And Siyabonga Sithole
The situation in Palestine and the similarities between South Africa and the occupation of Palestine by Israeli forces dominated the opening session of the 15th Greater Johannesburg Regional Conference on Friday.
Palestinian ambassador to South Africa, Hanan Jarrar, led the opening address highlighting the Palestinian’s struggle for self-determination and encouraged the ANC to continue lending its support to the people of Palestine whose struggle for freedom has been raging for more than 75 years.
Jarrar was welcomed in song and dance by ANC members of Greater Johannesburg who voiced their support and Solidarity with Palestinians amid chants of “we support free Palestine”.
Jarrar’s address comes a few weeks after the recent attack on pallbearers at the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Aklem who was brutally killed by Israeli forces and other killings of Palestinian children and women by an uncaring and unjust regime that continues to wreck havoc against innocent people.
“We raise our fist with the ANC in unity as you undertake to renew and defend the South African democratic case. We look to the ANC as a catalyst for international solidarity with Palestine in our march for freedom, peace, justice and equality,” she said.
Jarrar said they look forward to seeing the city of Joburg back in the hands of ANC to re-establish the 2015 winning of city of Joburg and Palestinian City of Ramala.
“The ANC has embodied this solidarity and called to rename one Sandton's prominent road ‘Sandton Drive’ after Leila Khalid a member of a movement Popular Front Liberation of Palestine. We hope to see this coming into reality soon,” Jarrar said.
She said in the past 24 hours, three Palestinians were killed and one of them is a journalist who is a mother of two.
With the occupation of Palestine by Israeli forces having begun over 75 years ago and the ongoing attacks and oppression of Palestinians, Jarrar said she looks forward to a day when the people of Palestine would be free like the people of South Africa were able to end Apartheid.
We need the international community and for South Africa and like minded organizations such as the ANC to champion our campaign to free the people of Palestine from oppression. We look forward to an end of the oppression of the people of Palestine because no Apartheid regime stays for long. We believe that the occupation of Palestine will one day come to an end,” she said.
In a bid to put pressure on the world to act against the oppression of Palestinians which continues unabated almost 50 years since the occupation of Palestine by Israel in 1948.
Outgoing treasurer of the greater Johannesburg region, Dada Morero said the people of Palestine are not fighting against Jews but fighting for the right to exist in their own country.
“All sorts of methods have been used to keep Palestine population under control. The Israeli forces can even close water supply for three to six months for no reason in an effort to frustrate them. They even hire Ethiopian soldiers to work at national key points.
This is the same Apartheid experience but more extreme than the South African Apartheid experience.
The people of Palestine have been denied their rights to exist in their own land. It must be noted that the struggle of the people of Palestine is not a struggle against Jews, but a struggle is for a peaceful and just existence and coexistence,” Morero said.
Head of the ANC political school and former member of the mayoral committee in Johannesburg, Chris Vondo gave the first session's vote of thanks and encouraged the Palestine ambassador to mobilise the international community in finding solutions for Palestine to win its struggle for self-determination.
“Israeli Apartheid policies have contributed to the destruction of more than 700 Palestinian buildings, the killing of children and the killing of women and thousands of Palestinians people including journalists.
These policies of Israeli Apartheid contravene the 1973 United Nations Convention which declares that Apartheid policies are against human rights ...The success of the ANC led struggle against Apartheid was won on the ability of the ANC to mobilize support of the International community. The success of the ANC struggle for freedom was our ability to mobilize support.,” he said.