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. 

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G4S requested UK intervene after Israeli minister’s criticism

The multinational security and incarceration firm G4S wrote to the UK government after an Israeli minister threatened it for yielding to pressure from activists with the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and deciding to sell its business in Israel and the Palestinian territories last year. This was revealed in emails obtained by the Financial Times under a freedom of information request.

G4S

G4S asked the British government to intervene after an Israeli minister accused the security company of bowing to pro-Palestinian activists in its decision to sell its business in Israel and the Palestinian territories last year.

The request, details of which were released by the Foreign Office under the Freedom of Information Act, highlights the delicate position of multinationals doing business in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The settlements are considered illegal by the international community and were condemned in a UN Security Council resolution that Britain supported last month.

G4S sold its Israeli business, which included the installation of security equipment in prisons in Israel and Ofer Prison in the occupied West Bank where Palestinian prisoners are held, last month to FIMI Opportunity Funds, an Israeli private equity group, for an estimated 425m shekels (£89m).

The decision followed years of protests and the disruption of its annual general meetings by campaign groups including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Group, a Palestinian-led movement that claimed the sale as a victory.

When it announced plans to sell the business last May, G4S said it was for commercial reasons. But Gilad Erdan, Israel’s minister of public security, strategic affairs and information, told the Jerusalem Post newspaper at the time that the company had bowed to activists’ pressure in its decision to pull out of the business.

“While almost all companies ignore the intimidation, a tiny minority give in,” Mr Erdan said. “For example, BDS was a factor in the decision of security company G4S to sell their operations in Israel. Giving in to BDS was a mistake, both morally and financially. Companies that take such politically-motivated decisions must pay a price, and they will.”

In an email shortly after Mr Erdan’s remarks, G4S requested the Foreign Office “reach out to Mr Erdan to discuss this matter”.

“Essentially, our message is aligned to the British government — we do not support boycotts. We are also confirming that our decision is purely commercial,” G4S said.

It added this week that the emails were part of “normal discussions” with the Foreign Office because it did not want the government to be “blindsided and to make sure the government knew we were on the same page”.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the government had not approached the Israeli government on behalf of G4S. “G4S routinely keeps the Foreign Office informed of its business operations in Israel,” she said.

Part of Mr Erdan’s brief is to counter the BDS movement, which is modelled on the boycott movement that targeted apartheid in South Africa. Benjamin Netanyahu’s government describes the campaign as anti-Semitic and a strategic threat to Israel.

Steps the government has taken to fight the movement include supporting anti-boycott laws in US states and European countries that could see companies face punitive action if they are deemed to be supporting a boycott.

The details of G4S communication with the Foreign Office comes amid signs of a shift in British policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict towards a more overtly pro-Israeli views, with one eye on the new Donald Trump administration.

Britain, along with Australia, this month dissented from a resolution upholding the two-state solution at an international conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Paris, citing reservations about the fact that Israel opposed the meeting, and that it was taking place just days before Mr Trump’s swearing in as US president.

Diplomats in Israel said this, combined with a move by Britain the following day to block the EU foreign affairs council from adopting the conference’s resolution, represented a shift in UK policy. Britain insists nothing has changed.


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