By: Irvin Jim / Source: NUMSA General Secretary / The Dawn News / March 14, 2018
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) demands the immediate release of Ahed Tamimi. The 17 year old teenager has been illegally detained by the racist Apartheid state of Israel. In January Ahed was charged with twelve charges including assault. Tamimi is an activist and together with her family she has been leading struggles against Israel’s illegal occupation of her West Bank Village Nabhi Saleh, an area whose working class population is known for its activism and which is the constant target of raids and arrests by Israeli soldiers.
A video of her slapping an Israeli soldier went viral last year. Shortly before the incident, her 15 year old cousin had been severely wounded after being shot in the face at point blank range by Israeli soldiers. Her trial began in the middle of February but has resumed again in an Israeli military court this week.
Tamimi is one of over three hundred Palestinian children who are languishing in Israeli jails. Israel is a racist state which oppresses the people of Palestine in the same brutal and violent fashion, as the immoral Nationalist Party government which implemented the Apartheid system. Israel’s establishment as a state in 1948 resulted in the displacement of more than 750,000 Palestinians and the deaths of thousands more.
The Palestinians who remained in the territory that became Israel were subject to military law in the form of curfews, travel restrictions and arbitrary detention without fair trial. The state of Israel routinely tortures prisoners, including children.
Palestinian people have no rights in the land of their birth after it was stolen from
them by Israel. Their settlements are routinely being demolished by the Israeli government and hundreds of people are forcibly removed from their homes every year. Palestinians are forced to use a ‘dompas’ or permits if they travel outside of their villages.
NUMSA condemns the Apartheid state of Israel and its illegal detention of Ahed Tamimi. We call on all progressive working class formations locally and internationally to condemn and expose the ruthless Israeli government for its brutality. NUMSA supports the working class of Palestine as they struggle for equality and justice, and Hlanganani, our region in Tshwane, has committed itself to launching a campaign against the oppressive Israeli state.
Having experienced Apartheid, we condemn the oppressive government of Israel. We will never forget that it was the Israeli government’s close military ties with the South African Apartheid Regime that prolonged Apartheid and the oppression of the masses of South Africa. Neither will we forget that it was our Palestinian comrades who supported our liberation struggle, at a time when many had deserted our liberation movements.
We demand the release of all Palestinian political prisoners immediately, especially child prisoners. We demand that Israel ends its occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and that it dismantles the Apartheid Wall.
NUMSA RECOGNIZES EAST JERUSALEM AS THE CAPITAL CITY OF PALESTINE
NUMSA recognizes that East Jerusalem is the capital city of Palestine. We will continue to denounce the occupation of Apartheid Israel in Jerusalem. We reject the announcement made by Donald Trump earlier in the year to declare East Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the decision to transfer the U.S embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. We demand the total shut down of the Israeli Embassy in South Africa and for diplomatic relations between the two countries to be severed. The battle against Apartheid was intensified through sanctions. We demand that sanctions be imposed on Israel as well.
It is for this reason that NUMSA supports the #IsraeliApartheidWeek which has been launched in South Africa this week. This initiative is an international series of self-organized rallies, protests, lectures, cultural performances, concerts, sports events, films and workshops held annually in over 250 cities, communities and campuses across the globe. The event will run from 12 March to Sunday 17 March, 2018. This event will shed light on the struggles of the Palestinian people. The theme for 2018 is focusing on Israel’s cruel treatment of Africans. We urge all our comrades to support this initiative and to participate in the event as a demonstration of international solidarity.
An injury to one is an injury to all!
Address to the Palestine ?? Solidarity Rally at UCT,
Zwelinzima Vavi, SAFTU General Secretary 13 March 2018
On behalf of the South African Federation of Trade Unions I thank you inviting me to speak at this important discussion. No matter how important the issues closer to home, we must never allow the plight of the people of Palestine to be forgotten.
Che Guevara’s statement that revolutionaries must have inner love to be true revolutionaries must ring bells tonight in this hall and everywhere in the world. It is that love for every inhabitant of Mother Earth irrespective of race, colour, creed, religious beliefs that brings us to this hall tonight. We love every creature and we love our environment.
We hate oppression and exploitation of men by men. We believe in equality and social justice. We yearn for a society informed the principle of a better life for all. We are inspired by the principle that says “each according to his/her abilities to each according to her/his needs”.
We dream of a world where classes will cease to exist and where our environment and all animals, the plantations, the insects shall enjoy the protection of humans so that they all preserved for generations to come. We are engaged in a titanic struggle against those whose greed destroys our world and lead to the degradation of environment.
We know who will suffer more should Cape Town reach day zero. Already half a million jobs are threatened by the prolonged drought in the Western Cape. We are the worst victims of floods in the eastern parts of our beautiful country.
We are the generation that fought against apartheid. We carry deep physical and emotional scars. We are fighting for social justice today. We are appalled by the current levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality in our country and everywhere else in the world. We are internationalists who recognize that there is but one common struggle against imperialism, colonialism, oppression and exploitation. We ourselves enjoyed immense solidarity from the workers and others who hate racial segregation.
Because we ourselves survived imperialism, colonialism, fascism and apartheid, we have learnt to always identity ourselves with others fighting imperialism, colonialism, apartheid and oppression anywhere. We believe that the existence of oppression anywhere in the world is a threat to peace and stability everywhere in the world. We want peace in our world. Chris Hani told us that those who want peace must fight for justice.
It is in this context that the South African workers have always held the people of Palestine in special regard because of the similarities between the inhumane way we suffered under apartheid and the brutal treatment meted out by the Israeli apartheid state to Palestinian freedom fighters.
Their decades-long struggle for human rights and freedom and for a free, independent and democratic sovereign state, is a struggle which SAFTU fully supports and therefore backs the 14th Annual International Israel Apartheid Week.
It is right to link the struggle to the question to decolonisation. We should remember that colonisation laid the foundations of today’s racist apartheid Israeli state, when Britain’s Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour in November 1917 wrote what would become known as the Balfour Declaration, a cynical attempt to annex what was then part of the Ottoman Empire, which was fighting on the German side in the first world war, and to create “a national home for the Jewish people”.
There was no consultation with any of the Arab population of the area and ever since the Palestinians have rightly condemned the Declaration, for giving away land Britain did not own.
This declaration gave Israeli settlers to steal the land and subjugate the people of Palestine in the most brutal fashion. In both Gaza and the occupied territories on the West Bank, people have suffered continuous murderous bombings, arbitrary arrests, beatings and jailings of men, women, children and whole families.
Thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children are held in Israeli prisons. few of them have had a legitimate trial; physical abuse and torture are frequent. Palestinian borders (even internal ones) are controlled by Israeli forces. Periodically men, women, and children are strip searched; people are beaten; women in labour are prevented from reaching hospitals (at times resulting in death); food and medicine are often blocked from entering Gaza, producing an escalating humanitarian crisis. Israeli forces invade almost daily, injuring, kidnapping, and sometimes killing inhabitants.
Just last week secret agents of the Israeli border police broke into the campus of Birzeit University in occupied Cisjordania disguised as journalists. They beat and arrested Omar Kiswani, head of the student council. Two students were injured by Israeli shots during the incursion and were treated in hospital.
The armed men arrived in a bus with Palestinian license plates, dressed in civilian clothes and carrying press equipment. They identified Omar and called his name as if they wanted to interview him, as journalists. They beat him, pulled out their weapons and a big group of soldiers broke into the university through the main entrance. Then they shot repeatedly at a group of students who were resisting the invasion by throwing rocks.
It is 14 years since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the construction of Israel’s wall and its associated regime in the occupied Palestinian West Bank – of settlements, land confiscation, separate roads, permit systems and movement restrictions – is illegal under international law.
Yet the international governments have allowed Israel to continue construction on occupied territory and its system of occupation, apartheid and colonialism against the Palestinian people. President Trump has come out as a big supporter of Zionist action by recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Workers and civil society are the only forces that can stop the ongoing slaughter of the Palestinian people, to whom we must send a message that they are not alone. Trade unions around the world should take urgent measures, in particular to intensify boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel, until it complies with international law, plus to:
1. Stop handling goods imported from or exported to Israel,
2. Divest trade union pension — and other — funds from Israel bonds and from corporations and banks that are complicit in Israel’s occupation and human rights violations,
3. Dissociate from Israeli trade unions which are complicit in the occupation
4. Support the call for a military embargo on Israel
5. Boycott Israeli products
Today more than ever, solidarity with Palestinians workers and their families in Gaza and the occupied West Bank is an essential component of progressive, principled trade union politics. Israel’s occupation must be isolated by the pressure of workers and civil society.
Solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine!
Workers of the world unite!