South Africa civil society stood united in calls for a clear boycott and isolation of the Apartheid state of Israel on Friday. At a joint press conference held at the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) head quarters, a number of pro-Palestinian solidarity activists vowed to make Palestine a top priority and called on government to completely end all relations with Israel.
Representing Claremont Main Road Masjid (CMRM), Imam Dr Rashid Omar called on the ANC led government to back their apposite words of condemnation of Israeli attacks with matching actions, by severing all diplomatic and trade ties with the Apartheid State of Israel.
“It is not good enough for the ANC to hide behind the illusion that boycotting the Apartheid State of Israel is the responsibility of civil society, ANC structures on the ground and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). Our government must employ the same peaceful means of boycotting and isolating the Apartheid State of Israel as we so successfully called on the international community to implement against the Apartheid South African regime,” he said.
“We call on all South Africans to pressurize our government to express genuine solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine by severing all diplomatic, cultural and trade links with the Apartheid State of Israel.’
At the conference, student representatives from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of the Western Cape (UWC) spoke of the support they hope to see from South Africans, who understood the difficulties of oppression.
A Palestinian student studying at UWC took the opportunity to encourage people to stand up and actively take charge by joining the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions South Africa (BDS SA). Muhammed Sami came to South Africa without speaking a word of English, yet today, he speaks of how South Africa’s rich history of overcoming oppression has become a lesson which he will take with him to Palestine as a story of hope.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice then you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” Sami said, quoting Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
The press conference comes as local civil societies call on the public to actively participate in isolating the Apartheid state of Israel through fighting for international sanctions and boycotting Israeli businesses.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s (PSC) Terry Crawford-Browne said local organisations can mobilise the South African community in leading the Israeli-Palestinian conflict toward peace negotiations.
“This is not a matter of Israeli bashing. We need to bring Israelis and Palestinians together to negotiate a peaceful resolution of the conflict as we did in South Africa,” Brown explained.
“We are calling on our government to take the lead internationally by heeding Palestinian civil societies as well as Amnesty International’s call for a full military embargo on Israel, effective immediately.”
The MJC has already applied for a permit to march to Parliament on Wednesday 16th April in a bid to not only bring awareness to the plight of Palestinians but also pressure government on taking a stronger stance against Israel.
The rising number of deaths of innocent civilians in Gaza has exceeded 100 since Tuesday when Israel began its Operation Protective Edge. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)