From the streets to parliament – South Africans raise their voices against Apartheid Israel
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From the streets to parliament – South Africans raise their voices against Apartheid Israel

Ten thousand people braved the rain on June 9th to march for Palestine in Cape Town under the banner ‘Free Palestine! End Israeli Occupation!’. The crowd was addressed by long standing Palestine and former anti-apartheid activists as well as Ministers Pallo Jordan and Ronnie Kasrils of the ANC, Moulana Hendricks, President of the Muslim Judicial Council, Tony Ehrenreich of Cosatu, Jeremy Cronin of the SACP, Rev Oswald of the Anglican Church and Mercia Andrews of the New Women’s Movement. In all a huge coalition of different forces took part in the demonstration from social movements, to faith groups and from trade unions to political parties including ministers. The speakers demanded an end to the occupation and called for boycotts and sanctions against Apartheid Israel. This was followed by a symbolic ring of 350 cars around the US Consulate.

***image3***Deputy Foreign Minister Sue van de Merwe received a memorandum on Palestine. The US, UK, Italian, French, German and Dutch ambassadors had also been invited to receive the memorandum, but refused to even listen to the peoples’ demands.

This was the major event in a country-wide programme of activities to mark 40 years of Israeli Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights. In Johannesburg, the City Hall Rally drew hundreds of protestors and was addressed by 15 speakers including Cosatu President Willie Madisha, South African Council of Churches General Secretary Eddie Makue, Palestinian ambassador Ali Halimeh and various faith representatives. The City Hall was packed to capacity and a similar event in Durban was also well attended. The presence of Palestinian Education Minister, Nas al-Din al-Sheer, who was due to participate South Africa’s week of actions, was sadly missed as he was arrested by Apartheid Israel a week before he was due to travel to the county.

Saturday’s protests followed more than a week of activities in a ‘Week of Actions’ organized by new coalition, End the Occupation Campaign. This saw rallies, pickets outside supermarkets selling Israeli goods, sermons in mosques and churches, seminars, radio talk shows and two parliamentary debates taking place, all in aid of the Palestinian struggle. There is a historic solidarity between the South African and Palestinian people, the former having defeated apartheid through their courageous struggle and the latter still battling against a system of apartheid that many South Africans consider far worse than what they had ever experienced.


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