Internationally acclaimed anti-apartheid activist Dr Allan Boesak delivered a keynote address at the Gatesville Mosque/Masjidul-Quds in Cape Town on Friday afternoon regarding the attacks on Palestine and called on South Africans to “open their hearts and refuge” to Palestinian children.
The theme of his address was “Palestine. Seventy-five years of occupation—how long still?”, with a large part of his address focusing on how much more the Palestinian children have to endure.
Boesak, who has been and is a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, said it was a privilege to address the matter during Friday prayers.
He started by saying how Jesus Christ faced persecution from the moment of his birth when King Herod ordered the execution of all male children who were two-years-old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem.
He then drew attention to the plight of Palestinians and asked, “How long (will the occupation be)? How long for the children?”
He elaborated and explained how, throughout history, children were more often than not on the receiving end of war and conflict.
“If they will not be killed by guns, they will be killed due to insufficient food or medicine. There are still children in the rubble. So I ask: How long for the children?
“The children who survived have seen indescribable horrors. They will be traumatised for life. Children who have seen their families killed in front of their eyes. While this is happening, the world debates if this is genocide or if this is extermination. The world talks about theories and ideas. In the meantime, the children are dying.”
Boesak said it is time for South Africans to take responsibility.
“We hear the cries of children differently than how the American government hears it. But we must not dilly-dally. There are still South African parties that proudly say they stand for Israel. They come with their bloodied hands and bloodied consciences, asking you to vote for them while our children are dying. Yes, they are our children.”
Boesak slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he cannot build the future off the deaths of children and off the deaths of others.
Boesak compared the brutality that the Palestinians are going through now is the same as when they experienced it under Roman rule.
“In the first century, Palestine was occupied and ruled by a brutal Roman empire. Just like in the 21st century, they are ruled by a brutal Israeli system. The oppression is the same, and the brutality is the same.“
Boesak explained how imperative it is to stand for the Palestinian cause as Africans.
“In the Book of Matthew, when the parents of Jesus heard the decree of King Herod, they fled, and Africa opened its arms to them. We are the children of Africa. So now we have to open our arms and give refuge to the children of Gaza. And what is this refuge? By raising our voices when we can, standing for Palestine when we can, calling an end to the war, by marching, let the world see what we mean.
“With this refuge, we proclaim that the cry ‘How long?’ will be replaced by ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine is free.’”
Boesak added that the only way this will happen is if we stand together and fight for their cause, saying, “Palestine deserves it. The children deserve it.”
Boesak is internationally respected for his independent views on human rights. He was at the forefront of the United Democratic Front (UDF), which spearheaded the civil uprising that eventually brought about a democratic transition in our country.