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Ninth International Israeli Apartheid Week

This week, (11 – 17 March 2013), the International Israeli Apartheid Week is taking place around the globe.

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events, including rallies, lectures, cultural performances and workshops, which are held in cities and campuses across the world. More than 250 cities, including 16 South African universities and in over 35 South African cities and towns activities take place.

IAW seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies toward the Palestinians and to rally support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Apartheid Israel.

This is the ideal time wherein we can gather assistance and increase awareness to the plight of our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers in the blessed land of Palestine.

The Jamiatul Ulama South Africa supports the activities of the various organizations, trade unions and leaders in solidarity with the people of Palestine, that are being organised throughout South Africa during this week.

We are confident that through the many initiatives during the week, more and more people will become familiar with the long standing and unanswered Palestinian Question.

BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) of Apartheid Israel

All praise is due to Allah whose Mercy extends to all His creation. May the choicest blessings and salutations continue to descend upon our Master and Leader Nabi Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam, who is the epitome of justice in all facets of life.

Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is the messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers and merciful amongst themselves.” (48:29)

On the authority of Ibn Umar radhiyallahu anhuma, verily Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “The Muslim is a brother to the Muslim. He does not oppress him, nor does he hand him over. Whosoever assists of his brother, Allah will assist him. Whosoever removes a difficulty from a Muslim, Allah will remove a difficulty for him because of it from the difficulties of the Day of Judgment. Whosoever covers the faults of a Muslim, Allah will cover his faults on the Day of Judgment.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

Everyday Realities in Occupied Palestine

Imagine yourself and your family living in a land where you are regarded by the authority as being unworthy of basic human rights. Your freedom of movement is restricted, so much so that you are unable to earn a living wage. Your wife and parents are unable to get adequate medical attention without being held up at checkpoints for no apparent reason, for hours on end. You are susceptible to military raids into your home at any time without any recourse, and your children are used as human shields as the same house invaders go door-to-door, to your neighbours.

Your children are brought up witnessing the brutality of the occupation on a daily basis. They are used as target practice by snipers as they walk to what is left of their school. You may be detained without charge for any amount of time without legal counsel and are open to torture. Your home, which you and your forefathers resided in for centuries, may be demolished, only to receive a bill of the bulldozer demolition cost the morning after. This is but a small taste of what is taking place in Occupied Palestine.

For decades, Israel has denied Palestinians their basic rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination, through ethnic cleansing, colonization, racial discrimination and military occupation. Despite ample condemnation of Israeli policies by the UN, other international bodies and prominent human rights organisations, the global community’s attempts to hold Israel accountable and enforce compliance with basic principles of law have proven futile. Israel’s crimes have continued with impunity.

Worldwide Appeal
Considering this continued failure, Palestinian civil society called for a worldwide citizens’ response. On 9 July 2005, a year after the International Court of Justice’s historic advisory opinion on the illegitimacy of Israel’s Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), a clear majority of Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognised in full compliance with international law.

The campaign for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is shaped by a rights-based approach and highlights the three broad sectors of the Palestinian people: the refugees, those under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinians in Israel. The cry urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

The BDS call was recognised by over 170 Palestinian political parties, organizations, trade unions and movements. The participants represent the refugees, Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

How does BDS Work?
Boycotts target products and companies (Israeli and international) that profit from the abuse of Palestinian rights, as well as Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions. Anyone can boycott Israeli goods, simply by ensuring that they don’t purchase produce made in Israel or by Israeli companies. Campaigners and groups call on consumers not to buy Israeli goods and on businesses not to buy or sell them. Consumers are also urged to engage and put pressure upon stores not to stock products of such origin.

They also call for a boycott against Israeli cultural and academic institutions which directly contribute to maintaining, defending or whitewashing the oppression of Palestinians, as Israel deliberately tries to boost its image internationally through academic and cultural relationships. As part of the boycott, academics, artists and consumers are campaigning against such collaboration and ‘rebranding’.

Divestment means targeting corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights and making sure that university investment portfolios and pension funds are not used to finance such companies. These efforts raise awareness about the reality of Israel’s policies and encourage companies to use their economic impact to pressure Israel to end its systematic denial of Palestinian rights.

Sanctions are a crucial part of demonstrating disapproval for a country’s actions. Israel’s relationship with various diplomatic and economic forums provides both an undeserved veneer of respectability and material backing for its crimes. By calling for sanctions against Israel, campaigners inform society about violations of international law and seek to end the involvement of other nations in these violations.

This campaign will be achieved by isolating Israel and forcing her to abide by international conventions and calls to restore Palestinian rights, as did the South African Apartheid regime. Yes, we do understand that this is not the ideal, but in examining the current situation, the BDS movement is a vital stepping stone from a position of apparent paralysis to a position of initiative in order to achieve the ideal.

The three strategies – all based in international law and several UN resolutions – ward off any reservations (or false accusations) that the BDS campaign is a malicious, blunt and punitive one which is out to punish Israelis. It is not. The BDS campaign is a practical, non-violent, goal-orientated and critical campaign that is uncompromisingly entrenched in international law – and one that is increasingly supported even by a sizeable and growing anti-Zionist Israeli community!

BDS: A Growing Movement
The BDS campaign is succeeding and gathering momentum at an accelerated speed.

Early last year, the UK’s fifth largest food retailer, the Co-Op, became one of the first companies in the world to implement a boycott of Israeli companies. A few months later, in the United States, the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, comprising of over 2 million members, voted to boycott two Israeli companies, Hadiklaim and Ahava Cosmetics.

Locally, in our own country, and in a move being celebrated as a South African boycott-of-Israel breakthrough, Karsten Farms, a leading South African agricultural company backed by one of South Africa’s primary finance bodies, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), severed its relations with an Israeli fresh produce cooperative earlier this year. The success of this campaign was a result of strategically selecting Karsten Farms coupled with almost two years of sustained engagement by various role players in the Muslim community.

It must be noted that the South African Muslim community played a significant role in this success by choosing not to purchase dates from Karsten Farms.

Prophetic Example
As in every occurrence in our lives, we take lesson as well as inspiration and guidance from our Noble Nabi Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam. Following the revelation which permitted fighting in the path of Allah, the Muslims in Madinah attempted to intercept trade caravans of the Quraish returning south from Syria. This was in order to isolate the Disbelieving Makkans financially so they would be unable to atack the Muslims. On this specific occasion, which led to the Battle of Badr, Nabi Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam got word that a caravan was passing by after making a substantial profit in Syria. After consulting with the Sahabah radhiyallahu anhum, it was decided to capture the caravan. However, Allah’s plan was different and Nabi Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam together with the Sahabah radhiyallahu anhum were instead given the victory over the Makkan Army. Therefore, as a strategy, trying to isolate the enemy or oppressor is also a Sunnah of Nabi Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam.

By us as Muslims taking the initiative and using our influence in the financial workings of South Africa and abroad, we are capable of making serious inroads into the economy of Apartheid Israel and her impunity on the world stage. In this way, each of us is able to participate, both in our individual, as well as societal capacities. We can even bring the same awareness in our children by teaching them where their products come from and where the money they spend goes to.

Ninth International Israeli Apartheid Week
From the 11 – 17 March 2013, the International Israeli Apartheid Week will take place around the globe. Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events, including rallies, lectures, cultural performances and workshops, which are held in cities and campuses across the world. More than 250 cities, including 16 South African universities and in over 35 South African cities and towns activities take place. IAW seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies toward the Palestinians and to rally support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Apartheid Israel.This is the ideal time wherein we can gather assistance and increase awareness to the plight of our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers in the blessed land of Palestine.

Individual and Collective Contribution
At this time we may already have doubts, where we may think that, why must I do it if so-and-so is not. This is truly incorrect. Allah will ask you as to what you have done to assist this Ummah of Nabi Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam. You will not be asked as to what someone else has done or not done. “And no bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden, and if one heavily laden calls another to (bear) his load, nothing of it will be lifted even though he be near of kin.” (35:18)

Another doubt which may arise is that how one person, like myself, can make a difference to an economy of a country supported by the so-called superpowers. This excuse too cannot never be used, since we as South Africans are living proof how individuals around the world put so much pressure on the Apartheid government of this country that it aided, if not, led to its utter collapse. We should also keep in mind that huge mountains are but made of tiny pebbles and each person’s little effort can make an enormous difference.

We, as the Muslim community in particular, need to steer clear of a “charity framing” of the Palestinian concern because this can turn a political story of resistance to occupation and oppression into a humanitarian one, of Palestinians continuously needing mere charity and help. A Palestinian woman, whose house was destroyed, commented: “Victims of war are not like victims of earthquakes. Our problem isn’t that we are poor and can’t care for ourselves. It’s that we’ve just been thrown out of our houses by an occupation force, by the Israeli army. That is the source of our suffering.”

Palestinians don’t always need our handouts; at a higher level, they need our solidarity. Responding to the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) offers us one of the most unbending methods of expressing our unity with the Palestinian people.

What role can we play in both personal and collective capacities?
• EDUCATE AND EQUIP OURSELVES: Learn about Apartheid Israel’s numerous breaches of international law and who supports the regime. Gather accurate and reliable information regarding companies which support or aid them in any way. (www.whoprofits.org)

• ACT ON WHAT IS LEARNT: We should take the necessary steps in implementing what we have learnt by actively involving ourselves in initiatives that raise the Palestinian Question as a human rights issue, hence, in the process, make Apartheid Israel accountable.

• PROPAGATE: Spread one’s knowledge regarding the sanctity of the land and its people. Spread information with regard to its history and the suffering of the Palestinians under an oppressive regime. Create awareness amongst our relatives and children, Muslim and non-Muslim friends, as to how we can help, even in the least. We can also take it upon ourselves to write to companies who support Israel to discourage their involvement in the oppression. So too, can we write in support of those people and organizations that have asserted the rights of Palestinian people.

May Allah ease the suffering of the Muslim Ummah throughout the globe and treat the oppressors as they deserve to be treated. Ameen.

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