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Pretoria - ANC Youth League acting president Ronald Lamola has called on the government to ban all Israeli products to demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Palestine.
Lamola accompanied ANC deputy secretary-general Jesse Duarte on her visit to the University of Pretoria on Wednesday to address an event marking the Ninth International Israel Apartheid Week Campaign.
The pair compared the treatment and oppression meted out to Palestinians by Israel with that of the majority by the apartheid regime, and said the ANC was unapologetic in its support for Palestine.
The gathering was attended by student movements at the university, including the ANC-affiliated SA Students Congress (Sasco).
Duarte said the relationship between the ANC and the Palestinian people had been built over many years and had been reaffirmed by the resolution taken by the party at its Mangaung conference last year.
The ANC resolved in Mangaung to support the application by the Palestinian Authority to the UN for recognition as an independent state and full membership of the UN, and supported the UN General Assembly resolution granting Palestine non-member observer status.
Duarte said the ANC would campaign tirelessly for the Israeli government to release all political prisoners and immediately cease the expansion of settlements in the West Bank.
“We must clarify that our support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination is purely and solely based on our deep belief in the equality of all humans, despite race, ethnicity, gender or religion,” Duarte said.
“We are therefore neither pro-Islam nor anti-Judaism, because we do not see the Palestinian question as a conflict between two religious groups but as a struggle for peace and human rights.”
Duarte said no South African, irrespective of race or religious persuasion, should be offended by the ANC’s “consistent offensive against a murderous regime over innocent people whose only sin is that they are Palestinians”.
“It is an anomaly that there are some, even in South Africa, who want us to keep quiet and let the Palestinians fight their own battles, as though we could have defeated apartheid without the power of international solidarity.
“To keep quiet under such circumstances would be very much bordering on actively supporting the Israeli apartheid. It would in fact imply the denialism of the South African apartheid.”
Duarte urged all organisations that supported Palestine to form a united solidarity campaign and to back the programmes and campaigns of Palestinian civil society.
Lamola called on the government to recall its ambassador if Israel did not “comply with ending apartheid”.
“This must be done to demonstrate our seriousness in opposition to its fundamental policies of apartheid and colonial occupation.
“As the ANC Youth League, we fully support the boycott of apartheid Israel and call on all South Africans to stop visiting Israel.
We must contribute to the international isolation of this brutal regime until it ends its policies of racial and ethnic discrimination against Palestinian people.”
Lamola said the youth league welcomed the Department of Trade and Industry’s initiative of labelling all products from the occupied Palestine territories, but wanted this to be extended to all Israeli products. “We encourage the same approach in sports, culture, and academic spheres,” he said.
He condemned the visit to Wits University of Israeli pianist Yossi Reshef.
Reshef’s concert was disrupted on Tuesday night. He had to be escorted off the stage when members of pro-Palestinian organisations stormed the hall.