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. 

In the News

$170m Argentina loss for Israeli water firm Mekorot as BDS spreads southward

Mekorot Israel National Water Co intern text

- La Plata contract loss follows similar boycott by Dutch firm Vitens
- European construction firms and pension funds abandon Israel
- Student and youth unions continue to throw weight behind BDS
- YWCA-YMCA in Norway adopt BDS

In the latest success for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against

Mekorot Israel National Water Co intern text

- La Plata contract loss follows similar boycott by Dutch firm Vitens
- European construction firms and pension funds abandon Israel
- Student and youth unions continue to throw weight behind BDS
- YWCA-YMCA in Norway adopt BDS

In the latest success for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, authorities in Buenos Aires have suspended a proposed $170m water treatment plant deal with Israeli state water firm Mekorot. The decision came after a campaign by local trade unions and human rights groups that connected Mekorot’s role in Israel’s theft of Palestinian water resources with evidence that the project did not meet Argentinian standards and necessities.

Campaigners argued that Mekorot was attempting to export the discriminatory water policies it has developed against the Palestinian people to their country.

This victory largely contraddicts Israeli claims, last expressed during Netanyahu’s speech at the AIPAC, that the global south, eager for Israeli technology, are uncontested growing markets.

Mekorot illegally appropriates Palestinian water, diverting it to illegal Israeli settlements and towns inside Israel, and imposes severe obstacles to Palestinians accessing their own water. Amnesty International has accused Israel of depriving Palestinians of their access to water “as a means of expulsion”. A French parliamentary report accused Israel of imposing a system of “water apartheid” in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The Buenos Aires provincial government approved a drinking water plant project deal with a consortium led by Mekorot following a visit to Israel by state governor Daniel Scioli in 2011, but protests and lobbying have persuaded local authorities to suspend the project.

The large Dutch water utility Vitens suspended a cooperation agreement with Mekorot on the grounds that the relationship violated its “commitment to international law” in a high profile announcement in December.

“After investigating, we concluded that Mekorot came to Argentina with the intention to repeat what they are doing in Palestine. Water is a right for all and no company should be able to provide water in a discriminatory way,” said Adolfo, an engineer and a representative of the CTA/ ATE Hidráulica trade union in Buenos Aires that campaigned against the Mekorot plant.

“We fought in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice, liberation and return and we won a battle not only against Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people but as well for the right to water here in Argentina,” said Tilda Rabi, president of the Federation of Palestinian-Argentinian Organisations.

Campaigners understand that the decision was made in December 2013 but were only able to verify the news on March 7.

Friends of the Earth Palestine and a range of BDS partners are calling for a week of action against Mekorot during the last week of March.

Campaigners are viewing the Buenos Aires decision as the latest sign that the international BDS movement is increasingly isolating Israel and having serious economic impacts on its regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid.

On Thursday, students at the National University of Galway in Ireland voted to endorse BDS in a campus wide ballot, following on from a similar referendum success for BDS activists at the University of Windsor in Canada. National and local student unions across Europe and North America have now voted to support BDS-related measures.

Israeli media reports attributed the recent withdrawal of two leading European construction firms from the bid to build seaports in Israel to boycott fears, and a third firm only agreed to go ahead with similar plans after being allowed to submit a bid under a different name.

It emerged last month that Luxembourg’s state pension fund has excluded nine Israeli banks and firms over their role in illegal Israeli settlements, following on from similar decisions in recent months public pension funds in Norway and the Netherlands and Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank.

A recent solidarity conference organized by South African members of parliament and civil society groups issued the Cape Town Declaration endorsing BDS and accusing Israel of the crime of apartheid.

The Norwegian branch of the YMCA-YWCA movement recently announced its support for an economic boycott of Israel.

“Israel’s attempts to smear the BDS movement are failing; Israel is increasingly being isolated as people of conscience around the world take action to support Palestinian rights and as investors realise that there are serious economic and reputational risks associated with doing business with Israel,” said Zaid Shuaibi, a spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the largest Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the global BDS movement.

“Boycott is becoming an increasingly powerful and empowering way for ordinary people to support Palestinians in their struggle to end the occupation and Israel’s apartheid policies and for the right of Palestinian refugees to  return to their homes,” he added.


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