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. 

Campaign Area

Local governments

Overview

Local government bodies such as municipal and regional councils play an important role in our political system.

Dozens of local authorities across Ireland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, France, the UK, Italy, Belgium and Australia have passed resolutions that support BDS or that pledge not to deal with specific companies targeted by the BDS movement.

These decisions are powerful displays of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
BDS

About

Local governments have a key role to play

Local government bodies such as municipal and regional councils play a key role in our political systems. They often have relationships with companies and institutions that help Israel to oppress Palestinians. Campaigning for local governments to take action in support of Palestinian rights is a vital way to build meaningful solidarity that reflects community values. Several multinationals such as Veolia have ended their participation in Israel’s crimes after losing contracts and facing pressure from local government bodies. For more information on the specifics involved, check out Stop the Wall's resource Local Authorities In Support Of Palestinian Rights or click Find Out More.


Find out more

Many local government bodies have investment and procurement relationships with companies that help Israel to violate Palestinian rights or twinning relationships with Israeli local government bodies that participate in Israeli violations of human rights. Local governments have an ethical responsibility and a legal obligation to break ties with companies and institutions that are involved in recognising, aiding or assisting Israeli violations of international law.

National governments are failing to hold Israel accountable or take steps that can help Palestinians realise their right to self-determination. This means that local governments, who have historically been an important part of upholding human rights and extending solidarity, have a vital role to play.

In December 2014, the Olive Declaration was published as the concluding document of the International Conference of Governments and Civil Society Organizations in Support of Palestinian Rights. It called on local governments and councils to adopt ethically responsible measures and to not give support to companies or institutions that help Israel to violate Palestinian rights.

Local government actions should reflect the values of the community they serve, including on human rights and Palestine- related issues. Public opinion is increasingly in support of Palestinian rights and local governments should reflect this in their policies, especially with regards to how public money is spent and invested.

Apartheid Free Zones is a new initiative that aims to build community support for the Palestinian struggle and for BDS.

In Spain, community activists are inviting shops, restaurants, community centres, businesses, trade unions and other civil society organisations to declare themselves to be an Apartheid Free Zone.

An organisation that wants to be an Apartheid Free Zone commits to supporting BDS,  and boycotting Israeli products and institutions and to publicly declaring that it is an Apartheid Free Zone.

Local councils can support Apartheid Free Zone initiatives by passing a resolution and taking steps to end commercial relationships with companies and institutions that help Israel to violate international law. ​

In 2015, French corporation Veolia sold off its Israeli businesses including its role in the Jerusalem Light Rail, a tramway project built to help Israel connect up and expand its illegal settlements.

Veolia took this decision after local governments in countries across the world had taken the decision not to award it contracts because of its role in Israeli violations of international law. Veolia lost contracts worth at least $20bn.

Veolia’s withdrawal from Israel was a pivotal moment that showed how our movement is capable of holding corporations that aid and abet Israel’s human rights violations to account.

Similarly, G4S has moved to distance itself from its role in Israeli violations of human rights after a number of local government bodies boycotted it. Local councils are playing an absolutely vital role in promoting respect for human rights.

Impact

Local community organising is leading to local government bodies taking principled steps in support of Palestinian rights.


Milestones

Dozens of local governments have passed resolutions in support of BDS

Dozens of local councils across Ireland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, France, the UK, Italy, Belgium and Australia have passed resolutions that support BDS or that pledge not to deal with specific companies targeted by the BDS movement.


$20bn
Veolia pulled out of Israel after BDS campaigns cost it $20bn in lost contracts

Ending corporate complicity

In 2015, French corporation Veolia sold off its Israeli businesses including its role in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail project. This was a direct result of local governments across the world taking the decision not to award it contracts because of its role in Israeli violations of international law. Veolia lost contracts worth at least $20bn.


Take Action

Grassroots community organising has led to many local councils taking a powerful stand in support of Palestinian rights. Help us get the support of even more local government bodies.


Spread the word

Dozens of local governments have passed resolutions in support of BDS. Share this page to help spread the word and share this page on social media.

Work to pass a resolution through your nearby local government

Working alongside your local elected representatives to pass a resolution through your local government body can be a hugely rewarding and impactful long term project. Get in touch for support and information and for help with writing a motion.
Get in touch

Are you an elected representative in a local government? Get in touch!

We would love to discuss with you how we can work together to build support for BDS and actions in support of international law within your local government. Please contact us.
Get in touch

Research what links your local government has with Israel and complicit companies

The Who Profits website and the AFSC Investigate website both provide detailed information about companies involved in Israel’s regime of apartheid and settler -colonialism. In many countries, local governments are obliged under freedom of information laws to give information about which companies they invest in or buy services from. ​


Check out Stop the Wall's resource on local governments and Palestine solidarity

Check out Local Authorities In Support Of Palestinian Rights, a resource from Stop the Wall. 


Download

Educate your elected representatives about the Palestinian struggle and BDS

Write to your local elected officials to help them to understand the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and the need for local authorities to take action. You could even share this page with them!

Build support in your community

Before you bring a resolution to vote, it is important to meet with and build support among local community groups, trade unions and faith groups for your proposal. An open letter signed by these organisations and members of the public can help to show your local government that there is wide community support for your resolution.

Organise an educational event for elected officials of your local government

A town hall event or a workshop can be a great way to educate elected officials, local media and and the wider community about the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and the importance of BDS initiatives by local governments.

Monitoring and follow- up

Once your resolution is passed, it is important you monitor its implementation and make sure that your local government takes the steps the resolution commits it to.