South Africans need to play a role whereby they constantly remind government to act independently and impartially within the paradigm of a constitutional state, this especially in cases relating to the country’s stance on Palestinian rights. So says local attorney, Ziyaad Patel, who was amongst a South African delegation who recently attended the 3rd Global Convention for Solidarity with Palestine, held this year in Beirut, Lebanon. Patel was also joined by members of the Media Review Network, one of the country’s more vocal voices in support of the Palestinian cause.
The conference had three predominant agendas, namely in the building of solidarity amongst pro-Palestinian activists across the world, the formation of a combined media committee, as well as the formation of an activities committee. The latter will aim to serve as a means whereby activists can arrange various activities that will help spread awareness to the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli rule.
Patel was invited to the convention to provide a perspective on how legal mechanisms can be used towards Palestinian awareness. He was famously at the forefront of the Gadija Davids case, one of those on board the Marvi Marmara when the ship was raided by Israeli naval forces in 2010. The case contributed towards the issuance of arrest warrants against four high ranking Israel commanders by a Turkish court, warrants that were subsequently taken up by South African police as well.
“When we look at law as a mechanism in terms of bringing Israeli commanders to justice for crimes committed with impunity, we must understand that this is just one avenue (to pursue).
“In terms of fighting the Zionist regime, one has to understand that it has to be a combined effort and a consideration of many factors,” he explained.
Addressing the convention itself, Patel described the event as an objective one. He said one of the more important declarations taken was that of the right of return for Palestinians.
“We were also given the opportunity to visit parts of southern Lebanon, visiting a museum where we saw that the Swiss fighters fought and driven out the Zionist regime from occupied Lebanon. I think that created a lot of inspiration for activists to say that look, the Zionist regime can be defeated,” he declared.
According to Patel the conference also stressed the importance of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, as well as the need for it to grow amongst the international community.
“What was important here was not having all the different movements acting independently but rather having a sense of cohesion and cooperation so that there is a greater impact,” he added.
Patel concluded that the South African delegation had come back more informed about how to further the Palestinian cause. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)