VOCFM

27 September 2013

The ANC, Communist Party and trade union Cosatu “need to be more outspoken” about Palestine’s struggle for freedom, said former MP Ronnie Kasrils at a public gathering in Cape Town this week. The former intelligence minister described himself as a “former minister with a Jewish background who also stood by the Palestinian cause”. He also attacked US president Barack Obama for supporting Israel, which occupies Palestinian lands.

“We need to remind the O-bombers (referring to Obama) of this world that Israel is a rogue state. South Africans who go to Israel will recognise immediately the apartheid practices of Israel,” said Kasrils. Kasrils was a guest speaker at the Why Israel? book launch on Tuesday night. “We see in the this book the cruelty of the Zionist cause and those who support it. As South Africans we need to fully understand this. It empowers us. We have taken some steps against Israel,” said Kasrils.

“We can play a much stronger role in our country to move towards a total break with Israel and move towards creating a much stronger boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Our government must play a much stronger role than it has thus far. Our country received so much solidarity, we need to be the number one champions of the Palestinian cause.”

Suraya Dadoo and Firoze Osman of the Media Review Network co-authored the book. Dadoo said the book’s title comes from the question that “Israeli’s supporters ask: Why do you pick on Israel? We took that questioned and answered it in this book. We want to change the perception that this is an issue between Jews and Muslims. This is a human rights issue,” said Dadoo. “Every apartheid law has its equivalent in Israel today. The names of the laws might have changed but it’s still apartheid. We aim to expose the lies of Israel’s propaganda.”

Osman said their book also tackled the Israeli lobby’s pressure on journalists and the media to publish “propaganda”. “There’s an Israeli mantra in the media that has demonised the struggle of Palestinians for freedom. We have challenged this. The problem is that whenever someone challenges Israel they are regarded as anti-Semitic or self-hating Jews,” said Osman.

New York-based Palestinian poet Remi Kanazi performed two of his spoken word pieces at the book launch. He said his grandparents had to leave Palestine in 1948, the same year that apartheid was signed into law in South Africa. “No matter how many times you try to beat a people down, they still come back. That’s the Palestinian people. We will return, this is a promise,” said Kanazi. Why Israel? is sold at Exclusive Books countrywide. The authors said an electronic version of the book was also available for sale online. (VOC)

Yazeed Kamaldien