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

Israeli arms companies forced to pull out of major aerospace convention in France

Campaigners protest the presence of Israeli arms manufacturers at Aeromart Toulouse 2012.

Campaigners protest the presence of Israeli arms manufacturers at Aeromart Toulouse 2012. (BDS Sud-Ouest)

Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), two Israeli arms companies thatassist Israel with the construction of its apartheid wall and supply drones to the Israeli military, have pulled out of a major international aerospace industry convention in Toulouse, in southern France, following a campaign led by BDS Sud-Ouest.

The two military companies participated in the 2010 Aeromart Business Convention and had been listed as participant’s in this year’s convention, which started on 4 December. But in the wake of a 60-strong demonstration outside the convention center on its opening morning, event organizers announced that Elbit Systems and IAI had “at the last moment decided not to participate in the event.” The companies were worried about the damage to their reputation and further demonstrations taking place during the convention, according to information recieved by campaigners.

The campaign against the appearance of Israeli companies at the convention began in February, originally targetting local government bodies involved in the convention, and recieved radio and TV coverage.

In its report Precisely Wrong, Human Rights Watch detailed the use of drones provided by Elbit Systems and IAI in the killing of civilians during the 2008-09 Gaza massacre. Armaments provided by the two companies were surely used during Israel’s latest assault on Gaza. In its promotional materials, Elbit Systems boasts that its drones are “field tested,” by which it means that their deadly power has been demonstrated on Palestinian civilians.

Several European financial institutions including the Norwegian state pension fund, Danske Bank and ABP have divested from Elbit Systems. Slowly but surely, theboycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is showing that there is a price to pay for being part of Israel’s military machine.

52 public figures including Nobel prize winners, artists, writers and academics issued a call for a military embargo on Israel in the wake of the attack on Gaza last month (full text here). The Palestinian BDS National Committee launched a campaign for a military embargo on Israel on 9 July 2011.


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