Calls to boycott Israel continue in SA

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian supporters gathered on the Sea Point promenade on Saturday for a National Day of Action. Picture: Armand Hough/Independent Newspapers

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian supporters gathered on the Sea Point promenade on Saturday for a National Day of Action. Picture: Armand Hough/Independent Newspapers

Published Oct 30, 2023


Cape Town - Calls for the South African government to close the Israeli Embassy in South Africa and to legislate a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel continued as more than 250 people gathered for a National Day of Action in solidarity with Palestine.

The “occupy” Sea Point promenade demonstration was organised on Saturday by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and supported by a number of political parties, trade unions, civil society groups and faith-based organisations.

On Friday, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce” between Israel and Hamas, and the “continuous, sufficient and unhindered” provision of life-saving supplies and services for Palestinians in Gaza.

The declaration was largely ignored as Israel intensified its military aggression in Gaza, resulting in the complete cut off of communication networks. According to the health authority, 8 000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli bombardment, the majority of whom were women and children.

PSC Cape Town chairperson Jaamia Galant said a letter and a memorandum of demands were sent through its affiliate organisation SA BDS Coalition, to president Cyril Ramaphosa and Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) Minister Naledi Pandor.

A response was received from the Presidency directing the organisation to remarks made by Ramaphosa expressing solidarity at the Cairo Peace Summit recently, and further told the organisation to approach the Dirco minister.

“We have done so, the minister of International Relations has told us, as the BDS, we must go and speak to the unions because it is the unions that can mandate their workers to stop handling trade goods. But we as PSC and BDS are saying that's not good enough. We need our government to legislate BDS.”

Another Day of Action to call attention to these demands will be held on Wednesday, during a rally from Keizersgracht Street, District Six, to the Cape Town City Hall from around 10am.

“Our demand is for the government to expel the Israeli embassy staff, to legislate BDS etc, but it is also a recognition and a demand of what some of the people of South Africa want, and that is against austerity measures which are going to be discussed on November 1 in the budget caucus.”

The National Prosecuting Authority was also condemned for not prosecuting South Africans serving in the Israeli Defence Force, with a complaint of such a case filed in 2014.

Compared to previous protests with invited speakers, this one had taken a different approach, allowing attendees to share why they have mobilised in solidarity.

Speakers denounced the situation as a war or conflict between equal sides, instead calling it genocide, colonisation, and ethnic cleansing.

Sherwood Park resident, Fatimah Davids said: “This is a humanitarian crisis, an ecological crisis, a spiritual crisis. We have examples of one country dropping the equivalent of one atomic bomb on a population the size of Cape Town and less than. The impact of that is going to affect us and future generations, thousands and thousands of lives that's going to be affected by nuclear waste that is laying on Gaza and on its people.”

Davids said airlines offering flights and information to travel to Tel Aviv should be boycotted. “We have no business dealing with companies like El Al who offer flights to Tel Aviv.”

“Against apartheid South Africa, it was a broad based faith movement. We need to speak to our Christian friends and family. We need to speak to a Jewish friends and families. Evangelical Christianity that asks for birthright trips in order to occupy Palestine is immoral. You cannot ask people to steal the homes of people in the land of Christ. That is immoral.”

Attendee Cassi Goodman said feelings of helplessness prompted her to join.

“I’ve just been watching people running around with their dead children in their arms and you’re not there, you can’t help them, but if this helps, we will try.”

PSC member Abeeda Adams said: “Every time we hear the ANC government saying they support a two-state solution. And our demand is very clear, we support one secular state of Palestine. We furthermore say unequivocally that the people of Palestine have the right to exist, they have the right to exist.”

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Cape Argus