Published: 2017-12-08 11:39
Last Updated: 2017-12-08 14:18
South Africans are rallying behind Palestine, marching on Friday in rejection of US President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday that his country was recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that it intended to move its embassy from Tel Aviv.
The march was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which noted: “Given his propensity for reckless and unilateral actions, Mr Trump and the Israeli government may not have anticipated the backlash that will reverberate around the international community.
“The announcement is likely to become a watershed event in 21st century history, and may yet mark the end of US financial and military hegemony around the world.
“That Zionism is a form of apartheid and that Israel is an apartheid state that repeatedly commits war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the Palestinian people is now thoroughly documented.
“South Africa’s own liberation from the system of apartheid was a consequence of international solidarity, especially banking sanctions, with our struggle against racial oppression.
“President Nelson Mandela famously declared that South Africans would not be truly free until Palestinians are free,” activist organisation the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said in a statement.
The organisation has also called on the African Union to urge the United Nations, the European Union and other organisations to implement suspension of international financial transactions to and from Israeli banks until the Israeli government agrees to the following demands:
• The immediate release of all Palestinian political prisoners;
• To end the occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, and dismantle the “apartheid wall”;
• To recognise the fundamental rights of Arab-Palestinians to full equality in Israel-Palestine; and
• To acknowledge the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
When it comes to support of the Palestinian cause, South Africa stood out as one of the most outspoken international voices outside of the Middle East.
Earlier this year a UN report accused Israel of imposing an apartheid regime of racial discrimination on the Palestinian people, the first time a U.N. body has made such a charge outside of South Africa.
However, despite the deeply oppressive nature of South African apartheid, many South African activists and academics have argued that the current Palestinian experience of apartheid is far more severe than their own country’s dark past.
Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela, reflected this sentiment, telling Roya last month: “What we have experienced in South Africa is a fraction of what the Palestinians are experiencing. Us, we were oppressed in order to serve the white minority. The Palestinians are being eliminated off their land and brought out of their territories, and this is a total human rights violations.”
“I think it is a total disgrace that the world is able to sit back while such atrocities are being carried out by apartheid Israel,” he added.