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 exports take dramatic hit amid growing boycott campaign

  • Military exports drop from $7.5bn to $5.5bn
  • Industry leaders cite decline in willingness to purchase military products from Israel
  • New briefing highlights how military cooperation and trade with Israel assists Israel’s brutal repression of Palestinian protests

Israeli military exports this year could decline to just 53% of their level in 2012 and “less desire for Israeli-made products” is a key factor, according to a letter from Israel’s four largest military companies.

Industry leader

  • Military exports drop from $7.5bn to $5.5bn
  • Industry leaders cite decline in willingness to purchase military products from Israel
  • New briefing highlights how military cooperation and trade with Israel assists Israel’s brutal repression of Palestinian protests

Israeli military exports this year could decline to just 53% of their level in 2012 and “less desire for Israeli-made products” is a key factor, according to a letter from Israel’s four largest military companies.

Industry leaders are warning that military exports have steadily fallen since they reached $7.5bn in 2012. Sales in 2014 decline to $5.5bn and could drop to as low as $4bn this year, according to media reports about the letter.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has been running highly visible campaigns against military trade with Israel that have seen 12 banks and pension funds exclude Israeli arms company Elbit Systems from their investment portfolio. Israeli owned arms factories have been blockaded, and a growing number of political parties and trade unions have called for an end to military ties with Israel.

The governments of Norway and Turkey have both announced military embargo policies against Israel in recent years.

Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the largest Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the BDS movement, said:

“Israeli military companies market their products on the basis of their successful use in Israel’s massacres of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, yet it now seems that growing public awareness of and opposition to Israel’s war crimes are starting to hit Israel’s military exports.”

“Governments must meet their legal obligation not to provide aid or assistance and, on the contrary, to act to put an end to Israel’s violations of international law by implementing a military embargo on Israel as was done against apartheid South Africa.”

"Israel is currently operating a shoot to kill policy and brutally repressing Palestinian protests against its regime of occupation and apartheid. Israel's ability to oppress Palestinians depends on the willingness of governments and companies around the world to cooperate with Israel’s military, weapons industry and military research institutions."

During Israel’s 2014 Gaza massacre, the Spanish government announced a temporary freeze on arms exports to Israel, the USA temporarily withheld arms shipments, and the UK government came close to taking similar steps as calls for a military embargo on Israel took centre stage in the debate over Israel’s crimes.

Signatories to a 60,000 strong petition urging a military embargo included Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and five other Nobel laureates, Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters and US musician Boots Riley. Author Naomi Klein has described a military embargo on Israel as a “much deserved...crucial step towards ending Israel’s impunity”.

In April, UK high street bank Barclays appeared to divest from Israeli arms company Elbit Systems following a high profile campaign that saw direct action protests at its branches across more than 15 cities. Campaigns targeting European Union funding for Israeli military companies, Israeli military and security companies such as Elbit Systems and ISDS, as well as international corporations, such as G4S and HP, which provide equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints and prisons that make up Israel’s “infrastructure of oppression”, are gaining ground.

The BNC has today published a briefing that lists some indicators of the growing impact of the arms trade campaigning against Israel, making the case for such a military embargo. It is based on the crucial role that international military trade and cooperation with Israel play in Israel’s brutal repression of Palestinian protests and in maintaining Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.

Josh Ruebner, Policy Director for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, called on the US government to take action to end its support for Israel’s military aggression:

"Unfortunately, instead of heeding growing international calls for a military embargo against Israel, the United States is moving in the opposite direction. It is currently engaged in negotiations with Israel to provide it up to $45 billion in additional taxpayer-funded weapons over the next decade. Additional US military aid to Israel will deepen the complicity of the United States in abetting Israel's human rights abuses of Palestinians in violation of the United States' own laws such as the Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act."


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