South Africans demand government cut ties with Israel
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Calls for the South African government to cut ties with Israel were repeated when thousands of protesters gathered in front of Parliament yesterday.
The annual Quds Day protest, organsied locally by the local Islamic Unity Convention (IUC), attracted 10,000 people, according to police monitoring the event.
IUC chairman Achmad Cassiem handed a memorandum to the department of international relations and cooperation. It demanded that Israeli ambassador Arthur Lenk be expelled from South Africa, and the South African ambassador to Israel, Sisa Ngomane, be recalled.
The department’s parliamentary liason officer, Seraki Matsebe, signed and received the memorandum.
It read: “There can be no normal relations and cooperation with a racist entity. Racism is terrorism.”
Cassiem told the gathering: “Zionism is racism and therefore a crime against humanity. It is worse than apartheid.”
Protesters comprised a range of voices: refugees, school learners, Muslims, Christians and even a few Germans.
Suber Noor from Somalia, who has lived in Cape Town for 15 years, walked alongside his compatriots. He wanted the Israeli military to “realise they are killing humans, who are like them”.
“They are killing innocent children. But Israel won’t be killing our brothers and sisters forever. One day Palestine will be free,” said Noor.
He added: “Palestinians are our Muslim brothers and sisters. When someone kills a Muslim, we all feel the pain.”
Learners from Trafalgar High School, located on Roeland Street near Parliament, also participated in the protest.
Murphy Ngaga, 16, said they “wanted to show our school is against the killing of Palestinian children”.
“I watched the news at home and it was heartbreaking to see children killed. I’m marching to stop what’s going on,” said Ngaga.
His classmate Ru-eeza Hendricks, 16, added: “What Israel is doing is wrong”.
“It’s really sad and it affects us all. We want all the violence, bombings and killings to stop.”
Zainulabideen van der Schyff, a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters party, said they had been to “every single (Gaza related) protest over the last two weeks” in the city.
“I’m here for justice. We are compelled to support the oppressed.. Our party’s policy towards Israel is that it does have the legitimacy to exist,” he said.
Protesters carried placards calling for boycotts against Pick n Pay and Coca-Cola, companies they allegedly support Israel financially. They chanted: “Death to America”. One T-shirt read: “It’s not about religion. It’s about humanity.”
The protest started in Kaizergracht Street in District Six, went down Darling, on to Adderley, Bureau, Plein and finally stopped in front of Parliament buildings.
Quds Day is a global event started 35 years ago. It is held on the last Friday of Ramadaan, the Islamic month of fasting, and gathers protesters in support of Palestinians.