure and hopeful lives. Therefore, they are calling for help on their governments and the international community to end to the ongoing occupation.
  5. The South African government has failed to take tangible action in the form of support of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, because of pressure applied by the South African Zionist lobby, which insists on the South African government’s neutrality when it comes to Israel. As a result, South Africa now lags behind other countries in its solidarity with the oppressed in Palestine. We see this inactivity as a source of national shame. In the light of our history, we of all nations must actively help others who are systemically oppressed.

We call on the South African government to do what is honest and just, so that we can be honourable international citizens. We do not ask our government to issue more statements, but to implement boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and to take the actions called for in the Cape Town Declaration of 6 February 2014.

The South African government must:

  • Adhere to its legal obligation under the Rome Statute to set up a special court to deal with war crimes, deal expeditiously with the Gaza Docket and with South Africans serving in the Israeli Defence Force.
  • Adopt the HSRC report that found Israeli guilty of Apartheid, and present it to international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and the African Union.
  • Stop financial transactions with Israeli settlement companies, banks, and companies involved in the settlements.
  • Lobby for financial and other support in the global arena for the Palestinians for socioeconomic development after the end of the occupation.
  • Support Palestinian students as a concrete act of solidarity and ease entrance into South Africa for Palestinians.
  • Support health systems infrastructure in Gaza, in the West Bank and in refugee camps.
  • Support the Robben Island Declaration for the freedom of Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian political prisoners.
  • Support the Palestinian-led call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions issued by the majority of Palestinians by implementing complete military, financial and political sanctions against Israel until it complies with all the applicable UN resolutions and International Law, and ends its occupation; and table this matter at both the African Union and the United Nations.
  • Encourage witness and solidarity visits such as the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) programme.
  • Build and strengthen an international diplomatic bloc in solidarity with the Palestinian people, starting with Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS).
  • Campaign for Israel to be suspended from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network.
  • Encourage and support Palestinian reconciliation efforts.

ISSUED BY KAIROS SOUTHERN AFRICA

Kairos Southern Africa is an ecumenical voice on local and international issues of justice from within the broader Christian community. We are connected to Kairos movements worldwide that are all inspired by the liberation theology tabled in the 1985 South African Kairos document. This includes Kairos Palestine and its declaration of steadfast faith, hope and love from within the suffering of Palestinians.

Dr Mitri Raheb: Losing the Sting of Empire

What can unlock victimhood? What can break the cycle of oppression? A visit by a Palestinian theologian to South Africa’s wintery Western Cape gave me some insights.

Dr. Raheb comes from Bethlehem in the West Bank of Palestine – a city under a harsh military rule. Israel’s occupation has a daily effect on the lives of its citizens as minute by minute Israel violates countless human rights laws as opposed to administering the land on behalf, and to the benefit of, the Palestinians as specified by international law. “Occupied” in Bethlehem, as in all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem means “oppressed”. But this is not what I want to talk about.

Did we listen to Raheb because he is the most widely published Palestinian theologian to date? Or because he has received many international awards for his work? We listened to him, almost spellbound, but for different reasons. He was invited by the Centre of Christian Spirituality and Kairos Southern Africa to conduct the third Steve de Gruchy memorial lecture in Cape Town, and also held talks at Stellenbosch University and at  the University of the Western Cape. He visited the construction site of the Palestinian Museum – a first for the world, preached to an Anglican congregation in Athlone and shared a meal with members of Cape Town’s Jewish Board of Deputies and some members of the Muslim and Christian communities.

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328Raheb (left) in conversation with Dr Anwah Naggia (right) at the building site of the world’s first Palestine Museum. The panels in this representation of the Israeli Wall are precise replicas of the originals in the Israeli Wall. They were erected on Saturday, 7 June 2014 in Cape Town.

Why be spell-bound if he sketched a situation where all seems lost? Almost everything is taken by Israel whilst the world powers keep silent. Hope seems almost gone. Israelis and Palestinians have failed to achieve the state project on which they worked so hard to achieve. That is, if they are frank with themselves. The Israeli apartheid system, the Palestinian mini-state in Gaza and the ‘Palestinians ‘holes in the cheese’ of the West Bank are not the dream for which people fought. It is necessary to admit this hard and painful truth and to start looking for new models of co-existence. (Raheb 2014:84). Many of us are already familiar with this depressing story.

And yet….

The art of survival and starting anew is a highly developed from of expression in Palestine, and one I see daily. People’s lives, businesses, and education are interrupted by wars and the aftermath of wars over and over again, and yet I witness people refusing to give up, taking a deep breath, and beginning again. Logically, it is foolish, and yet there is deep wisdom in such a course of action. I’m often asked by visitors how I can keep going…..The answer to that is not psychological but theological: There is no way to understand and face the status quo but at the logic of God. (Raheb 2014:89)

To have a political solution that entails full and equal citizenship for Palestinians in a state where their rights and dignity are protected and valued, is a long overdue and a practical necessity he argues. But the question “When will we have a state?” is by far not the only one. More important is to envisage what will bring peace and dignity that outlasts any empire or any state. This answer he finds in his interpretation of the Bible. Although Raheb explains his perspective in Christian terms, I would like to think that the principles may also apply to those from other faith traditions who aspire to human dignity.

Through his interpretation of the Bible, Raheb transcends victimhood. By not defining defeat by the empire as the ultimate defeat, the sting is gone and a new beginning is possible. To Raheb Jesus’ mission was to restore a sense of community and to empower people to become ambassadors of his much wider kingdom. This is the territory we should aspire to! Such healing of the self, on a very deep level of existential belonging, is the very thing that creates space within oneself and for others. If we have enough space to both receive and give grace, we can stop the vicious cycle of oppression.

324This statue at the University of the Western Cape depicts the joy and pride of a mother (a domestic worker) at the graduation of her son. It is symbol of defeating systemic oppression (apartheid).

It is almost impossible to convey all that he said in a few words here. If you decide to order his latest book Faith in the Face of Empire, you will not be disappointed. It is available on Amazon and on Kalahari (for South Africans).

More about Dr Raheb:

I first met him in April 2011 when he formed part of the Kairos Palestine delegation that launched the Afrikaans version of their statement: A Moment of Truth and in December 2012 I listened to his address at the Kairos for Global Justice conference. His publications include 16 books of which the latest Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible through Palestinian Eyes (2014, Maryknoll: Orbis Books) is a challenging view of how the reality of empire shapes the context of the biblical story and the ongoing experience of Middle East conflict.

Dr. Raheb’s work has received wide media attention from major international media including CNN, ABC, CBS, 60 Minutes, BBC, ARD, ZDF, DW, BR, Premiere, Raiuno, Stern, The Economist, Newsweek, and Vanity Fair. He has also received several awards for his work. For his interfaith work towards peace in Israel-Palestine he received the “International Mohammad Nafi Tschelebi Peace Award” of the Central Islam Archive in Germany (2006); for his ‘distinguished service to church and society’ the Wittenberg Award from the Luther Centre (2003); and for his ‘outstanding contribution to Christian education through research and publication’ an honorary doctorate from Concordia University in Chicago (2003).

Dr. Raheb is the President of Diyar Consortium and of Dar al-Kalima University College in Bethlehem, as well as the president of the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land in addition to being the Senior Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Palestine.

Dutch Reformed Church leader speaks up on Israel-Palestine

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Says Dr Braam Hanekom, Vice Moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church – the institution that once supported South African apartheid:

“(T)he majority of ordinary people, both Israelis and Palestinians, are sick and tired of the conflict and want to move on.”

This follows after the last South African president under undemocratic rule, Dr FW de Klerk, warned that Israel risks heading toward complete apartheid.

In an opinion article in the Jerusalem Post published on Thursday 12 June 2014, Dr Hanekom shared some of his impressions after a recent visit to Israel and the West Bank of Palestine. It was his second visit to the area. In December 2012 he formed part of a delegation of senior clergy that also visited Palestine and Israel. At the time Dr Hanekom commented as follows:

“It was a tremendous privilege to visit Palestine in this time of Advent. I am more convinced than before that the non-violent alternative of faith, hope and love that the Palestinian Christians show us is the way forward.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHanekom (far left), listening to a human rights attorney talking on the circumstances of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons.

When FW de Klerk warned about apartheid in Israel, Mohammed Madani, a senior Palestinian official in charge of outreach to Israeli society said:

“When the leader of the former apartheid regime in South Africa warns Israel of going down the road to this style, it should listen to him carefully because he knows what he is talking about.”

I am keen to hear how you perceive the following article by Dr Hanekom:

Israel and Palestine: Is there a way forward – A South African perspective
By BRAAM HANEKOM
06/12/2014 21:41

After 20 years of democracy in South Africa, I still see the psychological scars of the struggle. I recognize similar patterns in Israel and Palestine.
Finding a solution is not the end of a problem but the key to a new and sometimes difficult journey… but then a journey with hope.

It is always difficult and dangerous to try to be a prophet and broker a peace process after a relatively short exposure to any conflict. Recent political developments also filled many people with despair about the future. So let me first clarify my position: I don’t want to be a judge and I have been part of enough conversations to understand how difficult and dangerous it becomes when you engage in tit for tat arguments on who is right or wrong. Although I do have some very concrete ideas on the way forward, I am not a politician and would therefore refrain from giving any detailed ideas on policies and strategies. What I would like to do, is to give a South African perspective on some personal observations and maybe one or two long term strategies.

After 20 years of democracy in South Africa, I still see the psychological scars of the struggle. I could not help but recognize similar patterns in Israel and Palestine.

It already looks ominous and is of great concern to me. One must understand that irrespective of the political solutions that are found, the real healing will take place on a humane and psychological level.

I may be wrong, but as an outsider, it seems to me that the majority of ordinary people, both Israelis and Palestinians, are sick and tired of the conflict and want to move on. Unfortunately they are held hostage by politicians and extremists. I wonder what the result of a free referendum would be, even though some people would argue that such a referendum is impossible.

I believe however that we must immediately start an extensive process of dialogue between a younger generation of Palestinians and Israelis. That does not mean that any political process must be stopped or delayed. Many years ago, believe it or not, there were similar initiatives in SA that were stopped by the Nationalist Party government! Surely international funds could be made available for such an initiative. A new generation of Palestinians and Jews must be educated to live with a new and more positive understanding of one another.

In SA we have a saying that racism is like “knowledge in the blood.” Children grew up with it. Intervention must come at an early age. But how on earth will they learn to love one another if they are not allowed to meet with one another? Furthermore, I believe that the Israeli education system and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) who receive international money to help build the Palestine education system, must be monitored very carefully for any ideas or material that might fuel wrong and dangerous perceptions of the other.

I believe that the UN must immediately create a Human Rights Commission / watchdog tasked to monitor any form of hate speech and bring that to the attention of the international community. In SA this has become the norm of the day. Those individuals who continue with their hate speech are our real enemies.

Maybe the most important thing to realize is that neither a one state solution nor a two-state solution will solve anything if the two nations do not reconcile with one another. Their lives are too intertwined and they live in too close proximity to think that a mere separation or a one man, one vote democracy will solve the problem. I have heard the word “reconciliation” not enough during my visits. It will have to become part of the daily rhetoric.

In South Africa, we still continue to work on reconciliation on a daily basis. I firmly believe that Israel and Palestine are home to enough God-fearing Jews and Muslim people who understand the principle of human dignity and mutual respect. May we bring them together and rally them for the common good of everyone living in Israel and Palestine.

Dr. Braam Hanekom is the vice moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa. It is a church with a million members which once supported Apartheid, but has since then made some radical changes and is currently working industriously on healing, restoration and reconciliation. Dr. Hanekom recently visited both the West Bank and Israel.

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We are not happy with South Africa’s politicians

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Leaders of South Africa’s Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities have called on their followers to join a “Procession of Witness” from District Six to Parliament on Saturday 19 April 2014 to demand:

“A change in the practice and behaviour of all parliamentarians, captains of industry and commerce; and

“That all those, in all sectors of society, who have influence and power, return to Nelson Mandela’s way of governance and leadership: governance that was not threatened by healthy social discourse; governance that was always mindful of the plight of the poor and the marginalized; governance that took seriously its responsibility to all people who have given leaders their trust.”

When Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town announced the procession, he was supported by Maulana Abdul-Khaliq Allie, secretary-general of the Muslim Judicial Council, and Christian leaders including the national moderator of the Uniting Reforming Church of Southern Africa and president of the World Council of Churches, the Revd Dr Mary-Anne Plaatjies-van Huffel.

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The Union of Orthodox Synagogues also sent a message of support, as did the Western Cape moderator of the Ned Geref Kerk, Dr. Braam Hanekom.

in defense of the role of the Public Protector and to express their concern over other issues affecting Cape Town communities.

The procession will begin at 10 am on Saturday at Keizersgracht, District Six.

Archbishop Makgoba said that “while the Procession is open to all, including members of political parties, it will be led by religious leaders and no party political banners will be permitted.”

The Procession route, from Keizergracht in District Six to Parliament, is quite short so it should be possible for most people with moderate levels of fitness to participate. The maximum time for the entire event should be three hours, but it is likely to be less than this.

Other Christian leaders who joined the call included Bishop Michel Hansrod, head of the Cape district of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa; Bishop Margaret Vertue of the Anglican Diocese of False Bay; the Revd Lucas Plaatjie, moderator of the Cape synod of the Uniting Reforming Church; the Revd Michael Muller, moderator of the Presbytery of the Western Cape of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa; and Dr Johan Botha, scribe of the Uniting Reformed Church.

The full text of Archbishop Makgoba’s statement follows:

Some weeks ago, a number of us gathered on the steps of St George’s Cathedral where our predecessors stood during the apartheid era. There we stood in silence under the banner, “A Flower for Thuli, A Message for the President”, referring to the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, and her report on the upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla.

Our placards called on the president to respond to the Public Protector’s report and on the public to defend our “Chapter Nine” institutions – the independent institutions set up under the South African Constitution to guard our democracy.

Speaking in the Cathedral afterwards, I voiced my yearning for the entire faith-based and NGO community to come together not so much to defend the Public Protector as an individual as to defend the rights of the public and the integrity of her office, which appears to be under assault from forces including many members of Parliament.

After wider consultations led by the Dean, we have decided to pluck up the courage that the times demand of us and to invite the people of Cape Town to join us on a Procession of Witness from District Six to Parliament, with the aim of calling upon our leaders to live up to the national values established by the Constitution.

Although this is primarily a response to the crisis in government presented by the worrying developments surrounding the Chapter Nine institutions and especially those concerning the Office of the Public Protector, we are also responding to the plight of communities ravaged by gangsterism, drug abuse and poor education.

And while the Procession is open to all, including members of political parties, it will be led by religious leaders and no party political banners will be permitted.

We, the faith community, confess our silence over many years, and our failure to respond compassionately to God’s cry in the lives of the people of our land — especially those who are poor, naked and those denied their daily bread.

Our Procession is now being held to demand:

  • A change in the practice and behaviour of all parliamentarians, captains of industry and commerce;
  • That all those, in all sectors of society, who have influence and power, return to Nelson Mandela’s way of governance and leadership: governance that was not threatened by healthy social discourse; governance that was always mindful of the plight of the poor and the marginalized; governance that took seriously its responsibility to all people who have given leaders their trust.

We invite you to gather with us on Saturday, 9 April 2014 at 10am on Kaizergracht Street, District Six (below St. Mark’s Church) for our Procession of Witness to Parliament.

witness

Status

Invitation: Miko Peled 10 – 16 March, South Africa

peled Please join us for a talk by Miko Peled, the well known Israeli peace activist and author, during South Africa’s Israeli Apartheid Week:

JOHANNESBURG
EVENT:
Israeli Apartheid Week Opening Event
DATE: Monday, 10 March 2014
TIME: 19h00
VENUE: Protea Hotel Auditorium, School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH), Bunting Road Campus, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park

STELLENBOSCH
EVENT:
Book discussion with Miko Peled and Breyten Breytenbach
DATE: Tuesday, 11 March 2014
TIME: 12h50

VENUE: Faculty Chapel, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch
SPECIAL GUEST: Afrikaans poet, academic and anti-apartheid activist Breyten Breytenbach

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CAPE TOWN
EVENT:
Resisting from within, fighting oppression done in your name
DATE: Tuesday, 11 March 2014
TIME: 18h00
VENUE: RW James Building Lecture Theatre B, University of Cape Town

GRAHAMSTOWN
EVENT: Discussion with the author
DATE: Thursday, 13 March 2014
TIME: 17h00
VENUE: Humanities Seminar Room, Rhodes University, Grahamstown

DURBAN
EVENT:
Book discussion
DATE: Friday, 14 March 2014
TIME: 18h00

VENUE: Women’s Cultural Group Centre, Mariam Bee Sultan, 222 Kenilworth Road, Overport, Durban

PRETORIA
EVENT: Breakfast and Discussion With the Author
DATE: Saturday, 15 March 2014
TIME: 09h30
TICKET PRICE: R200 (this Pretoria event is a paid event, please contact 0735004036)

Find more information on Miko Peled’s South African Book Tour here: www.facebook.com/events/597059117046154/

For more information, comment or to arrange an interview with Miko Peled contact Muhammed Desai on 0842119988

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Miko Peled

In 1997, a tragedy struck the family of Miko Peled: His beloved niece Smadar was killed in Palestinian political violence in Jerusalem. His sister, Nurit Peled-Elhanan, reacted –according to some– “unusually” to the tragic death of her daughter. As a mother, she did not call for revenge or blame the Palestinians but the Israeli occupation policy of the Israeli governments.

That tragedy and his sister’s response propelled Peled into a journey of discovery. It pushed him to re-examine many of the beliefs he had grown up with, as the son and grandson of leading figures in Israel’s political-military elite, and transformed him into a courageous and visionary activist in the struggle for human rights and a hopeful, lasting, just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Miko Peled’s father was was the well known General Mattiyahu “Matti Peled” – a prominent general who turned after the Israel’s “war of aggression” in 1967, into an advocate of peace.

Miko Peled is a former Israeli soldier himself (having trained in Israel’s Special Forces) and has written in a June 2012 Los Angeles Times article that “Israel is faced with two options: Continue to exist as a Jewish state while controlling the Palestinians through military force and racist laws, or undertake a deep transformation into a real democracy where Israelis and Palestinians live as equals in a shared state, their shared homeland. For Israelis and Palestinians alike, the latter path promises a bright future.”

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ABOUT THE BOOK – “The Israeli Army General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine”

Miko Peled, in his book, combines the exceptional history of his family, the political development of the State of Israel and his personal conversion to a fundamental critic of the policy of the different Israeli governments. Peled has described his 2012 book, “The Israeli Army General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine” as an account of how he, “the son of an Israeli General and a staunch Zionist, came to realize that “the story upon which I was raised … was a lie.” The book, he has said, is based largely on long conversations with his mother, on a thorough reading of “everything my dad had ever written,” and on material about his father’s career in the Israeli army archives.

The book, which has been characterized as “part confessional, part cinematic epic and part emotional appeal for ‘different answers’ to the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum,” contains a moving foreword by Alice Walker, well known African American author of “The Color Purple”. Walker write: “The journey that Peled traces in this groundbreaking memoir echoed the trajectory taken 40 years earlier by his father, renowned Israeli general Matti Peled. In “The General’s Son,” Miko Peled tells us about growing up in Jerusalem in the heart of the group that ruled the then-young country, Israel. He takes us with him through his service in the country’s military and his subsequent global travels… and then, after his niece’s killing, back into the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. The book provides a compelling and intimate window into the fears that haunt both peoples– but also into the real courage of all those who, like Miko Peled, have been pursuing a steadfast grassroots struggle for equality for all the residents of the Holy Land.”

FURTHER INFORMATION


Recent Article by Peled

http://electronicintifada.net/content/wake-john-kerry-global-intifada-erupting/12964

Videos of Miko Peled
www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOaxAckFCuQ
www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEV8DuBUfI4
www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4ZfnpN4Dfc&list=PLL9k0-nVbeO_jGxjI9Z-INdXu_3KyMzBL

Book Review of Miko Peled’s “The Israeli Army General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine”
http://electronicintifada.net/content/book-review-miko-peled-sets-record-straight-palestines-dispossession/11950

“The Israeli Army General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine”
– Exclusive Books: http://tinyurl.com/nwkslck
– Kalahari: www.kalahari.com/Books/The-General-s-Son_p_44486412
– Amazon (as a Paperback or eBook/Kindle): www.amazon.com/The-Generals-Son-Journey-Palestine/dp/193598215X

FOR MORE INFORMATION, COMMENT OR TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR:
IAW South Africa National Convenor, Muhammed Desai: +27 (0) 842119988

ISSUED BY KWARA KEKANA, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON OF “ISRAELI APARTHEID WEEK SOUTH AFRICA TEAM”
Tel: +27 (0) 72 449 1774
Email: iawsouthafrica@apartheidweek.org
Twitter: www.twitter.com/iawsouthafrica
Facebook: www.facebook.com/iawsouthafrica
Website: www.bdssouthafrica.com/2011/02/israeli-apartheid-week.html or www.apartheidweek.org