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

Victory for BDS campaign as UEFA decides against Jerusalem tournament bid

The Union of European Football Associations has rejected an Israeli bid to host games during the 2020 European Championships.

The Union of European Football Associations has rejected an Israeli bid to host games during the 2020 European Championships. The decision follows a campaign by Palestinian sports teams and campaign groups and activists across Europe. The Israeli Football Association bid to host games in Jerusalem as part of the UEFA 2020 tournament that will take place across 13 cities, but UEFA announced on Friday that Jerusalem was not one of the successful bidders. Israel was one of just 6 countries that failed in its bid to host games. 75 ​Palestinian football teams and NGOs​​ wrote to​ UEFA president Michel​ Platini arguing that holding the UEFA 2020 games in Jerusalem would be tantamount to “rewarding” Israel for its massacre of more than 2,100 Palestinians, including over 500 children, during its recent 52-day assault on Gaza. Campaigners across Europe pressured UEFA and national football associations not to accept the Israeli bid. Sit-ins were held by Palestine solidarity activists at the headquarters of French and Italian football associations. ​ ​ Abdulrahman Abunahel, the coordinator in Gaza with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee said: "Given that awarding Israel the right to host the games would have been a sign of support for Israel's massacre in Gaza and its war on Palestinian football, UEFA has made the only sensible decision. "We thank all those who joined us in opposing Israel's bid to host games in Jerusalem, a city from which Israel is ethnically cleansing Palestinians. Our online campaigning and the occupations of football association buildings in France and Italy undoubtedly played a role in persuading UEFA to to make the right choice." "Israel has launched a war on football in Palestine: footballers have been killed, stadiums bombed and players have been refused permission to travel to matches. UEFA must suspend the membership the Israeli Football Association if it continues to maintain its links with the Israeli state that practices occupation, colonisation and apartheid."​ Thousands of people participated in a Twitter storm action on Tuesday to tell UEFA that awarding Israel the right to host UEFA 2020 tournament games would amount to a message of approval for its massacre in Gaza. Among those killed in Israel’s recent massacre in Gaza were Ahmad Muhammad al-Qatar and Uday Caber, two 19-year-old football players at the start of their careers, and 49-year-old Ahed Zaqout, a footballing legend in Palestine known as “the voice of football” for his live commentaries. 32 sports facilities and around 500 athletes’ houses were also damaged. Palestinian groups also warned that hosting games in Jerusalem would legitimise Israel’s forced displacement of Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem, which is recognised as occupied Palestinian territory by the EU and UN. Israel recently announced plans to further expand illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, a step that the UN and other agencies have warned will lead to further expulsions and forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes. In a public letter protesting against UEFA’s decision to allow Israel to host the Under 21 tournament in 2013, more than 50 footballers including Didier Drogba and Frederik Kanoute called the Israeli-hosted tournament “a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values”. In 2010, UEFA president Michel Platini said: “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behavior”. Campaigners are now planning to intensify the pressure on Platini to live up to his promises and suspend the Israeli Football Association.


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