The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) joins the global progressive movement, and launches Israel Apartheid Week starting today the 15th of March – 21st March 2021. During this crucial week, and beyond, we want to raise public awareness about Israel’s regime of systematic racial discrimination against the people of Palestine, which amounts to the crime of apartheid under international law.
Regrettably, the situation of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation remains dire due to the repressive, destructive, and colonial policies and practices that continue to be perpetrated by Israel. The attacks are in deliberate, systematic and a grave violation of international law including humanitarian law and human rights law, with total impunity, as the international community continues to fail to hold Israel accountable in accordance with the law.
We also fully support the unity demonstrated in supporting the long-overdue decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to probe war crime charges against Israel. We welcomed this decision, standing firm with the Palestinian people, who have welcomed the ruling as a historic move in the direction of accountability.
In the same breath, we want to condemn the orchestrated smear campaign that has been launched against distinguished anti-apartheid activist Reverand Frank Chikane by supporters of apartheid Israel.
During a zoom webinar on February 6th 2021, launching a documentary about the pro-Palestinian activism of Michel Sabbah, Rev Chikane slammed the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and human rights abuses against Palestinians and likened the Palestinian struggle for liberation to the South African struggle against apartheid. COSATU condemns the pro-Israeli attempts to distort Chikane’s use of the Biblical idiom and misrepresent his views. Their claims of him “demonising” and using a “blood libel” against Jews are rejected with contempt as disgusting lies. Rev Chikane is completely correct and has our full support.
We also urge the South African Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to respect the Judicial Conduct Committee’s decision, which compels him to retract and apologise for his comments made on the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.
The federation unequivocally advocates for a free Palestine and calls upon all progressive forces to act and fight against imperialist opportunists who continue to add fuel to Israeli-Palestine tensions.
COSATU and her affiliates, look forward to hosting and joining in a series of activities this week which more will be announced throughout.
1. A mass march has been organised to the US Consulate on Thursday, March 18th 2021, from 10:00 – 14:00 in Sandton, where we call for our members’ maximum participation in a show of solidarity.
2. We will also host a virtual solidarity engagement on the plight of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on Friday, March 19th 2021, at 16:00. The difficulty of Palestinian prisoners has not received the attention it deserves. At least 3000 Palestinian prisoners are being held under the administrative detention law. Some of them have been in prison for years without charge and with no access to legal aid.
3. On Sunday 21st March 2021, COSATU in collaboration with the BDS will partake in a virtual engagement on ‘The Role of the Workers Movement in the BDS Campaign against Israel Apartheid’. Comrade Ronnie Kasrils will deliver a presentation, to which COSATU 1st Deputy President Mike Shingange will respond.
We call on all workers, activists, internationalists, and justice-loving people in the world to join us and amplify the voice of the Palestinian struggle, as we fight for their freedom. We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words, but to commit to political action, grassroots action, local action, and international action that will give us what justice requires – and that is a free Palestine.
COSATU Head Office
Cell: 072 535 1577