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Israeli Apartheid Week sees massive buy-in from South African youth

Nabeela Vadi – Cii News | 12 Jumadal Ula 1436/04 March 2015

This week the annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW 2015) held globally commenced on Monday 2nd March 2015 ending 8th March 2015. IAW serves as a reminder every year of the ongoing struggle of the Palestinian people in the occupied lands of Palestine, now, unacceptably known as ‘Israel’.

As encouraged worldwide people are to participate in activities showing solidarity with the oppressed of Palestine, or, they could simply wear the colours of the Palestinian flag. In South Africa, university campuses across the country participate actively in the struggle for freedom of the Palestinian people by creating events that bring about awareness.

Azhar Sakoor of the Palestinian Solidarity Front (PSF) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) encouraged passerbyes at the UJ campus to send messages of support, at an information table held by the PSF that is stationed at the hub of the campus for the remainder of this week.Sakoor says “It seemed like SAUJS ( South African Union of Jewish Students) felt threatened by our strong presence and had tried to have the location of our information table moved but after moving the first time and still seeing success we proved to UJ that we were in accordance with the rules and they could not move us.”

The aim of the information table is to give students information about the Illegal Occupation of Palestine; information on IAW, reasons for Boycotting Woolworths and also serves as a platform to voice students support to the people of Palestine by either taking a picture or a video waving the Palestinian Flag and a message of support.

MSA UJ with the assistance of UJ PSF members displayed to students across the UJ Kingsway Campus how Palestinians are being evicted from their homes with a mock demonstration; by physically removing students at random to leave the spot they have settled on. Confused students, then question their removal and hence the struggle of the Palestinians are put forward to students to beable to understand the situation in the occupied territories.

Similar events take place at each University nationwide where PSF and MSA organisations exist. Student involvement allows for the youth to be able to resist oppression and speak up for what is right.

Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News, 2015-02-27

((( Listen to the Podcast here ))) 

 

The ‘special’ treatment that Democratic Alliance MP and member of the federal executive Yusuf Cassim received from Ben Gurion Airport security on his recent educational visit to Israel has raised questions about the ‘friendly relationship of South Africa’s official opposition party with Israel.

In a letter to Ben Gurion Airport security, Michael Freeman, deputy Israeli ambassador to South Africa, wrote: “We implore you to treat Mr. Yusuf Cassim with generosity and respect during the security checks. Please pass it along to all security officials to check Mr. Yusuf Cassim in a way that will leave a good impression and preserve the good relations between the DA [Democratic Alliance, Cassim’s party] and Israel.”

According to Haaretz, The Democratic Alliance is a liberal party that takes a much less critical view of Israel than the ruling, left-wing African National Congress.

The Democratic Alliance has been criticized on numerous instances for not taking a stance on the Palestinian issue but rather fence sitting. The party maintains that they are neither pro-Israeli, neither pro-Palestinian but pro-peace and would like to see a negotiated settlement between both sides.

But what is the stance of Yusuf Cassim from the DA who in his personal capacity is a fervent supporter of the Palestinian cause?

Cassim said he did not receive the ‘special treatment’ as requested by deputy Israeli ambassador to South Africa Michael Freeman.  “I didn’t use that letter until my very last when I was exiting the country at Ben Gurion Airport.

“I was actually going to miss my flight because of the way that I believe I was targeted and it was clear racial profiling that was taking place, being stopped even before going into the airport and being interrogated and searched and having my bags turned inside and out,” said Cassim.

Cassim mentioned that he sought assistance from the Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk who was also exiting the country.  “I pointed Arthur Lenk out to them and he was forced to then come and speak with them.”

Cassim reiterated that “good relations” between Israel and the DA as described in the letter is not the official position of the party.

“We never ever released any statement or any communication that has ever contained either the spirit of those words. This actually upset me a great deal and that’s why I’ve launched formal complaints because this letter is written in Hebrew and there’s no one in the delegation that can understand and read Hebrew.”

Cassim said the entire delegation that travelled to Palestine received the letter from the Israeli embassy which was to facilitate the easy entry and exit of the country.

He said the head of the delegation met with the Palestinian ambassador Abdel Hafiz Nofal and Israeli ambassador Arthur Lenk before departing South Africa.

Cassim said that currently the DA does not have a foreign policy on Palestine and on the Middle East “We are going through a very sensitive period and a very critical period within the party where we are developing those policies and I believe the effort we put in now is going to be very significant as to whether or not those polices are correct or not or whether they reflect the conditions on the ground.”

Asked if he should not have embarked on the trip independently because of the pressures of a pro-Palestine community instead of with the DA, Cassim said the party does not have funding to go on any trips independently.

However Cassim said he has not ruled out going on trips to Palestine with Pro-Palestinian organizations.

“I am in discussions to make sure that we can go with other pro-Palestinian organizations…And we’ve all agreed that we need to go on another tour before we can even sit down and have a policy.

Asked by Radio Islam morning drive host Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat if he can unequivocally state that as a member of the federal executive of the DA the party is not a friend of Israel that there is no good relations between the DA and Israel, Cassim said: “Yes I can do that.”

Cassim said that there was no need for members of the hierarchy of the DA such as leader Helen Zille and parliamentary leader Musi Maimane to echo that the DA does not have good relations with Israel thereby contradicting the deputy ambassador to Israel Michael Freeman, as his clarification as member of the federal executive should be sufficient.

So does Cassim believe Israel is an Apartheid state?

“As an individual I believe that Israel is an Apartheid state,” said Cassim.

Cassim also believes as a member of the DA, the party’s policies should move into the direction of classifying Israel as an Apartheid state.

“I believe it should and based on my experiences that’s what I would argue for,” said Cassim.

Cassim saga should jolt DA from its Mid-East fence sitting

Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Opinion | 12 Jumadal Ula 1436/03 March 2015

A letter written by Israeli deputy ambassador to SA, Michael Freeman, to Ben Gurion Airport security did nothing to shield the Democratic Alliance MP, Yusuf Cassim, from the apartheid country’s psychological violence reserved for people of African and Asian descent – regardless of their political affiliation and nationality. In the same letter, Freeman, who mentioned Cassim by name, urged the Israelis to treat this man “in a way that will leave a good impression and preserve the good relations between the DA and Israel”.

In an interview with Sabahul Khair, Cassim, who declined to say who funded the DA delegation’s trip, said he did not know what the contents of the letter, which he presented to the authorities upon arriving in Israel, were because it was written in Hebrew. How telling. It seems Cassim – one of a handful Muslim MPs in the DA, a liberal party whose failure to express solidarity with the subjugated Palestinians speaks volumes – sprung into action after a copy of Freeman’s letter found its way to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.

The DA, reported the Israeli paper, takes a much less critical view of Israel than what it said was the left-wing ANC. In response, the ANC Youth League, which referred to CapeGate (the local company it said supplies equipment for the construction of Israel apartheid Wall), wants to know who funded DA MPs and what the purpose of the trip was.

Regardless of the language, or absence of Hebrew speakers in Cassim’s delegation, it’s natural for bearers to want to know what’s being conveyed. He wouldn’t be bothered. But, now that the truth is out, will the Helen Zille-led DA, that tends to distance itself from the genocidal Zionist regime, take action against Israel for supposed fraud beyond just the MP’s formal complaint? Will it die quietly? After all, as Cii noted in the lead up to the 2014 polls, the South African Zionist Federation, published a full page advertorial wherein it rated the DA as the “Friend of Israel”.

The same DA, alleged Al-Jama’ah, accepted R1bn from a known political Zionist (the mould that, in line with the Theodore Herzl teachings, advocates violence and “collective punishment” to “cleanse” Israel of indigenous Palestinians). At the time, Cii reported that some Muslim party leaders go a step far and claim that the party is ‘pro-Palestine’. However, it has since been alleged that not only do senior DA party leaders attend Israeli Independence Day celebrations but also oppose anti-Israel activities at universities and do not pass anti-Israel resolutions. In its report on what amounts to a diplomatic faux pas, with the young Muslim leader Haaretz

Much as Cassim screams ignorance and tries much to distance his party from the apartheid state, that last year slaughtered more than 2,200 Palestinians, fellow Semites whose crime was being Palestinian, Freeman’s assertion doesn’t seem misplaced in any manner. The downside is that airport security didn’t buy into his charade to sell a sanitised version to Cassim, who, critically, belong to the South African Muslim community.

“There was racial profiling that had taken place. Before I entered the airport I had been searched and had the contents of my luggage emptied, clothing removed and I was told derogatory things that I’ve spoken about before. I was interrogated by four different people in the airport,” Cassim told Cii, adding that the Ben Gurion introduction to apartheid practices was just the beginning. It happened even during his visit to the troubled and bleeding lands.

“[Freeman’s letter] made certain assertions and made certain pleas to the security forces in Israel in order to facilitate entry and exit into the country, and specific treatment in the country by the security forces there,” he added. “The letter contained specific things that we did not know it contained specifically as it was written in Hebrew.”

Last year, Itani Rasalanavho, a local activist opposed to Israeli’s unjust laws and holocaust, lost count of the times he witnessed terror and dehumanisation of Palestinian civilians by Israeli soldiers. The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel, which took Rasalanavho to the region, noted with concern the incessant attacks on Muslims who visit Al Aqsa Masjid. The activist moaned the arrest of youngsters. “The one that touched me a lot was the arrest of a physically-challenged child in front of a settlement, Quriat Arba, in Hebron Al Khalil (notorious for its apartheid checkpoints). This young man was arrested and dragged by soldiers for about 15 minutes,” he said.

These are the types of things Cassim is yet to see. It’s also what Freeman would like to insulate him from. If the young MP wants to know the truth, he will before long. If or when he does, this parliamentarian will appreciate that fence-sitting while any community is slaughtered while the mighty and powerful look away, and spew propaganda, is anything but liberal.

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