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The world snoozed on the Palestinians’ plight, says Reverend Frank Chikane

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The world snoozed on the plight of Palestinians who have been brutalised, killed and occupied from as far back as 1948, says Reverend Frank Chikane.

He spoke to the media on arrival at the OR Tambo International Airport from the Christmas Pilgrimage in Bethlehem.

Chikane said the Palestinians, currently living under siege amid an ongoing war with Israel, lamented a mischaracterisation of the war and the bias towards Israel.

He said he’d made similar remarks before the World Council of Churches (WCC) three years ago as the moderator of the church’s commission on international affairs.

“I kept saying people were dying there. Why don’t we act? Will you wait until somebody crosses over to Israel, and then it becomes news? And this is what the Palestinians are saying, which is that they are not treated as human beings, and it’s only when the Israelis are affected that the world makes headlines,” he said.

Chikane, who made his pro-Palestine stance clear, said it was unjust that the world criticised Hamas for “retaliating for decades of oppression by the apartheid Israel state”.

Turning to the US, which has been widely criticised for its close ties with Israel, Chikane said it made a “strategic mistake” by popularising Hamas as the instigators of the war.

READ | SA Christian leaders to spend Christmas in Bethlehem in solidarity with Palestinians

“People who didn’t support Hamas now do because they are saying [Israel] is killing our people in Gaza. It is a strategic mistake that the United States and Israel are making,” he said.

Chikane, Archbishop Thami Ngcana, Dean Michael Weeder, and Ds Riaan de Villiers were among the South Africans who gathered in Bethlehem with international leaders.

He said the delegation undertook the trip as a show of support for the Palestinians and to send a strong message to America and Israel.

“We went there to let them know that we care, to give them hope. We also wanted to impact the Israelis, to [get them to] understand that they can’t keep doing this. We wanted to impact the Americans and the church structures, which are paralysed because Europe controls what happens,” Chikane said.