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

H&M Whitewashing Israel's Colonization of Jerusalem, BDS National Committee calls for Boycotting H&M!

March 16, 2010

Occupied Palestine, March 16th – The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls for international protests leading to a boycott of Swedish fashion giant H&M, particularly in the Arab World, in response to its opening of its second store in Israel, this time in the "Malha Mall" in Jerusalem, at a time when Israel is intensifying its illegal colonization of the occupied eastern part of the city.

Occupied Palestine, March 16th – The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls for international protests leading to a boycott of Swedish fashion giant H&M, particularly in the Arab World, in response to its opening of its second store in Israel, this time in the "Malha Mall" in Jerusalem, at a time when Israel is intensifying its illegal colonization of the occupied eastern part of the city. Malha is one of the Palestinian villages that were ethnically cleansed during the 1948 Nakba and whose original Palestinian inhabitants are refugees denied their UN-sanctioned right to return to their lands. Israel, to this day, continues its policies of ethnic cleaning in Jerusalem by evicting Palestinians from their homes and replacing them with Jewish colonial settlers and by constructing tens of thousands of housing units for those settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory. All Israeli colonies are regarded as war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In addition to opening stores in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, H&M has announced its decision to open additional stores in Haifa, Petah Tikva, Netanya, and Rehovot [1]. While H&M is clearly not the only international chain that is operating in Israel, its decision to invest substantially in Israel after its criminal war of aggression on Gaza and in the midst of its intensified colonization of Jerusalem in contravention of international law can only be understood by Palestinians and supporters of just peace around the world as a form of support for Israel’s abhorrent violations of international law and human rights.

H&M claims to adhere to the UN Global Compact, a corporate social responsibility initiative that obliges it to ensure it is "not complicit in human rights abuses" [2]. The UN's Goldstone report has recently condemned Israel for committing not just grave human rights abuses but also war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during its Gaza massacre. By ignoring this and investing heavily in Israel's economy at this time, H&M is violating its own commitments to the UN's principles of ethical investment.

Solidarity activists in London picketed H&M's flagship London store on Saturday, 13 March, and gave shoppers information about the Palestinian call for BDS. Groups in H&M's native Sweden also picketed stores and called on the firm, which made profits of USD 2.2bn in 2009, to end its Israeli operations [3].

It is worth mentioning that Sweden and other Scandinavian countries have taken serious measures in the last few years to exclude companies implicated in Israel's occupation and illegal building of colonies and the Wall from their pension funds [4]. Most recently, Danske Bank, the largest in Denmark, decided to divest from Elbit Systems and other Israeli companies involved in systematic human rights violations.

The BNC calls on solidarity organizations and people of conscience around the world, particularly in Arab states, to escalate their civil protests against H&M, reaching a total boycott of the chain, until it has ended its complicity in Israel's system of occupation, colonization and apartheid against the Palestinian people. Conducting business as usual with Israel is not only unethical; it is detrimental to the pursuit of a just peace based on international law.

 

[1] http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1155805.html
[2] Ibid.
[3] http://palsolidarity.org/2010/03/11656
[4] http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11084.shtml

March 16, 2010
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