Stop the Gaza genocide, say parties and civil society

Retired High Court Judge Siraj Desai addresses the media at Community House, Salt River, on his support for Palestine. Picture: Tracey Adams / IOL News

Retired High Court Judge Siraj Desai addresses the media at Community House, Salt River, on his support for Palestine. Picture: Tracey Adams / IOL News

Published Nov 9, 2023


Political parties, organisations, and trade unions gathered for a media conference in Salt River, Cape Town, on Thursday, calling for the genocide in Gaza to stop and for people to come in their numbers to the march planned for Saturday.

Representatives from Muslim Judicial Council SA (MJC SA), Al-Quds Foundation (SA), African National Congress, Pan Africanist Congress, Jews of Palestine, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, mosques, churches, and trade unions such as the SA Federation of Trade Unions and the Congress of South African Trade Unions were present. Retired Western Cape High Court judge Siraj Desai was also in attendance.

Throughout the conference, many parties reiterated that the march is not anti-Jewish.

The MJC SA said faith-based organisations, civil society, political parties, and all solidarity groups plan to embark on a series of protests in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“We declare that our action campaign aims to restore equilibrium, peace, and harmony in the Holy Land of Palestine, which is a shared sacred space for the Abrahamic faiths. We believe that the dispossessed land of the Palestinian people should be returned to its people. We call for the right to self-determination of Palestinians on their native lands, from the river to the sea.

The MJC continued: “Gaza cannot be ethnically cleansed through a genocidal military campaign. We cannot accept another Nakba in 2023 in Gaza, similar to the first Nakba of 1948. The Palestinians have an inalienable right to resist settler colonialism and apartheid, which is a crime against humanity by all means necessary within international law. We demand the right of return for all Palestinian refugees with full reparation.

Desai echoed the sentiments, saying, “I have no hesitation to state unequivocally that the attack on the people of Palestine is not based upon law; it is based upon idealogical undertones. A legitimate order in the country needs to be asserted.

Desai noted, however, that the two-state solution is extremely difficult to implement and “appears to be stillborn” as it has not bore any fruit since its inception. He has noted that ultimately it is not our decision to make but instead the decision of the people in Palestine. He said whatever solution is come up with won't be a legal one but will be a political one, and it will depend on how the situation develops.

“What we stand for and advocate strongly for is full rights for all the people of Palestine, and the returnees must return so people can resume their lives without colonial settlers hanging over their heads. The invasion of Palestine, the invasion of the Gaza Strip, is a breach of not only international law but a fundamental breach of common decency.”

On the topic of international law, Desai added: “Now Mr Karim (Karim Khan) is the chief prosecutor of international criminal law. He is a total disgrace to the law. He rushed to prosecute Vladimir Putin, but he is silent in the face of an unfolding genocide.

The ANC said it’s important for them to support the march and stand in solidarity with Palestine.

The Palestine Solidarity Group elaborates on what the demands are. “What brings us together is the common goal to stop the genocide but we are also demanding for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, and we want the South African government to cut economic and political ties with the Zionists of Israel. We feel our government can do much more. We want an immediate and unconditional ceasefire.”

Jamie Rosengarten of South African Jews for a Free Palestine said they will also be attending the march. “While we started as a small organisation, our numbers have grown significantly, and I think the reason for that is that many of us on a spiritual level are quite disturbed because our Judaism preserves life as our primary value.

“There is something very disturbing about the Zionist idea that the only way we can be secure is to be separate and that we cannot live together. You don’t have to be religious to go to the march; you just need to be a human being. As South Africans, we know apartheid was wrong.”

The theme of the conference was "United Against Genocide". It comes in light of the ongoing attacks on Gaza and surrounding regions.

The death toll from Israeli air strikes has risen to 10 569, including 4 324 children.