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Palestinian Grassroots Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign

São Paulo protests Israeli apartheid

In São Paulo, Brazil, activists held their first protest in front of the chain of “Spicy” stores to protest the sale of Sodastream products.

As part of the global BDS campaign and the rising number of actions against SodaStream in particular, activists hels a ‘Palestinian rolezinho’. ‘Rolezinhos’ are actions by youth of the Brazilian periphery, who questioned last January the prevailing social apartheid in the country and the privatization of the city, and started to enter in large groups certain places that are considered a given privilege of the middle and upper class. They entered in groups the air conditioned shopping centers and immediate criminalization of their presence showed and challenged brazil’s persisting class divide. Palestine activists drew the parallel with Israeli apartheid.Another analogy, this time between the system of segregation of blacks in South Africa from 1948 to 1994 and the situation that Palestinians are facing until today, was showcased during the activities that have been held during the Week against the Israeli apartheid in Brazil in various universities in the country.

 

In addition to addressing apartheid from South Africa to Palestine, the week included among the topics the 2014 World Cup and the Boycott , Divestment and Sanctions ( BDS ) against Israel.The journalist Arturo Hartmann, director of the film "About football and barriers" made in Palestine , presented the definition of apartheid as "separation" , "separate development" and the historical context and a series of situations in the West Bank to show its application in the Palestinian case. In his speech on the occupied West Bank, he spoke about the Zionist plans that led to the creation of Bantustans in there. Among the examples cited by the journalist are territorial apartheid in Hebron, the discriminatory use of water in the Jordan Valley and what is seen today in Jerusalem. Hartmann highlighted a policy of segregation in relation to Palestinian construction in East Jerusalem and also mentioned the apartheid wall that cuts through the West Bank. He pointed out that democracy and the Jewish character of the state are incompatible and create this situation of apartheid. In other words, only in a secular state equal rights to all would be guaranteed, regardless of religion or ethnicity. He concluded: "International solidarity is what remains for that people. I heard from Palestinians and Israelis that the only good thing that has happened to them is BDS, because the situation is dramatic. I think even that apartheid is a very mild word for the things that happen there."

 

In this context, the situation of the 1.5 million Palestinians living in what is now Israel - subject to racist laws and some even living in non-recognized villages, being deprived of essential public services - was remembered by the audience. Just as the discrimination faced by Palestinians and descendants to come even to visit their homeland and the situation experienced by thousands of refugees whose right to return their land and property has been denied .

 

In another conference, South African activists Thando Manzi and Hlokosa Montu discussed the analogy between the regime they faced between 1948 and 1994 in their country and what is happening in Palestine today. Geography student , Thando Manzi contextualized the institution of apartheid there and said: " From 1962 to 1983, 3.5 million blacks were removed from their homes (in order to be brought to Bantustans), in 1970 the political representation of non-whites was abolished, they were de facto deprived of citizenship. The government segregated access to education, work , health care and other public services." He reported the fight against apartheid , the repression suffered by activists and commented: "Then came the international sanctions against South Africa and with this it became extremely difficult for the government to maintain this structure."

 

Director of the Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, Montu shared his experience during apartheid, noting that at the time there were 4 million whites and 40 million blacks, which needed to always carry an internal passport." There was a law that required me every day at five o'clock in the afternoon to leave the city where I was working and return to the town where I lived. If there was a need for me to stay in the city of the whites beyond this time, I had to show a letter from my employer so that the police would not arrest me. And in the place where I lived there were constant raids to check that our documentation was equivalent to where we were. If we were found, eg., in a park with our girlfriends we were arrested or driven away."

 

He recounted that already in 1913 the government of South Africa had issued the Law of the Land, reserving only 13 % of the total land for blacks, which were "expelled from all fertile areas and most beautiful areas of the country. We were thrown to farming areas which were basically deserted and we could enter the cities controlled by whites only to work.” He emphasized,"It is the same policy applied by Israel on the Palestinians ... separate passports, murders, arrests, mass torture, evictions from fertile areas for desert areas. Mandela said that our freedom will never be complete until the Palestinians are not free. And I have clarity that only the masses can liberate Palestine. We cannot even trust the bosses or the governments for that."

Carlos Latuff
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