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DA Fence-Sitting on Palestinian Issue

Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News – 2013-03-11

A mural painted by well-known graffiti artist, Iain “Ewok” Robinson, at the Durban North Beach Skate Board Park has irked a Democratic Alliance councillor Avrille Marcia Coen to argue that the usage of the term ‘apartheid’ in relation to Israel constitutes ‘hate speech’.

However, Khadeeja Manjra from the Durban for Gaza Campaign said the wall where the mural is painted serves as a legal canvas for all artists.

Coen advised that she would instruct the Parks & Leisure Department to immediately remove the Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) graffiti mural, which has been condemned by The Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) South Africa Team (IAW SA Team).

Speaking to Radio Islam’s Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat, Manjra said she asked Coen what her stance on the Palestinian issue was, to which according to Manjra, Coen said, “I am not at liberty to say because I am not exactly sure about it. And if I do tell you, I would be quoting incorrectly.”

Manjra says that if the wall is removed it will be a direct suppression of freedom of speech, which is a human right and a constitutional right. “As far I am concerned the only wall that needs to be removed and that constitutes hate speech is the one in Palestine,” said Manjra.

In order to ascertain whether the DA on a national level shares Coen’s view, Manjra says it’s not clear whether Coen acted in her personal capacity or that of a ward councillor. “If indeed it is from her capacity as a DA councillor, then we will have to take that forward,” she said.

Meanwhile the DA’s Hanif Hoosein said he could confirm that he had received a number of complaints about the comments made by Coen. He said he contacted Coen and instructed her not to take further action on the matter. “I can confirm that she has not requested the municipality to remove the graffiti off the wall,” added Hoosein.

Hoosein said the DA is a political party that supports freedom of expression on the particular matter of the mural and they do not believe they should be taking a side on the matter. “And that both the pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups should find a way to resolve the impasse with regards to the graffiti whether or not it’s acceptable to either side,” added Hoosein.

The DA sits on the proverbial fence when it comes to the Palestinian issue. According to Hoosein the DA neither supports the Palestinian nor the Israeli cause and they are a party that remains absolutely neutral, but what they do support is pro-peace. “Our view is clear that what we would like to see is a negotiated peaceful settlement between both sides for a longer lasting solution, for the children of those both nations,” said Hoosein.

DA Clr Attempt to Censor Palestine Solidarity Campaign and have Usage of ‘Apartheid’ as Hate Speech

With the commencement of Israeli Apartheid Week, the Democratic Alliance has attempted to suppress and undermine the work of the Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) campaign in Durban. A DA Durban Councillor, Avrille Marcia Coen, argued that the usage of the term ‘apartheid’ in relation to Israel constitutes ‘hate speech’.

This comes after an Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) mural was painted by well-known graffiti artist, Iain “Ewok” Robinson, at the Durban North Beach Skate Board Park. The Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) South Africa Team (IAW SA Team) has condemned the attempt by the Democratic Alliance.

The DA representative has subsequently advised that she will instruct the Parks & Leisure Department to immediately remove the Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) graffiti mural. This move by the DA Councillor is consistent with recent demands by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) to remove Palestine awareness billboards that were placed by the Palestine solidarity organization, BDS South Africa, on Johannesburg’s M1 highway in Gauteng, thereby silencing free speech in South Africa.

In a press statement National Spokesperson of Israeli Apartheid Week South Africa Team (IAW South Africa Team) Mbuyiseni Ndlozi,: said:

“The word ‘apartheid’ is increasingly being used by South African and international organisations to describe the Israeli regime. In 2009, in a report officially commissioned by the South African government, the South African Human Sciences Research Council found Israel guilty of “Apartheid” and “Colonialism” with regard to its treatment of the indigenous Palestinian people. In January this year, the United Nations Human Rights Council found that there is “institutionalised racism” by Israel in the Palestinian West Bank and has called on member states to consider instituting both political and economic boycotts against Israel.”

“Describing Israel as an apartheid state is not hate speech but rather seeks to expose a regime that privileges some citizens while discriminating against others based on their ethnicity,” added Ndlozi.

Between the 11th and 17th of March, South Africa hosts the 9th international Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) campaign that takes places annually during February and March around the globe in over 250 cities. Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events (including rallies, lectures, cultural performances, music shows, films and workshops) that seek to raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies toward the indigenous Palestinians and garner support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign which is aimed to bring an end to Israel’s apartheid policies and violations of international law.

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