Remembering the Nakba and the ongoing struggle for Palestinian liberation

More than 1,000 people attended the Nakba rally in Cape Town over the weekend. Photos by Charlton Barry Madolo

The PSC used the Nakba rally to get political parties to sign a pledge to pass legislation in support of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

“We are meeting today to commemorate the Nakba, a catastrophe that was visited upon the people of Palestine in 1948. I thought it is important to say that Nakba is continuing today. It was meant to ethnically cleanse Palestine for settler Jewish people from Europe. It was meant to dispossess and displace Palestinians and dispossess them of their land. They wanted to destroy every trace of memory of the Palestinians; 15,000 people were killed at that time and now its 35,000 people killed in the last seven months. Nakba is continuing today as it was before.”

These were the opening remarks by the struggle veteran, writer and cleric, Rev Frank Chikane, during the commemoration of the Nakba, organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC-SA), held at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town on Saturday.

“What struck me is that those militia and Israeli forces which fought the people and drove them out of their land, also used biological chemicals to poison water in the villages to kill the Palestinians. People have forgotten about this. What happened to Palestinians in 1948 was the worst form of terrorism ever experienced in this world,” said Chikane, who served under the Mbeki regime as the director general in the presidency.

Chikane drew parallels between the use of biological warfare by the Israeli forces and that of the apartheid defence force (SANDF) which manufactured drugs and distributed them in the Cape Flats in South Africa. Apartheid assassins had also tried to kill him by lacing his clothing with poison.

Nakba rallies and protests were held in different parts of the world to commemorate the displacement of Palestinians to make way for the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Co-founder of PSC-SA, Mercia Andrews called on the approximately one thousand people attending the rally to not only talk about the Nakba but also to celebrate the resistance and the ongoing fight by the Palestinian people. “This is something that all of must hold high. Because without the resistance, without the fight back, we would have the people defeated and they have shown that they are not going to be defeated,” she said.

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Andrews urged the participants to call out those who supported Israel during the Nakba and continue to support its ongoing genocide in Palestine. The British, the US and the European Union were and are still supporting the ongoing Nakba, according to Andrews. “The Biden government has spent billions of rands in support of Israel,” she said.

Writer and poet, Thandi Gamedze warned against Christian Zionism which wants people to see the genocide as a religious conflict. “Religion has been used and appropriated to uphold what is going on in Palestine right now and to uphold the injustice and oppression that is taking place.”

Megan Choritz from South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP) relayed how she gets grotesque, threatening and bullying messages from Zionists on social media for her views on Zionism and anti-semitism. “Some of you may recognise me from a couple of videos that have gone viral on social media talking about Zionism and anti-semitism and because I am on social media, I get a lot of feedback about my point of view: mostly support, and then come the grotesque, threatening and bullying from Zionists who may or may not be real people and the theme of what they say is always the same. They hope I get raped, they want to pay for me to go to Gaza so that Hamas can kill me and it’s always the same theme. There is no irony, self-awareness, absolutely no concept that they are the violent ones,” she said.

Political parties sign pledge to support BDS

At the Nakba rally, seven political parties signed a pledge committing to pass legislation in support of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Before the signing of the pledge, PSC executive member, Martin Jansen said that BDS against Israel can no longer be delayed as Israel has defied the International Court of Justice ruling to stop its genocidal actions against Palestinians. The PSC has drafted a bill for the political parties to push once they get into parliament. The bill includes BDS in the spheres of economics, politics, culture and sports. “And just for everyone’s information, South Africa exports diamonds, coal and grapes to Israel,” he said.

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In political terms, the bill calls for the cutting of all ties by government and state institutions with Israel. It also calls for ending of dual citizenship with the state of Israel. In terms of sports, the bill seeks to sever all official sporting ties and competition with Israel.

The PSC has been calling on FIFA to kick Israel out of world football.

Situation on the ground

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ( UNOCHA), there are 1,7 million people who are displaced in Palestine as of 6 May. Palestine has a population of 2.3-millon. Over a million people are projected to be facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity.

On the health front, UNOCHA states that 80% of the primary healthcare centres are not functional. Because most people live in shelters, the report says that there is one square metre of average space per person at the shelters.

Aziz Younis, a Palestinian journalist based in South Africa called for South Africans to raise awareness about the genocide in Palestine, and about the BDS campaign against Israel. “Urge the South African government to take even a stronger stand in international forums against occupation. South Africa has a history of overcoming apartheid through international solidarity and your government can be a strong voice for Palestinian rights on the global stage,” said Younis.

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