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

Luxembourg pension fund dumps 9 Israeli firms over settlements

Luxembourg’s state pension fund FDC has excluded nine major Israeli banks and firms and one US company because of their involvement in Israeli settlements and human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The move follows similar steps taken by other major financial institutions including the Dutch pensions giant PGGM and Norway’s state pension fund.

FDC

Luxembourg’s state pension fund FDC has excluded nine major Israeli banks and firms and one US company because of their involvement in Israeli settlements and human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The move follows similar steps taken by other major financial institutions including the Dutch pensions giant PGGM and Norway’s state pension fund.

FDC is required to abide by a socially responsible investment strategy and has published a list of 61 “excluded” firms that do not comply with its standards.

These include all five of Israel’s major banks – Bank LeumiBank Hapoalim, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank – on the grounds of “association to supporting construction of illegal settlements in occupied territories.”

Other firms involved in settlement construction on the exclusion list are AFI (Africa Israel Investments), Jerusalem Economy, Ltd., and Real Estate Management & Development.

The arms manufacturer Elbit Systems is excluded for its role in “providing security systems for illegal separation barrier on occupied territories.”

Luxembourg, a member of the European Union bordered by Belgium, France and Germany, has a population of half a million people. As of 2012, the FDC pension fund held assets of almost 13 billion euros ($18 billion).

US firm barred for Palestine role

The US firm Motorola Solutions is specifically barred from inclusion in the pension fund because of its “association to assisting in human rights violations in occupied [Palestinian] territories.”

According to Who Profits, Motorola Solutions has provided, through its Israeli subsidiary, equipment to Israeli settlements and occupation forces.

Dozens of other US and international firms like arms-makers Boeing and Lockheed Martin are on the list for various abuses around the world.

Turkey’s AKBank is listed for its role in hydroelectric dam projects “breaching World Bank environmental and social standards.”

Internet firm Yahoo! Inc. is excluded for “association to violation of the freedom of expression” in China.

US firm L-3 Communications is barred specifically for its role in “human rights abuses” in Iraq and Croatia, and for its role in marketing cluster munitions in the United States.

According to Who Profits, the firm is also involved in making equipment Israel uses to enforce the siege and closure of Gaza, however this is not specifically cited in the Luxembourg pension fund’s document.

Motorola appears, therefore, to be the only non-Israeli firm excluded specifically for a role in Israeli abuses.

The news of FDC’s barring of Israeli firms came as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, visiting occupied Jerusalem, announced her country’s opposition to “boycotts” designed to hold Israel accountable for its illegal colonization.


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