Despite stern criticism from Zionist supporters, Palestinian icon Leila Khaled will attend the upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Jacob Zuma. Leila Khaled will be accompanied by a senior leader of BDS South Africa to SONA. The State of the Nation Address will take place in Cape Town on Thursday 12th of February.
A fundraising dinner for BDS South Africa has now been moved to Islamia High school campus in Imam Haron Road in Lansdowne at 8pm on Thursday, to accomodate Khaled’s appearance at the opening of Parliament.
Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation, BDS South Africa together with other supporters of Palestine have welcomed Khaled’s invitation to attend the president’s address.
“Leila Khaled has inspired many liberation leaders, not just in South Africa, but across the world. Khaled attending SONA is a sign of the great respect South Africans have for her and her incredible commitment towards the self determination and freedom of Palestine. We know that her fearlessness and radical militancy inspired many liberation leaders in South Africa, today some of these leaders have protected her from Zionist and Israeli onslaught and even ensured that she is able to attend this prestigious event,” BDS South Africa said in a statement.
BDS solidarity activists have reported that Khaled has had a productive trip thus far, with huge support from the ANC as well as from the thousands of supporters across the country. South Africa, through showing such respect towards Leila Khaled, has placed itself “on the right side of history”, said BDS South Africa.
“South African leaders have not succumbed to pro-Israeli groups that have tried to influence leaders into rejecting comrade Leila Khaled. Clearly no amount of money or free trips to Israel has been able to turn South Africa’s leadership against BDS South Africa and the oppressed people of Palestine. Indeed Leila Khaled’s attendance of SONA will be historic and also a show of gratitude from her to the South African people who have been so hospitable to her during the past few days.”
The pro-Palestine lobby group said Khaled’s presence at SONA should be seen as a clear sign that South Africa “is a friend of Palestine” and that no pro-Israeli lobby or interest group can change this fact. It said this position “is not an accident”, but one which was adopted by South Africa the moment Nelson Mandela became president in 1994.
“The BDS movement has been overwhelmed by the massive support and response of the South African people, the media, the ruling ANC party and South African Government to Leila Khaled during her BDS trip. The BDS movement and Leila Khaled would like to thank the thousands of people who have assisted in making her time here such a special experience.” VOC