Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 04 Shawaal 1436/21 July 2015
Just months after denying a visa to Blade Nzimande, a Cabinet Minister and Communist Party leader, probably for his opposition to Israeli apartheid and subjugation of Palestinians, the Zionist state is now accused of hoodwinking young ANC members to one of the many “Israeli propaganda holiday trips” as anti-apartheid stalwart and Rivonia co-accused Denis Goldberg. For Obed Bapela, a government official and ANC bigwig, the invitation underscores Israel’s desperate “dirty game” to be accepted by the ruling party – a movement known for its support for Palestine.
“Israel is desperate, (and) is playing a dirty game by parading young people who might not be understanding the whole situation as members of the African National Congress. Firstly, I’ve never sent any delegation to Israel neither did we endorse any delegation of young people – and therefore the ANC distances itself from any allegation that they were sent by the ANC,” said Bapela, a party veteran who also serves as a deputy minister.
As a matter of policy, the ruling party – one of the key players to dismantle Pretoria’s institutionalised apartheid, a crime against humanity – identifies with the people of Palestine, who have been living in subjugation and terror since 1948. Palestinians, on the other hand, live, chiefly, in Bantustans – Gaza Strip and West Bank – and are treated like third-class citizens on their ancestral lands. Unlike the South African youngsters who undertook a “propaganda” trip, Palestinians, of all ages, have no freedom of movement within and outside Palestine. Even in the Bantustans, where they are crammed, Palestinians are victims of segregationist policies (such as apartheid checkpoints) and what is known as “collective punishment”. The plan is to swell the high numbers that are already in exile. Last year, Israel massacred more than 500 children for just being Palestinian. In total, that massacre took no less than 2,000 lives.
These are some of the factors make the ANC deride the Binyamin Netanyahu-led regime’s publicity stunt, argued Bapela, adding that Morocco and Taiwan – both desperate for recognition – have in, in the past, played such a card. For Bapela, the question is who sent the young South Africans, from local universities, and said to belong to an ANC-aligned student movement. It boils down to sheer desperation on the part of Israel which knows exactly where the ruling party stands regarding the question of continued subjugation and apartheid, the party leader noted.
“These are desperate measures by the Israeli government, which desperately wants the ANC to support them. They know our stance. We’re on the side of the Palestinians. The cause is for the Palestinians to be free and for the State of Palestine to exist side-by-side with that of Israel,” said Bapela, explaining the ruling party’s clear stance to not play buddy with the Zionist state. The new Economic Freedom Fighters sings from the same tune but, in contrast, the Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party and African Christian Democratic Party are friendly to Israel. And, indeed, these parties unashamedly downplay the plight of the Palestinians and perpetually defend their oppressors.
Whether the latest is one of “Israeli propaganda holiday trips” or not is beside the point. For a party that swears by international solidarity and equality for all and has openly boycotted the apartheid state as part of its contribution to Palestine’s liberation struggle to end Semite-on-Semite oppression the trip raises questions of consciousness. If ANC members, university students, for that matter, could be hoodwinked and be part of “Israeli propaganda holiday trips”, what happened to political education? Could this be a question of economics – in the same way that sugar daddies lure (poor) young kids? Where to from here for the young ANC members who went to the Zionist state?
“We’ll definitely find out who they are… who asked them to go there, and then obviously engage them on the whole issue of their visit to Israel because [the ANC’s position is that] no formal delegation will be sent to Israel except if they are going to be mediation on the cause of the Palestinians or as special envoys,” Bapela said, adding that if the said ANC members misrepresented themselves, they’ll be dealt with. “However, if they were paraded by the Israeli government then that would be seen as the dirty game that Israel is now playing as Taiwan did at one point and, also, as Morocco did recently with another group that claimed to be representing the ANC and yet they were not sent by the African National Congress.”
For the record, no money provided for Israeli holiday propaganda trips
27 July 2015
The human rights and Palestine solidarity organisation BDS South Africa categorically denies ever providing R40 000 to “buy-out” participants who were part of the recent controversial Israeli propaganda holiday trip.
In fact, it was the organisers of the Israeli propaganda trip (the SA Israel Forum) that forced the young South African students to sign a contract including a penalty clause that read, and we quote: “Accepting the invitation to come on this [Israeli holiday] trip, I understand that if I do not show up at the airport for departure [to Israel], I will be responsible to reimburse the South Africa-Israel Forum and South African Union of Jewish Students my full R40 000 (forty-thousand rands) participation cost with [sic] 30 days of 4 July 2015.” The young students also had to undertake in their contracts that they would “agree to keep the [Israeli propaganda] tour itinerary confidential and will not share it with third parties.” Click here or see attached for relevant extract from SA-Israel Forum contract.
The Israeli propaganda holiday trip was organised by the pro-Israeli “SA-Israel Forum” which was exposed a few years ago as being funded by and linked to the steel manufacturing company CapeGate. This company — in violation of international law — provides and profits from supplying material to Israel for the construction of its “Apartheid Wall”. Cape Gate has also been listed by South Africa’s ruling ANC party – along with G4S Security and Caterpillar – as companies, amongst others, to be excluded from State contracts and tenders due to their complicity in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine (click here).
Though BDS South Africa enjoys working relations with the ANC, ANC Youth League, SASCO, SACP, COSAS, YCL and other MDM structures as well as various other organizations we do not feel it is our place, as an organization, to be speaking on or interfering with the pending disciplinary charges against those who went on the recent Israeli propaganda holiday trip – unless called on by the various organizations. The decision to suspend, summon or hold disciplinary hearings by SASCO, ANC YL, YCL and other organisations for members from within their organizations who defied their organisational policies, positions, resolutions and decisions (to not travel to Israel and to support the boycott of Israel) is the prerogative of those organisations.
In November 2014, South Africa’s ruling party and leader of the ruling Alliance, the ANC, took a decision that in supporting the “the call for a cultural, academic and education boycott of Israel” it would include “travel bans for members and leaders of the ANC, the Alliance, Members of Cabinet, Members of Parliament and Government Officials.” Various other youth and student organisations have also adopted similar resolutions in support of the Palestinian people and the non-violent Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel campaign. Accepting an invite to Israel on a propaganda holiday trip organised by the SA Israel Forum, it would seem, is clearly a violation of these organisations’ policies, positions and resolutions.
In addition to defying organisational policies, members who went on the recent Israeli propaganda holiday trips received letters and pleas, both privately and publicly, from Palestinian students, civil society and churches all urging the young South Africans not to partake in the Israeli holiday propaganda trips. A group of progressive Israelis (who are critical of Israeli policies) also wrote (click here) to the students and young people urging them not to go on the Israeli propaganda trip which, they explained, was biased toward the Israeli Government and Military’s agenda and a whitewashing of Israeli crimes against the indigenous Palestinians. Click here for an in-depth article published in yesterday’s Sunday Tribune.
BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL in SOUTH AFRICA (BDS SOUTH AFRICA)
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Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 04 Shawaal 1436/21 July 2015
Months after she threw the matter out of court on the basis of what was termed “gravity”, the international court’s chief prosecutor was last week ordered to consider a comprehensive probe into Israel’s war crimes, which left Gaza-destined aid workers and activists on the Mavi Marmara in 2010. The latest decision would be viewed in a positive light by pro-Palestinian activists and, among people who seek to see justice being carried out without fear or favour, those who lost their loved ones when the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) unleashed terror on aid workers.
Given the latest decision, Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor at the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), could just reopen the probe of IDF’s murders when the force’s personnel opened fire on the aid flotilla. As with subsequent but unsuccessful flotillas, the Mavi Marmara sought to ship aid to the occupied Palestinian territory and force Israel to end the debilitating blockade. Palestinians in this Bantustan, the world’s largest open-air prison, have had their freedom of movement extensively curtailed by Israel’s Zionist rules, a development that has in turn transformed Gaza – where the IDF killed around 2,200 people last year – into a humanitarian crisis.
“The humanitarian condition in Gaza is at its lowest level. The suffering there is unbelievable,” Ismail Moola of the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance (PSA) told Cii as the now-unsuccessful fifth Gaza Freedom Flotilla, organised by the Gaza Freedom Movement and civil-based IHH, sought to break Israel’s siege in the blockaded crammed Bantustan.
In the 2010 raid, nine aid workers and activists were killed with scores injured by the IDF while 10 of the Zionist state’s soldiers are said to have been injured during the clash with Mavi Marmara passengers. Israel’s blockade and violence used by its soldiers are deemed legal by some. Hitherto, plans to get Israel to stand trial have failed.
“When that initial pronouncement was made, about seven or eight months ago, it had some positive in it as well, in the sense that the prosecutor, at that time, did agree that there was a case to answer. But, she felt that – because of the terminology she used, gravity, in the sense that nine or 10 people lost their lives – it did not warrant an ICC kind of prosecution. The terminology she used was: gravity. She interpreted it as meaning that the ICC is more a court where there has been a mass killing. However at that time we were disappointed,” said Moola in an interview.
The PSA activist explained, in an interview with Sabahul Khair, that Mavi Marmara had been floating on a Comoros island flag. That said the Comoros, which had brought the case to the ICC, appealed against the interpretation of the Hague-based court’s prosecutor. The island nation, and the world, prevailed, believed Moola. Two of the three judges tasked with the case concluded that Bensouda had erred in her decision to cite gravity – the grounds for her to declare the Hague court’s file closed – and thus a chance for her to reopen the case. But, it can still go either way.
“This was a huge victory for us in terms of bringing Israel to accountability,” said Moola, one of the activists who rallied behind the 2015 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. “The last time that Israel was sanctioned in an international arena, in terms of its actions, for me, was in 1967, and we go to Resolution 242 where the [United Nations] Security Council agreed that the occupation of the West Bank, and, at that time, even Gaza, conflicts with international norms.”
Subsequent to that, notwithstanding the several massacres that Tel Aviv has committed, ostensibly to fight what the Zionist state terms Palestinian “terrorists”, there has been no against Israel. Last year’s Semite-on-Semite massacre, which left more than 500 children dead, is a case in point. “We are very proud that the Comoros, who may have been under tremendous pressure themselves not to bring this case forward, have been resolute and committed.”
Until now, Moola reminded Cii listeners that not a single country has had the courage to bring Israel to account in an international arena. The island nation’s move, assuming that the chief prosecutor yields to the two judges’ order, could also be a positive development for Israel because it would allow the apartheid ethnocracy, which, like pre-1994 South Africa, discriminates on the basis of complexion and origin, to come forward and account for its actions. “[Israel] has always been protected in terms of the vetoing powers, especially by the United States,” Moola said.
“We are hoping that [the chief prosecutor] will take the alternative view and reopen the case,” noted the activist.