12 December 2012
A delegation of South African Christian Church leaders has just returned from a one-week solidarity visit to the holy cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem in Palestine-Israel. On their return, they released this joint statement [extracts]:
"Being South African, it felt like walking into another apartheid ambush. We witnessed violations of international law on so many levels – the multiple Israeli house demolitions, the discriminatory Israeli legal system, the daily intimidation of Palestinians by the Israeli Defence Forces, the Israeli Apartheid Wall and its associated regime of restrictions on movement and access for Palestinians, the imprisonment of a large percentage of Palestinians (including children), the ongoing confiscation of Palestinian water and land, the closure of previously bustling Palestinian streets and businesses, separate pavements for Israelis and Palestinians..."
"We did not expect the extent to which Israel violates international law to oppress the Palestinian people. Our exposure to the Palestinian East Jerusalem and the Israeli-Occupied West Bank was overwhelming, one which traumatised us...."
The South African Christian delegation included the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church in Southern Africa, Bishop Zipho Siwa; the General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa and President of the World Communion of Reformed Churches SouthernAfrica, Reverend Jerry Pillay; the Secretary General of the Evangelical Alliance of SouthAfrica, Reverend Moss Nthla; and the Deputy Moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church,Dominee Braam Haanekom.
The delegation ended their statement supporting, amongst other things, "responsible" tourism to the Holy Land as well as the Palestinian people's 2005 call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel:
"We realize though that the biblical call issued by Jesus is not only to "come and see" but to"go and tell" what you have seen and heard. However, it does not end just with the latter. Further, Jesus calls us to "go and do" (act)..."
"The Palestinians [Christians as well] are asking the world for economic, cultural and other forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) – a strategy that helped us to end apartheid in South Africa. We believe that maximum pressure must be put on Israel to abide by international law." Click here for the full statement, photos and further info.
MEANWHILE THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL OTHER WORLDWIDE BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL SUCCESSES :
1. NORWEGIAN UNIVERSITY ENDS CONTRACT WITH ISRAELI-COMPLICIT COMPANY,G4S: In a major success for the campaign against Israeli prison contractor, Group 4 Securicor (G4S), the University of Oslo has announced that it will terminate its contract with the company in July 2013. The University Director, Ole Ottersen, said: "The university wishes by no means to support companies that operate in an ethical grey zone". G4S is a security company (operating in South Africa as well) that has an Israeli contract to provide equipment and services to Israeli prisons in which Palestinian political prisoners, including several child prisoners, are detained. G4S also provides equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints and Israel's illegal settlements. The Israeli government has recently confirmed that G4S also provides equipment to Israel's illegal Apartheid Wall.
2. LARGEST EVER TRADE UNION TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL: Last month, one of the largest international trade unions, the Public Services International (PSI), at its World Congress voted to fully support and advance the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign. The PSI World Congress also adopted a resolution to promote and partake-in an annual awareness-raising initiative, the Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) campaign. The PSI represents 20 million workers globally who deliver public services in 150 countries. Two SouthAfrican trade unions, the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) and the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) belong to the PSI.
3. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, 52 NOBEL LAUREATES AND OTHER NOTABLES CALL FOR ARMS EMBARGO ON ISRAEL: On the 19th of November Amnesty International called on the UN to impose an arms embargo on Israel (see: http://tinyurl.com/cykjvvr). Subsequently 52 international figures issued a statement supporting such an Israeli arms embargo. Signatories include the 1976 Irish Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire and Argentina's 1980 Laureate, Adolfo Perez Esquível. Academics and Professors include Slavoj Zizek(Slovenia), Etienne Balibar (France), Noam Chomsky (USA) and Judith Butler (USA). Authors and artists include Roger Waters of Pink Floyd (USA), John Berger (France),John Pilger (Australia) and Naomi Klein, (USA). Government officials include, Senator Walden Bello (Philippines), Member of Parliament Christian Juhl (Denmark), Senator Vincenzo Vita (Italy), former President of the European Parliament, Luisa Morgantini, and the former UN Assistant General Secretary, Denis Halliday (Ireland). Other notable signatories were: Alice Walker (USA), Angela Davis (USA), South Africa's international law expert, John Dugard, and Stéphane Hessel, the 95-year-old Holocaust survivor and co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
4. TOP EUROPEAN FOOTBALLERS CALL ON UEFA TO DROP ISRAEL: More than 50 English Premier League and 1st division European footballers have issued an open letter in solidarity with the Palestinians and condemning the soccer body UEFA's upcoming hosting of its 2013 Under 21 tournament in Israel. Signatories to the open letter include Chelsea's Eden Hazard; Newcastle United's Papiss Cissé; former Seville striker, Frédéric Kanouté;Abou Diaby of Arsenal and Pape Diop of West Ham United.
Finally, as is often the case, almost any solidarity with the Palestinians, is vehemently opposed by the Israeli lobby who claim to want "neutrality" and "inaction", but as Archbishop Desmond Tutu has put it: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
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