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:

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

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

peled 4
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

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

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

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

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:

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

peled 2


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.”

peled 3

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.”


Recent Article by Peled

Videos of Miko Peled

Book Review of Miko Peled’s “The Israeli Army General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine”

“The Israeli Army General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine”
– Exclusive Books:
– Kalahari:
– Amazon (as a Paperback or eBook/Kindle):

IAW South Africa National Convenor, Muhammed Desai: +27 (0) 842119988

Tel: +27 (0) 72 449 1774
Website: or


South African Churches urged to Pray for Peace on 16 March


Many South African Christians do not know how Israel oppresses Palestinian Christians. Said the new leadership of the South African Council of Churches on 26.02.2014:

“…we urge churches to campaign for greater awareness on all Palestinian struggles in general and the plight of Palestinian Christians in particular. We also request churches to dedicate Sunday services on March 16th during the upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) campaign to reflect and pray for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel.”

Let us pray for both the oppressed and the oppressor. Let us ask to be enthused with wisdom and love when we speak up and act on behalf of the Palestinians. Let us ask to be guided to bridge the divide between people.

The SACC’s new leadership includes Bishop Z. Siwa as the new President of the SACC,  Dr Frank Chikane as the Senior Vice President and Father Michael Lapsley as Vice President:

zipho siwa

Bishop Siwa is Presiding Bishop (president) of the Methodist Church. He preached at former President Mandela’s funeral in Qunu where Mandela’s body was laid  to rest.

frank chikane

Rev. Frank Chikane is well known in the local and international evangelical community.

michael lapsley

Fr. Michael Lapsley’s work in healing of memories in post-apartheid South Africa is well known internationally. His arms were blown off in letter bomb in the 1980’s when he was chaplain in the ANC in Harare.

I congratulate the new leadership of the SACC and I believe that with this group, we start a new era. I also hold them in my prayers. May they be blessed with the necessary vision, the energy, the wisdom and the support in taking on the huge challenges in South Africa and abroad.


Here is their full statement:

South African Council of Churches Triennial Conference Statement

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) held its Triennial Conference from the 25-26th February at the Willow Park Lodge under the theme “God of Life: Renew, Restore and Transform us for the service of Your Kingdom.” The SACC Conference drew inspiration and hope from the key text found in Isaiah 43:19: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland”, as it reflected on the state of the nation, the economy and the SACC.

On reflecting on the state of the nation, we give thanks and praise to Almighty God for the changes in our country since the birth of our democratic South Africa some 20 years ago. We recognise with thanksgiving and gratitude the many positive things that have been accomplished in these past years. We also, regrettably, express our concern that still much more must be achieved in the areas of education, health and social transformation. We were hoping that President Jacob Zuma would have used the opportunity in his recent State of the Nation Address to unfold a vision and action plan to address these issues as we move into the future but we were left somewhat disappointed that this was not the case. We are deeply concerned about the ever increasing corruption, service delivery protests and the unrest and violence it is bringing upon our land. Particularly disheartening is the fact that innocent people are dying at the hands of those who are supposed to care for them.

We are really concerned about the safety of our children as we observe the increasing numbers of rape, sexual abuse and murders of innocent little ones. We are deeply alarmed by the rising cultic and satanic practices, rituals and killings that seem to attract our youth. We realise that the context in which we do mission and ministry as churches has become a moral challenge. Hence we call on church leaders to not wait for government alone to address these matters but to seriously engage and address these on the ground.

On reflecting on the state of the economy, we express our deep concern over the widening gap between the rich and the poor in South Africa. We are therefore not surprised by the strikes and protests emerging from the mines and other sectors of business and society. Inequalities in society are bound to lead to social instability and this is what we are seeing daily in our country. Added to this is the escalating rate of unemployment and the struggles young people are encountering to find decent jobs. Resources are a gift from God for all and not just a few. We call on our churches to proclaim this biblical message as we seek to address the inequalities and economic discrepancies in our country, especially as we focus on the needs of the poor. We hope and pray that the latter would be seriously factored into Budget Speech of the Minister of Finance. We thus call for a fresh social dialogue on the trajectory of the political economy of our country.

The Conference also recognised that on the 7th May 2014 South Africa will hold its next General Elections. We take joy in the report of the IEC that more people have registered to vote than ever before and this includes 1.2 million new young voters. We encourage all those who have the right to vote to exercise it in the interest of our democracy and the development of our country. We call on all political leaders and parties to restrain from acts of violence and to refrain from endeavours to make certain areas as “no go areas” for other political parties to campaign. Indeed, we call upon churches to pray for, and participate at all cost to ensure that the elections are peaceful, free and fare.

The Conference also heard about the situation in Palestine and Israel and called for all parties concerned to work towards a just peace and reiterated our solidarity and support for all those working towards this goal. We urge churches to campaign for greater awareness on all Palestinian struggles in general and the plight of Palestinian Christians in particular. We also request churches to dedicate Sunday services on March 16th during the upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) campaign to reflect and pray for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel.

Against this background and in keeping with its theme, the Conference entered into a process in which it looked at the role and value of the SACC today, what it could do to renew, restore and transform the organisation, and the value Member Churches and partners could bring to the work and life of the SACC. This exercise injected a strong positive response and commitment of churches to the work of the SACC and created a new found spirit and joy to make it a formidable and strong organisation again.

All the material collected from the SACC conference will be processed, analysed and sent to the participants by the new SACC National Executive Committee with the intention of paving a new direction for the SACC which is expected to also impact on its future operational, management and organisational structures. We call on all our member churches and ecumenical partners to continue to pray for the renewal, restoration and transformation of the SACC and to also visibly and financially commit themselves to the work, life and witness of the SACC. We need to be in relationship with one another. We need to meet, pray together, listen to God and go out into the world to be His presence.

The Conference elected Bishop Z. Siwa as the new President of the SACC and Dr Frank Chikane was elected as the Senior Vice President and Father Michael Lapsley as Vice President. A new Executive Committee (NEC) was elected and would duly continue the work of the SACC. May we keep them in our constant prayers as we continue to pray, God of Life: Renew, Restore and Transform us for the service of Your Kingdom.”



REV. DR JERRY PILLAY: 0827193532

VUYANI PULE: 0822113285 / 0112417808 

Khotso House, 62 Marshall Street, Johannesburg, South Africa
P.O Box 62098, Marshalltown, 2107, South Africa

Invitation: South African Parliament on Palestine, Cuba, Western Sahara

Members of the public are welcome to attend the South African Parliament’s Solidarity Conference in support of the people of Palestine, Cuba, Western Sahara on Thursday, 6 February, 8:30 – 17:30 in the Good Hope Chamber, Plein Street, Parliament of SA, Cape Town.


According to the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Co-operation who organises the event, the purpose is:

‘To produce an “action-oriented declaration for a Parliamentary Plan of Action taking the solidarity movement forward towards a peaceful resolution of the challenges facing the three nations.”

The conference will be attended by the Ambassadors of the respective countries, prominent academics, civil society and other relevant stakeholders.


1. Plenary session: “Parliament of South Africa: Fostering solidarity to build a just and better world”.

 2. Break-away groups to discuss the challenges and to formulate resolutions

  • Cuba:Asserting the right of the people of Cuba to a meaningful and unfettered trade and a call for the release of the Cuban Five.”
  • Palestine: “Intensifying the struggle for self-determination and efforts to bring about a lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
  • Western Sahara: “Liberation of Western Sahara, Ending colonialism in Africa.”

 3. Lunch

 4. Plenary session: Formulation of the declaration for action


  • It is best to arrive half an hour early to sign in. You enter Parliament at Plein Street at the Visitors Centre to register for the day. Please bring your ID book/driver’s license for identification.
  • There is public paid parking on the top floors of Plein Park, a building on Plein Street: you go up Plain Street (towards the mountain), turn first left into Barrack Street, and then again first left – you then enter Plein Park parking garages.

You do not have to RSVP but can simply arrive. My colleagues and I from Kairos Southern Africa sincerely hope to see you there.


From Robben Island: Palestinian Political Prisoners

Where better to launch an international campaign for the release of all Palestinian political prisoners than on Robben Island?


This windswept island south of Cape Town persistently reminds me of immense cruelty, injustice and oppression… but also of perseverance, of an undying dream of freedom, of the ability of human beings to stand tall in the most horrendous circumstances.


Before sentencing him, the judge in South Africa’s Rivonia Trail (1963 – 1964) asked the man who would become the new South Africa’s first president, Nelson Mandela, whether he wanted to plead guilty.  Mandela answered: “It is not I who should plead guilty, but the government of this country.”  Mandela and seven others (and in the subsequent years, hundreds more) were found guilty and banned for life to Robben Island.

In reading Mandela’s epic autobiography I was deeply touched by his and his fellow prisoners’ continued struggle against apartheid within prison. Their life on the island was to them yet another terrain to advocate against discrimination. It was not only the story, but especially the tone that inspired me and made me realise how much I have to learn about courage, tolerance, persistence and forgiveness.

I had this same feeling on Sunday 27 October 2013 when the wife of Marwan Barghouti read a letter he wrote to us from prison….


Our boat left the Cape Town harbour early that morning for Robben Island.


We were on our way to the launch of the international Campaign for the Freedom of Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian Political Prisoners.


The guests included representatives from NGOs, human rights organisations, trade unions, political parties, former South African anti-apartheid activists and 13 Palestinian dignitaries.


Ahmed (Kathy) Kathrada, one of Mandela’s closest friends and comrades, was one of eight ANC members convicted and banned to Robben Island for life during the Rivonia Trail.


Now, half a century later, the 84-year-old Kathrada launched the campaign for the iconic freedom fighter, Marwan Barghouti (54), commonly dubbed “Palestine’s Mandela”.


Mrs Fadwa Barghouthi, the wife of Marwan Barghouthi read a moving letter from her husband addressed to us, the audience at the launch, in which he appealed for non-violent resistance.


Marwan Barghouti is one of the first (and most popular) Palestinian Members of Parliament arrested and imprisoned by Israel. He was abducted in 2002 by the Israeli army and thereafter tried, convicted and sentenced to five life sentences.

At his trial in 2002, Barghouti refused to participate in its proceedings maintaining that his abduction and the Israeli trial were illegal and illegitimate. In 2011 the international Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) found that his abduction, arrest and transfer to Israeli territory was in violation of international law.


The IPU, together with other international human rights organisations, have subsequently called for his immediate release.


One day, Barghouti and all Palestinians will be free.


May that day arrive soon.


It is possible…

It is possible at least sometimes…

It is possible especially now

To ride a horse

Inside a prison cell

And run away…

It is possible for prison walls

To disappear,

For the cell to become a distant land

Without frontiers:

What did you do with the walls?

I gave them back to the rocks.

And what did you do with the


I turned it into a saddle.

And your chain?

I turned it into a pencil.

The prison guard got angry.

He put an end to the dialogue.

He said he didn’t care for poetry,

And bolted the door of my cell.

He came back to see me

In the morning.

He shouted at me:

Where did all this water come from?

I brought it from the Nile.

And the trees?

From the orchards of Damascus.

And the music?

From my heartbeat.

The prison guard got mad.

He put an end to my dialogue.

He said he didn’t like my poetry,

And bolted the door of my cell.

But he returned in the evening:

Where did this moon come from?

From the nights of Baghdad.

And the wine?

From the vineyards of Algiers.

And this freedom?

From the chain you tied me with

last night.

The prison guard grew so sad…

He begged me to give him back

His freedom.

“Prison cell”, by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008)


As with the “Free Mandela” campaign, this international campaign is not about the release of one man.


Barghouti is one of over 5 000 Palestinian political prisoners who remain incarcerated in Israeli jails, many of them children. Almost every Palestinian family has been affected by the political imprisonment of a relative.

  • Roughly 40% of Palestinian men (over 750 000 Palestinians) have been imprisoned by Israel at one point in time.
  • About 100 000 Palestinians have been held by Israel in “administrative detention” (the equivalent of Apartheid South Africa’s “Detention without trial”).
  • In the last 11 years alone, more than 7500 Palestinian children have been detained in Israeli prisons and detention facilities (including being held in solitary confinement). Such practices are considered illegal under international law.




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:


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 ( 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.


New Film Peels Layers of Truth: Invitation, Cape Town

You are invited to a screening of and conversation on The Village Under the Forest at 6.30pm on Tuesday, 8 April at Hiddingh Campus, UCT. It is part of St Georges Cathedral, District Six Museum and Michaelis School of Fine Arts series of conversations “Victim: No Resurrection?”


I used to be convinced that I cannot direct reality and I was very sure that I was right.  Life happens…people fall ill and die, nature creates havoc and nations are at war. 


But how do we remember things? This is one of the questions a new documentary asks. What if we (as individuals and as humanity) are accountable for how we shape the past, the present and the future….and how we define “truth”? 



A brilliant new film on Israel/Palestine offers so much more than excellent information from an intimate perspective. Besides winning the Audience Award for Best South African film in 2013 at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival, the film leads perceptions on Israel-Palestine away from division and towards hope. 

It is the story of a South African Jewish woman told bravely and without trampling on the humanity of anyone.   I have seen many great films on Israel-Palestine, but this one offers a perspective we urgently need.  It is a film that should be seen by all South Africans, by all Jewish people, and by the international community.


The Village Under the Forest is about making sense, and about finding meaning and a way forward.  It reflects inner strength and compels the viewer to ask his or her own questions.

On a symbolic level, we all walk through our own “forests” in life.  In this film, there is a real forest of trees – but not a natural one.  It is one that was deliberately planted to hide the remains of the Palestinian village of Lubya.  Lubya was one of the more than 500 Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel in 1948.

refugees near tulkarem, summer 1948

The purposefully cultivated plantation called South Africa Forest attempts to hide the past in the name of green ecology.  But now it is revealed for all to see.

The intimately personal perspective combined with scholarly input from Israelis raise questions on how we (as individuals and as members of a global society) deal with our own “forests” – and this one.

sa forest

In the words of Director and Emmy-winner Mark J Kaplan and the writer and narrator Heidi Grunebaum:

By using the forest and the village ruins as metaphors, the film explores themes related to the erasure and persistence of memory. Moreover, the film imagines a future in which dignity, acknowledgement and co-habitation become shared possibilities in Israel/Palestine.

View the trailer here.

According to BDS South Africa,

(t)he film also explores the role of the controversial Israeli-parastatal, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), in building a forest (the “South Africa Forest“) over the Israeli-destroyed Palestinian village of Lubya. Israel and its supporters celebrates the JNF for its forest building work, however, human rights activists critisize the JNF for its involvement in the Israeli oppression and “ethnic-cleansing” against the indigenous Palestinian people, and specifically the construction of forests above Israeli-destroyed Palestinian villages in an attempt to erase all traces of Palestinian life. (See also the Mail&Guardian newspaper review).

After watching The Village Under The Forest, Ismail Coovadia, South Africa’s former ambassador to Israel, announced he will be returning the Jewish National Fund certificate he received and requesting that the trees the JNF planted in his name be removed. The story’s been covered all over the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Electronic Intifada.



Press statement: Jewish South Africans during Pesach/Passover


South African Jewish people reflect on their own freedom versus those of others as they are about to prepare for the Passover of 2013:

The festival of Pesach (Passover); our freedom is unfulfilled while others are oppressed

25 March 2013 / 14 Nisan 5773

As Jewish people around the world prepare for the festival of Pesach (Passover) that commences this evening (Monday 25 March), Stop The Jewish National Fund (StopTheJNF South Africa) would like to wish all who hold dear the values of freedom, liberation and justice a “Chag Kosher v’Sameach”

While Jewish families around the world recall the enslavement of our ancestors, we recognise that celebrations of freedom will always be tainted by bitter tears when there are people who remain oppressed. Members of StopTheJNF South Africa are particularly pained that since the establishment of Israel in 1948, Jewish people will be celebrating ‘freedom’ whilst complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people. Further we recognise that our own authentic freedom will remain unfulfilled while the  Palestinians are denied theirs. In this light, as Jews of conscience, we will continue to speak out against injustices committed by Israel in our name: the brutal siege of Gaza and an occupation of Palestinian lands which sees the ongoing dispossession, humiliation and brutalisation of the Palestinians.

We also note the suffering of the Syrian people who are being butchered in a savage civil war, the murder and rape of countless women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the deprivations of the Tibetan people denied their national and religious rights by China – these are just some instances of the denial of basic freedoms which we condemn and will remember as part of our Pesach celebrations.

Allan Horwitz for “StopTheJNF South Africa”. StopTheJNF South Africa is an organization initiated by Jewish South Africans committed to justice and rights for the Palestinian people and Jewish Israelis.

For more information, contact StopTheJNF National Spokesperson, Allan Horwitz:

082 512 8188

Press statement: SABC/SAFM cancellation of programme with Prof Qumisyeh


13 March 2013


 The Palestine Solidarity Campaign notes that the SABC and SAFM arranged to present a phone-in programme and debate between a distinguished visiting Palestinian activist, Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh, and a representative from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), who undertook to present the Zionist perspective on Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. This was to have taken place just after the 9h00 news on SAfm on Tuesday 12 March 2013.

At the last minute, after having originally agreed to take part, the SAJBD withdrew its agreement and refused to participate. The programme was immediately cancelled by the SABC on the grounds that the SAJBD had been invited to ensure “balance” and that, following the withdrawal of those who would put the Zionist perspective, this “balance” no longer existed.

This is not the first time that Zionists have used this tactical ploy to silence those who disagree with them. In order to do this, it is of course necessary that the public platform would be provided by someone who sympathised with the Zionists and who thus could be trusted to play their shabby game with them. The obvious intention is to violate the constitutional right to the freedom of expression, freedom of the press and other media, and the freedom to receive or impart information or ideas while at the same time claiming to be seeking “balance”.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is completely unafraid to confront Zionists in any public debate – a debate which the SAJBD is clearly desperate to avoid. We believe that their evasive tactics further highlight the parallels between apartheid and Zionism. These are apparent at every turn and stone.

On its part, the SAJBD reveals itself – yet again – to be too craven to face in public, in front of an open microphone, or in any other form or venue those who wish to present the reasons why Zionism and the Zionist policies of Israel are racist, oppressive, and a violation of the fundamental human rights of the Palestinians.

Moreover, the action of withdrawing from a programme it agreed to take part in is itself a clear political statement. The SAJBD has had to rely on the SABC to provide it with cover to skulk behind, even though by its own act the SAJBD has itself forfeited any right to a claim of “balance”.

Further, the SABC is revealed as having not yet freed itself from its squalid role as the apologist for, and would-be sanitiser of, apartheid. It used to make the same bogus claim to “balance” when silencing those who opposed what the whole world condemned as a crime against humanity – just as it has now done in the case of Zionism.

None of this is surprising. In 2007 the SABC and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies entered into a formal ageement which – in summary – empowered the SAJBD to censor how the SABC presented affairs concerning the Middle East.

Racism in general, and Zionism in particular, cannot cope with the searchlight of democracy. The SAJBD is seeking to protect itself from being exposed by its critics, and thereby to sanitise Israel by attempting to subvert rights protected by the South African constitution. One of the most visible victims is the SABC itself, which is content to render meaningless in practice what it claims to be its editorial policies in its published Editorial Code. We point to statements it makes to the effect that it avoids promoting discrimination in its programmes on the grounds of political persuasion, and that it seeks balance by presenting relevant views on matters of importance.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign condemns the cancellation of the interview with Proof. Mazin, and demands that the SABC honour the obligations and duties it boasts of.


Contacts for further comment:

 Martin Jansen 0828702025 or Mercia Andrews 0823683429


Qumisyeh’s Peace Plan/ South African public broadcaster cancels interview


“What is your Peace Plan?” they asked Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh.  His answer consisted of four words.

On Monday 11 March 2013 Qumsiyeh’s public talk in Stellenbosch started by mentioning his own interwoven family history with ties to people in various cultures and religious groups – including Jewish links.


Mazin is an American citizen. Five years ago he returned to Palestine where he now plays an active role in civil society in addition to his academic career in genetics and zoology.

When asked what his “Peace Plan” is, he said it consists of four words:


I couldn’t agree more.

In the end one would hope for HUMAN DIGNITY too.

After his talk at the Faculty of Theology (and the great introductory talk by Bonga Mbenenge and his remarks on human dignity), a few of us accompanied Prof Qumsiyeh to the nearby lush green botanical gardens.  What a gift it was to share this day in such great company!

Public broadcaster cancels radio talk:

The next morning Qumsiyeh had an appointment for an interview on SAFM (a  South African public radio station that broadcasts nationally), but it was cancelled at the very last minute.

Why? As stated in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s letter (PSC letter to SABC station manager the Jewish Board of Deputies who first insisted to be part of the discussion in the name of “balance in a sensitive issue” withdrew the evening before the show – and so South Africa’s public broadcaster cancelled the show.

The next morning, Terry Crawford-Browne  took Prof Qumsiyeh to the studio.  Says Crawford-Browne:

The SABC’s security record for the day will confirm that Mazin Qumsiyeh and I signed in at 08:45. The receptionist’s computer monitor confirmed that Mazin was expected.   The sound engineer on duty can confirm that he took us into a studio, and contacted Johannesburg to advise that Mazin was in the studio.  He was then hugely embarrassed to tell Mazin that the programme had been cancelled.

To call the matter between Israel and Palestine in need of “balance on a sensitive matter” displays in my opinion either ignorance or a disregard of international law, human rights and the gross violations thereof by Israel in its occupation of Palestine.

Why not give someone from Palestine a voice? Surely the public can phone in and ask any questions they want?  I think this was an attempt to silence a strong voice who speaks the reason of inclusion and dignity for all in the Middle East. I am deeply ashamed that my country’s public broadcaster’s decision.  In fact, the South African Palestinian Solidarity Campaign called this censorship by the SABC/SAFM:

“unlawful and unconstitutional, violating South Africans’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information.”

See also the PSC Media Statement


Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh ( is a Palestinian American of Christian background and was raised in Beit Sahour, the biblical Shepherd’s field just outside of Bethlehem, where he continues to live and work.

Mazin now teaches at Bethlehem University and Birzeit University in molecular genetics and other biology related courses. His worthy blog: is informative and analytical regarding the Palestine/Israel conflict.

His academic career started with his Ph.D. in Zoology from Texas Tech University. His later training was in genetics and he served as Associate Professor of Genetics and director of cytogenetic services both at Duke University and Yale University. During his 24 years in USA, he served on the faculties of these Universities.

He has traveled extensively in Jordan, Israel/Palestine, North Africa, East Africa, Europe, and America conducting scientific work and research, and has published over 120 scientific papers in areas ranging from Zoology to Genetics and two books: Mammals of the Holy Land and Bats of Egypt.

As an activist with Palestinian liberation movements, Mazin has served on several organizations’ Boards, authored books and published views and commentaries via the Internet and on websites.

mazinQumsiyeh being arrested in Al-Walaja 6 May 2010*

*The illegal Israeli Wall confiscates fertile Palestinian land (and the livelihood of families) in Al Walaja, a village in the district of Bethlehem. Most Palestinian men have been detained at least once – often for acts such as protests or stone throwing and often without a formal complaint.


Can Five Broken Cameras heal many hearts?

“I kept thinking – how can I produce an emotionally charged film whilst maintaining a very gentle tone?”

This is what Guy Davidi, an Israeli film producer, asked himself.


In 2012 the film “Five Broken Cameras” co-directed by Palestinian Emad Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidi became the most successful Palestinian-Israeli documentary ever. In January 2013 it won the World Cinema Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival and it was nominated for an Oscar as the best documentary feature film.

But is the world ready to see it?

The film shows the first years of life for Burnat’s baby against the backdrop of the Palestinian village Bil’in and how the local civilians resist the Israeli Wall which, together with Israeli settlers, are illegally on Palestinian land.

The thing is, the story of Emad Burnat’s family in Bil’in is not unique.  It is the story of just about every village in the West Bank of Palestine. Burnat simply filmed regular events as they unfolded.  He says that five of his cameras were smashed by the Israeli army as he documented friends and family members being shot and injured by Israeli troops.

Yet despite the acclaim and international awards, the film is not allowed in Israeli schools.  But the Israeli director in the team, Guy Davidi, finds different ways to show it to young Israelis.


Those who watched it, said the film (and the story they did not know) changed their lives.  They ask:

“What are we to do now that we know?”


The year 2013 is upon us.  Read the story behind the acclaimed film, watch the trailer and listen to what Israeli youth say after watching it:

Can Palestinian non-violent resistance make it into Israel’s education system?

For us who have already witnessed what happens in Palestine, what are we to do?

For me one thing is to talk about the Palestinians’ choice of non-violent resistance… and initiatives with them and with like-minded others such as my Jewish and Muslim friends and colleagues.  When the time is ready, I shall do so in future posts.

May we all have open hearts in the rest of 2013 – hearts that will not only receive, but also share blessings of goodwill and love.  May we co-discover ways to create a dignified peace.  And may this film remind us that all in the world deserve dignity.