Local pro-Palestinian activists have warned that they will not allow former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres on South African shores. Peres is expected to visit South Africa for a one day visit on February 28th, in order to raise funds for the Israel United Appeal and United Communal Fund. The visit has been dubbed the “The Man of Peace” and flyers of the event depict a dove to add credence to that description.
Not much has been revealed about the 92 year old statesman’s visit, with even the location of the event undisclosed. Public events by the Zionist lobby are usually organised with tight security detail. Members of the public are often compelled to provide their identity number and other information.
Peres is a highly controversial figure in the Middle East, however, as he was a top Israeli official and politician throughout decades of occupation and settlement building, as well as two extremely destructive wars with Lebanon.
Peres is well-remembered by many in the region for his leadership and justification of a 1996 incident when Israel shelled a UN base in Qana, Lebanon and killed more than 100 civilians seeking refuge there from a broader Israeli assault.
In response various Palestinian organisations have rallied together to discuss plans around Peres’ visit, however nothing has been divulged at this stage.
Ibrahim Vawda from the Media Review Network (MRN) in South Africa said he is sceptical about these fund raising efforts due to the fact that Israel receives aid from countries such as the United States of America as well as other European nations.
“The notion that he is coming to South Africa to raise funds is rather strange considering that Israel receives four billion dollars worth of aid from the United States annually. [Its strange] that he is coming to South Africa to raise funds when we ourselves have millions of people living below the bread-line. We will find South African business people pouring millions of South African rands into his coffers which he will then take to Israel and then further oppress the Palestinian people,” explained Vawda.
“If I had to speculate then I would say that he is coming to South Africa to reassure the Zionist community that it would be worth their while to support Israel and to ensure the existence of Israel as a state for the Jewish people. He will probably come here to invite people to do Aliya and migrate from South Africa to Israel,” Vawda continued.
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews from the diaspora to the Land of Israel. It’s also defined as “the act of going up”—that is, towards Jerusalem—”making Aliyah” by moving to the Land of Israel is one of the most basic tenets of Zionism.
Kwara Kekana from the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement in South Africa said the title ‘The Man of Peace’ was laughable.
“It’s absolutely provocative and ridiculous. To label anybody as an extension of Israeli apartheid as ‘a man of peace’…”
Peres is said to be Israel’s most well-travelled prime minister, but his international visits have not always been met with open arms. His visit to South Africa in 2002 was highly controversial and resulted in fierce opposition from the local pro-Palestine lobby. Clashes ensued outside one particular venue where Peres was present, as pro-Palestinian activists took to the streets in demonstration.
Kekana said the pro-Palestinian solidarity movement would respond in time as they could not condone a man said to be complicit in Israel’s apartheid regime.
“We will demonstrate what Palestinian solidarity means to South Africa. We will not accept any one who condones apartheid on our doorstep.” VOC (Umarah Hartley)