During apartheid, academics and students all over the world took a strong stand against injustice in South Africa. The same needs to happen following Israel's latest assault on Gaza, says Professor Robert van Niekerk, Director of the Rhodes University based Institute of Social and Economic Research.
He was speaking at a discussion organised by the Rhodes Palestinian Solidarity Forum on Thursday 24 July, on the eve of more than 20 nationwide Palestine protests against Israeli attacks on Gaza and calling for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador from South Africa.
During apartheid, Van Niekerk said, South Africans' struggle was taken all over the world, as people of all nationalities rallied to support them.
“We need to do the same in response to the attacks facing Palestinians and condemn what is happening in Gaza,” Van Niekerk said.
Palestinian scholar and Post Doctoral Fellow at Rhodes University Politics Department, Dr Irene Calis, said the attacks on Gaza by the Israeli state violated the most basic human rights of women, men and children. Palestinians continued to live in fear of destruction of their homes, injury and death, she said.
“This is against human rights and we need to do something about this,” Calis said.
While Van Niekerk emphasised that the intention of the discussion was to express solidarity with Palestinians, a speaker from the floor, Sindile Dyantjies, said South Africans needed to act as soon as possible.
“We cannot wait until all Palestinians are dead to see that people are dying,” he said.
Petitions, letters, and popular education would make a difference, he said. Participants were encouraged to sign a petition which will be sent to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation on Monday.
More than 20 major protest actions, rallies and events are planned across South Africa, in all nine provinces including major cities and towns.
The civil society led protest actions include a call for the South African government to immediately expel the Israeli Ambassador from South Africa, recall South Africa's Ambassador from Tel Aviv and impose broad-based boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
The Rhodes University Palestinians Solidarity Forum has also written an open letter about Israel attacks on Gaza.
By Thembani Onceya
Source: Grocott’s MailSource: Grocott’s Mail
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