Palestinian BNC Mourns Loss of Anti-Apartheid Icon Ahmed Kathrada

March 28, 2017, Occupied Palestine —The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) has heard with great sadness the news of Comrade Ahmed Kathrada’s passing. Mr. Kathrada, born to an Indian Muslim family, was the most prominent Asian South African in the movement to end apartheid, the system of racial discrimination, segregation and white dominance that existed in South Africa until it was defeated in 1994.

Comrade Kathrada was also an active and consistent supporter of the Palestinian struggle for freedom. He visited Palestine, and saw the apartheid system we endure for himself. He said when in Palestine: "In our short stay here we have seen and heard enough to conclude that Apartheid has been reborn here. In its reborn form it is however worse than its predecessor. Even during the worst days of Apartheid we did not have walls to divide and control people, we also did not have separate roads for separate races, and we did not have the system of checkpoints that exist here."

The Foundation which bears his name engages in activities in support of Israeli Apartheid Week, which aims to raise awareness of Israel's apartheid policies towards Palestinians. It also supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights, believing that this is the way to bring an end to Israel's apartheid policies and violations of international law. 

Kathrada’s own long imprisonment — 26 years and 3 months — alongside the anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela and his lifelong struggle against apartheid and injustice are an example to all Palestinians that integrity and perseverance will lead to justice and freedom.

The BDS movement is working to increase international civil society and government support for the Palestinian struggle for justice. We were honored to count Comrade Kathrada as a supporter of our struggle and remain inspired by his life.

We send out our condolences to his family, friends, comrades and all South Africans during these difficult days.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. 

PACBI Statement

Radiohead: Do not lend your voice and art to oppression

Palestinians urge Radiohead to cancel their 19 July concert in Israel and respect the cultural boycott picket line.

Please sign petition:

Dear Radiohead,

cc: Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Colin Greenwood, and Phil Selway

Re: Your July concert in Tel Aviv

Do not lend your voice and art to oppression


We, as Palestinian artists and cultural institutions, appeal to you to cancel your upcoming concert in Tel Aviv in July, as such a performance, irrespective of intentions, will help Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid cover up its massive violations of Palestinian human rights.  

Borrowing a page from the propaganda book of apartheid South Africa, Israel makes no secret of its manipulation of culture  to promote an image of “democracy” and “cultural diversity.”

In 2009, Arye Mekel, from Israel’s Foreign Ministry noted that “We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theatre companies, exhibits. This way, you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.”

Similarly, Nissim Ben-Sheetrit has vocally expressed that culture for Israel is a propaganda tool stating: “We are seeing culture as a hasbara [propaganda] tool of the first rank, and I do not differentiate between hasbara and culture.”

Recognizing Israel’s not-so-hidden agenda behind inviting cultural and sports figures, American football player Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks and five other NFL players have recently cancelled their participation in an Israeli government-sponsored propaganda trip. Expressing his support for Palestinians, Bennett refuses to be “used,” as he put it. He cited the 1968 Olympian John Carlos, who said, “There is no partial commitment to justice. You are either in or you’re out.” Bennett wrote, “Well, I’m in.”

We urge you to be “in” too. Do not lend your good name and integrity to an intricate propaganda machine whose main aim is to “show Israel’s prettier face.”

Just as South Africans called for boycotts -- including cultural -- during the apartheid era, Palestinians have since 2004 urged renowned artists like yourself to not entertain yet another apartheid in our time.

Just a day before the harrowing murder of Palestinian teenager Muhammed Abu Khdeir, then Israeli Justice Minister Ayalet Shaked posted on Facebook a call for the killing of Palestinians saying that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” continuing to state “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”

The Palestinian Performing Arts Network released a call in 2015 urging artists and cultural institutions around the world to help end the occupation.They note that “Despite all the hardships, Palestinian arts and cultural institutions continue to work in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, using the arts to mobilize and educate.” Your performance in Tel Aviv will only help in the perpetuation of Israeli crimes against the Palestinian population generally and Palestinian artists specifically.

Many notable artists and writers have endorsed our cultural boycott call including Danny Glover, Myriam Margolyes, Roger Waters, Gillian Slovo, Mike Leigh, the late John Berger, Brian Eno, and Alice Walker.

More than 1,200 cultural figures in the UK, in fact, have signed a pledge “to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.” Many bands and artists have also cancelled performances in Tel Aviv, such as Lauryn Hill and Massive Attack.

 As it says in the video of your song All I Need, “some things cost more than you realize.” Your performance in Tel Aviv will cost us dearly as it will help to prolong Israel’s decades-old occupation, colonization, and entrenched system of apartheid that denies us our equal rights by law, not just policy.

Just after the UN Security Council reiterated the illegality of Israeli settlements under resolution 2334, on 23 December 2016, Israel  passed a law that would retroactively legalize the theft of private Palestinian land for settlements. Israel cannot maintain this level of criminal impunity and colonial arrogance without the facade of “democracy” that international performers help to polish.

We sincerely hope that you shall reconsider your performance and join the growing ranks of artists who stand on the right side of history, with the oppressed in their struggle to end oppression.


The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)


Stay updated!

Get breaking news, campaign updates and action alerts!