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SAZF undermining IAW: embassy

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The Palestinian Embassy in South Africa has accused the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) of attempting to undermine Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) by hosting Palestinian activist Bassem Eid. Eid is the founder and former director of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG). SAZF describes Eid as one of the more neutral voices on the conflict, who believes Palestinians should be investing in a strong civil society and democratic institutions.

But according to the Palestinian embassy, the agenda of the “so called activist” is to discredit the South African human rights organisation BDS South Africa. The embassy is strongly opposed to Eid’s visit, saying it is meant to derail the successful IAW, a global campaign which has spread across universities in South Africa.

“We wish to set the record straight, this person does not represent the Palestinian Embassy in South Africa nor the Government of Palestine. In fact, we condemn the childish efforts by the Israeli lobby to try to undermine IAW by employing the expired tactic of using discredited and unrepresentative voices,” the embassy said in a statement.

“Many Palestinians when they hear the words of Bassem Eid they feel ashamed, we distance ourselves from this man and what he represents. The Embassy of the State of Palestine wants to state it categorically that we fully support and appreciate all the Palestine solidarity organisations in this country, the BDS campaign and specifically Israeli Apartheid Week. The Embassy would like to confirm that Eid’s approach of blaming the victim does not help the Palestinian interest in any way.”

Local Israeli lobby groups have put their own spin on IAW by calling it ‘Israeli Awareness Week’. In Cape Town, the SAZF invited Eid and Father Gabriel Naddaf, an Israeli Christian and Greek Orthodox priest, to deliver talks at UCT, which will be the centre of IAW events in the city. VOC reporters who visited UCT on Thursday were informed that tensions were high between students from UCT’s Palestinian Solidarity Forum and those in support of Zionist Israel.

The Palestinian embassy said it was confident that the South African people will “see through this Israeli ploy as Apartheid South Africa also sent “good blacks” to whitewash Apartheid’s crimes”. Likewise Eid and Nadaf are being used to “whitewash Israel’s Apartheid policies”, it added.

“Thank you to all peace loving South Africans that have taken to the streets and onto their University campuses during this international campaign and pledging solidarity with Palestine and her people, we have no doubt that one day (soon) all Palestinian refugees will return home to a free Palestine.”

The embassy said it was proud to be one of the participants in this year’s IAW campaign which has the support and endorsement of over 85 South African organisations including SA’s ruling party, the ANC. VOC

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