First global anti-apartheid conference on Palestine to be held in SA - SA BDS Coalition
Roshan Dadoo |
17 October 2023
Goal is to hold Israel accountability for its crime, dismantle apartheid from Jordan River to Mediterranean Sea
South Africa responds to Palestinian call:
first global anti-apartheid conference on Palestine to be held in South Africa
The South African Anti-Apartheid Conference Steering Committee (SAAACSC) announced today that it is planning an international Conference to launch a global Anti-Apartheid Movement against Israel’s Regime of Settler Colonialism and Apartheid. The Conference is scheduled to be held in Gauteng, South Africa from the 10 – 12 May 2024, leading to the 76th commemoration of the Nakba on the 15 May 2023.
The SAAACSC was constituted by Palestine solidarity groups in South Africa in response to a united call by the Palestinian civil society for the international community to establish a “Global Front to Dismantle Israel’s Regime of Settler Colonialism and Apartheid.
“Right now, the Palestinian people are facing a genocidal onslaught from Apartheid Israel on an unprecedented scale. In what country other than an apartheid state does the Minister of Defence call the Palestinian people “human animals?” said Frank Chikane. “We responded immediately to the Palestinian call, but the conference is the beginning not the end” Chikane said following a press conference in Johannesburg today to announce this initiative.
In 2022, Palestinians came together in the first Palestinian National Conference Against Apartheid. This gathering issued a Unified Anti-Apartheid Call, and the Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Coordinating Committee (PAACC) was formed as a unifying coalition in order to coordinate with global partners towards ending Israeli apartheid.
The first response to this Call came from South Africa, where the South African Anti-Apartheid Steering Committee (SAAASC) was formed through a process of bringing together a broad spectrum of civil society. Representing solidarity organisations in South Africa & various sectors of our society, the Steering Committee members are Rev Frank Chikane (Chair), Rev Edwin Arrison, Usuf Chikte, Mohammed Dangor, Na’eem Jeenah, Shaheen Khan, Jo Bluen, Dudu Mahlangu-Masango, Lesego Masisi, Firoza Mayat, Rev Mzwandile Molo, Marthie Momberg, Rev Moss Ntlha, Imam Rashid Omar, Fazel Randera
The Press Conference announced the Patrons of the First Global Anti Apartheid Conference for Palestine: Maulana Abdul Khaliq Allie, Brigalia Bam, Alan Boesak, Steven Friedman, Janet Jobson, Pallo Jordan, Ronnie Kasrils, Zwelivelile (Mandla) Mandela, Thabo Makgoba, Abdul Minty, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Elinor Sisulu, Bishop Zipho Siwa, Yasmin Sooka, Salim Vally, Shaeera Kalla, Ella Gandhi, Mohammed Dangor, Mongane Wally Serote, Barbara Masekela.
Following letter exchanges and a visit by a PAACC delegation to South Africa, both committees agreed to work together to advance global efforts, including by organizing the First International Conference Towards A Global Front to Dismantle Israel’s Regime of Settler Colonialism and Apartheid. The Concept Note for the Conference is herein attached.
Regional consultations have begun with groups around the world to bring together in South Africa around 200 civil society participants from Palestine and across Africa, Latin America, North America, Europe, and Asia. Delegations are expected to include parliamentarians, representatives of political parties, representatives of national and regional BDS organizations, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations and networks, grassroots groups, trade unions, business representatives and professional groups, journalists, lawyers, jurists, academics, artists, students, UN officials, regional multilateral organisations, and others.
The key objective of the Conference is the mobilization of the Global Anti-Apartheid Movement to hold Israel accountable for its crime of Apartheid against the Palestinians and work to dismantle Israeli Apartheid from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
GLOBAL ANTI-APARTHEID MOVEMENT AGAINST ISRAELI APARTHEID
A response to the call from Palestinians:
SA to host First International Conference
“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete, without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
Decades of mobilization by the Palestinian people, coupled with recent endorsement from global civil society, faith-based organisations, international human rights organizations, UN experts, heads of states, parliamentarians, and diplomats, have made it clear that apartheid, as defined in the UN Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, is not merely a scourge of the past but a persistent affliction that demands urgent action.
Irrefutable evidence and unequivocal analysis from all these quarters demonstrate that Israel is perpetrating the crime against humanity of apartheid against Palestinians.
Under the current openly far right, Israeli government, the decades long violence and settler-colonial oppression against Indigenous Palestinians is taking ever more brutal forms and with greater impunity.
The recognition of apartheid as a crime against humanity and the meaningful global solidarity with the people’s struggle on the ground – particularly expressed in cutting links of state, corporate and institutional complicity in apartheid – paved the way to freedom and democracy for the people in Southern Africa and their ongoing struggle to end economic inequalities. The dismantlement of apartheid in South Africa is today a vital milestone in the global struggle against racism, discrimination and colonial oppression, but it remains “incomplete,” as Mandela said, without fully abolishing apartheid everywhere around the world, starting in Palestine.
CALL BY PALESTINIANS
In 2022, Palestinians came together in the first Palestinian National Conference Against Apartheid. It was organized by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Anti-Apartheid Department, and the Anti-Apartheid Committee in the National Council, in partnership with the BDS movement, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council, the Palestinian NGO Network, and the Palestinian Ministry of Justice.
The conference produced the consensus based, unifying, and historic callfor a Global Front to Dismantle Israel’s Regime of Settler Colonialism and Apartheid (the Unified Anti-Apartheid Call). In the Call Palestinians assert that:
“The Israeli apartheid system is a tool of the Zionist settler-colonial project in Palestine, which established the State of Israel on the ruins of the Palestinian homeland and displaced most of the Indigenous Arab-Palestinian people during the Nakba of 1948, which started soon after the unjust partition decision of 1947.
“This project’s plans were implemented through the ethnic cleansing of the Arab-Palestinian people to consolidate Israel’s settler-colonial control over the largest possible area of our homeland.
“Since the Nakba, the foundations of Israeli apartheid were operationalized through laws, policies, and practices, especially those aimed at denying Palestinian refugees and displaced persons their right of return to their homes, lands, and properties, thereby entrenching their dispossession, fragmentation, and domination. These laws, most notably the 2018 Nation-State of the Jewish People Basic Law, have aimed at obliterating Palestinian rights and undermining the Palestinian identity. “After 74 years, Israel’s gradual ethnic cleansing of Palestinians continues, through the continuous ‘Judaization’ operations in the Galilee and the Negev, and settlement operations and annexation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank, especially in Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, which confirms that the Nakba continues.”
Such a grim reality persists today.
Based on the Unified Anti-Apartheid Call, the Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Coordinating Committee (PAACC) was formed as a unifying coalition in order to coordinate with global partners towards ending Israeli apartheid.
RESPONSE OF SOUTH AFRICA
As expected, the first response to this Call came from South Africa, where the South African Anti-Apartheid Steering Committee (SAAASC) was formed. Following letter exchanges and a visit by a PAACC delegation to South Africa, both committees agreed to work together to advance global efforts, including by organizing the First International Conference Towards A Global Front to Dismantle Israel’s Regime of Settler Colonialism and Apartheid.
The International Conference will be the first concrete step in this strategy towards the launch of a Global Anti-Apartheid Movement in support of the struggle of Palestinians against Israel’s Apartheid Regime.
The objective of the conference is to set the course and support the mobilization, organization and coordination for global action against Israeli apartheid. It aims to:
1.Develop political, legal, public diplomacy and media plans based on the Unified Anti-Apartheid Call to further isolate Israel’s regime of oppression and hold it accountable, including to support or otherwise help initiate policy-level campaigns and lobbying efforts aimed at pressuring the UN, regional bodies, and states to impose targeted, lawful sanctions, as was done against apartheid South Africa.
2.Set the program of action for the global front to dismantle Israeli apartheid including the development and announcement of the Pretoria Anti-Apartheid Declaration as a tool for mobilization, organization, and action. The program of action includes supporting bodies at global, regional and grassroots levels to advance anti-apartheid mobilization and campaigns.
3.Develop the coordination and communication infrastructure for the global front in taking the objectives and program of action forward.
The key objective of the Conference is the mobilization of the Global Anti-Apartheid Movement to hold Israel accountable for its crime of Apartheid against the Palestinians and work to dismantle Israeli Apartheid from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea!
DATES AND VENUE
Date: 10 - 12 May 2024 (leading to the 76th commemoration of Nakba on the 15 May);
Venue: Gauteng, South Africa
Towards the international conference the PAACC will organize a series of consultative regional and grassroots meetings with the aim to develop programs of actions according to The Unified Palestinian Call to be reflected in regional declarations that will be brought to the international conference by regional representatives. The regional consultative meetings are being planned to cover the following areas globally:
Statement from Saleh Hijazi, member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee which is a member of the PAACC, speaking from Ramallah, Palestine, to the press conference held in Johannesburg, 17 October 2023
Dear Friends in South Africa, Comrades and Members of the Media:
Greetings to South Africa - Greetings from occupied Ramallah.
My name is Saleh Hijazi, I am speaking to you today on behalf of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) the largest coalition in Palestinian society and the leadership of the global movement to dismantle Israel’s settler-colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid and ending complicity in it.
Today, a genocide is unfolding in Gaza.
For over 10 days now, Gaza has been under the most intense Israeli bombardment targeting homes, markets, schools and universities, hospitals, and infrastructure. Entire families have, again, been whipped off the face of the earth. Israel’s onslaught killed over 2,800 Palestinians so far, over 1000 of those children; according to Defence for Children International, one child is killed every 15 minutes in Gaza. Injured people have surpassed 10 thousand people while the health system is at breaking point. Almost half a million people have been internally displaced. Meanwhile a massive number of Israeli forces have amassed around Gaza, preparing for what will be a brutal ground offensive. Food, water, electricity, and gas have been completely cut off on orders of the Israeli war minister, Yoav Gallant, who said, upon making the order, that Israel is fighting “human animals” and should act accordingly. Following this, a top Israeli army commander responsible for the provision of the essentials of life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories repeats his minister's words and says, addressing Palestinians, in Arabic: “you will not have electricity or water, only destruction, you want hell, we will give you hell.”
Scholars and international law experts say what is happening in Gaza is a textbook definition of genocide. States, including South Africa as expressed by President Ramaphosa, human rights organizations, jurists, and the former International Criminal Court prosecutor have sounded the alarm warning about Israel’s looming genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.
Apartheid Israel, supported and funded by the powerful West, are seeing an opportunity today to conclude what the Zionist settler-colonial project started in 1948, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and to conclude the Nakba.
This shall not pass.
And it is only through meaningful solidarity with us Palestinians by peoples and nations who have been victimized by colonialism, apartheid, and genocide in Africa and beyond that we can stop genocide today and dismantle the system of colonial oppression behind it.
Today our priority is to stop the genocide, we demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and allowing humanitarian aid to the people there, which Israel continues to prevent.
But in taking urgent action today we shall keep our sights focused on the fundamental and strategic goal of dismantling colonial oppression in Palestine and ending Israeli apartheid.
This is why the conference next May, coinciding with the 76th commemoration of Nakba, is of utter importance.
We need to work together to truly make apartheid a thing of history, with no place for it in our world today. Work starts at home in South Africa and elsewhere around the world by ending complicity in Israel crimes against the Palestinian people and towards a global front to dismantle Israel’s settler-colonialism and apartheid as came in the historic unified Palestinian call earlier this year.
Issued by Roshan Dadoo, SA BDS Coalition, 17 October 2023