The leadership of Al Jama-ah in Gauteng notes the current developments in in the Middle East and the Gaza strip and note that the some political parties in South Africa consider this to be “terror in Israel.”
Such a reading of the events in Israel shows a deliberate reluctance to stand with the oppressed people of Palestine. For decades the people of Palestine had had to endure of oppression and bullying from the Israeli government in the conflict over land and natural resources.
Some South African political parties have used this onslaught against the people of Palestine to gain favour from Israel’s influential business people and elites.
We cannot afford to take a neutral position when it comes to the plight of Palestine. We must stand with the oppressed people of Palestine who have suffered the loss of their land for the past 75 years, while the world looked the other way.
Progressive forces have condemned Israel at the United Nations since its formation, but nothing has happened.
What is happening to the Israelis right now as they fear for their lives and those of their families is the same reality that the Palestinian people. We cannot therefore say that the pain of an Israeli is more important that the pain of a Palestinian person, who is living under historic oppression – especially those in Gaza.
The people of Gaza have lived in fear; being defenseless and facing a brutal enemy who has no problem killing civilians, even wiping out entire families.
The United Nations, along with numerous other respected organisations like Amnesty International, openly condemn Israel and label it as a practitioner of apartheid policies.
The Patriotic Alliance (PA) fully aligns with this condemnation, as we refuse to turn a blind eye to Israel’s crimes against humanity.
It is unacceptable for us to accept funds from an apartheid regime or engage in free trips that are funded by such a regime.
Israel has been proven guilty of many human rights abuses for the last 75 years making it a major terror group in the Middle East.
Its consistent disregard for the countless organisations and United Nations’ resolutions, condemning its racist policies and land theft, is deeply concerning.
We stand behind UN Resolution 37/432, which reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle for independence, territorial integrity, national unity, and liberation from colonial domination, apartheid, and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle.
The Jewish Report of September 14, 2023, reported that Cllr Kenny Kunene, Deputy President of the Patriotic Alliance (PA) and a member of the mayoral committee (MMC) of the City of Johannesburg for Roads and Transport, strongly opposed a proposal for the renaming of Sandton Drive to Leila Khaled Drive. This was astonishing to some of us who understand the struggles of the people of Palestine.
The President of the PA, Gayton McKenzie, also spoke against the renaming stating that his party would never support it as there are more deserving local heroes.
The matter was discussed among coalition parties but the Patriotic Alliance firmly refused to assist with the name change and support this worthy cause.
Cllr Kunene and McKenzie expressed their opposition during a talk at the Great Park Synagogue in Johannesburg where they shared insights from their recent trip to Israel.
The renaming of Sandton Drive to Leila Khaled Drive would be South Africa’s show of solidarity to the people of Palestine, who have been victims of Zionist Israeli Apartheid for the past 75 years.
The argument that there are more deserving local heroes contradicts the fact that a number of South Africans have been honoured in many countries across the world as a way of showing solidarity with South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.
The late icon President Nelson Mandela’s statues grace many countries and many major roads all over the world bare his name, including in Jamaica, which has a history of slavery and has its own national heroes.
President Jacob Zuma, Oliver Tambo and Chris Hani have also been honoured in different countries around the world.
President Mandela famously said: “As long as Palestine is not free South Africa is not free.”
We observe that there is an identity crisis among members of some political parties in South Africa, who have visited Israel but were oblivious to the Zionist apartheid regime’s treatment of Palestinians.
Leila Khaled is a Palestinian activist, known for her involvement in the Palestinian resistance movement.
For us she is one of the symbols of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination.
She gained international attention in the late 1960s for her participation in two high-profile airplane hijackings.
Khaled was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Her actions were part of a broader strategy employed by the PFLP to draw attention to the Palestinian cause and secure the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Khaled’s actions have generated both admiration and controversy making her a prominent figure in the history of Palestinian resistance.
Perhaps South African politics have dipped to the level of stomach politics, where we no longer think of what future generations will say about the decisions that we made. South Africa has the responsibility of reciprocating the love and support that the international community gave us in our time of need.
While numbers, money and power seem important in politics our moral compasses need to also guide us in the decisions that we make perhaps striving for honesty in politics and the cause of the people of Palestine. Written by Al Jama-ah Gauteng Provincial leader, Thapelo Amad.
Written by: Lindiwe Mabena