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

UK student union to support campus boycott initiatives

The National Union of Student’s (NUS) National Executive Council has unanimously adopted a proposal mandating the body to work with local Student Unions to lobby universities to cancel contracts with Eden Springs.

Recommendation 404 (p.68 of this PDF) describes how Israeli company Eden Springs has a bottling plant in the Occupied Golan Heights, and notes the illegality of settlements under international law.

404 finishes with the following paragraph (my emphasis):

The National Union of Student’s (NUS) National Executive Council has unanimously adopted a proposal mandating the body to work with local Student Unions to lobby universities to cancel contracts with Eden Springs.

Recommendation 404 (p.68 of this PDF) describes how Israeli company Eden Springs has a bottling plant in the Occupied Golan Heights, and notes the illegality of settlements under international law.

404 finishes with the following paragraph (my emphasis):

Conference Resolves:

  1. To mandate the VP Society and Citizenship to write to the Chief Executive of Eden Springs outlining NUS’ objections to their bottling plant in the Golan Heights and asking them to remove it.
  2. For NUS to constructively engage with Eden Springs.
  3. To release guidance for students campaigning on ethical purchasing, including information about Eden Springs and how best to engage with their universities, colleges or city councils to lobby them to cancel their contracts.
  4. To research which universities and colleges have contracts with Eden Springs and work with local SUs to lobby universities to remove Eden Springs.

This official endorsement by the NUS of a boycott campaign on campuses nationwide is a great success for all the students who have already been working hard on Eden Springs. Material on Veolia and Eden Springs has been on the NUS website since January, and the NEC have already condemned a collaboration between King’s College London (KCL) and Ahava.

An amendment to Recommendation 404 proposing a full endorsement of the BDS call was - unsurprisingly - not adopted (a fact that Israel advocates have sought to hide behind). However, the fate of another amendment, submitted by Leeds University Union, is encouraging. This sought to take the teeth out of the original proposal, deleting:

  1. To release guidance for students campaigning on ethical purchasing, including information about Eden Springs and how best to engage with their universities, colleges or city councils to lobby them to cancel their contracts.
  2. To research which universities and colleges have contracts with Eden Springs and work with local SUs to lobby universities to remove Eden Springs.

and adding:

  1. To release guidance for students campaigning on ethical purchasing, including information about Eden Springs and how best to engage with their universities, colleges or city councils to lobby them to constructively engage with Eden Springs.
  2. To research which universities and colleges have contracts with Eden Springs and work with local SUs to lobby universities to constructively engage with Eden Springs.

This attempt to derail the boycott motion through pushing only for “constructive engagement” failed. The parameters of debate are changing fast, leaving Israel’s lobbyists struggling to adjust to the growing momentum of pro-justice campaigners.

Original Link: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ben-white/uk-student-union-support-campus-divestment-initiatives


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