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PACBI-A Letter from Palestinian Students to Wits Student Representative Council, South Africa


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PSCABI | 26 July 2012

A Letter from Palestinian Students to Wits Student Representative Council, South Africa

We are counting on your support for our struggle against Israel’s occupation, colonization, and apartheid
 
Occupied Palestine
26th July 2012
 
Dear colleagues,
 
We are deeply proud of South Africans who with international solidarity won huge battles against racism and apartheid. Having tasted the beginning of freedom we now urge you to join Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Ronnie Kassrils and many other anti-apartheid heroes by taking a courageous stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, whether under occupation, in exile, or under medieval siege, and all suffering from Israel’s special system of apartheid.  
 
Here in the Gaza Bantustan[1], over two thirds of the 1.6 million population are United Nations registered refugees, violently forced during the 1948 Nakba out of our homes and lands by the Zionist militias and later the Israeli army, in systematic campaigns of ethnic cleansing that are reminiscent of the “forced removals” of the indigenous population in South Africa in the past. We are kept in this prison and denied our legal right of return merely for being born Palestinian, the undesired 'ethnic group' for Israel's expansive plans for the region. We have endured a daily life of occupation, the construction of walls and colonies, Israeli F16 aircraft bombings, tank shellings, checkpoints, curfews, land theft, home demolitions, fatalities, injuries, and entrenched psychological scars for such a young population.
 
While Israel’s gradual ethnic cleansing and intensifying colonization suffocate our people in the occupied West Bank, its crimes in Gaza are reaching new lows. During one week in June this year 16 Gazans, some of whom were university students, were killed as the Israeli Occupation forces unleashed 40 airstrikes over densely populated neighbourhoods, sports arenas, workshops, homes and residential buildings. 73 were wounded and 4 of the dead were children, 6 year old Mo’taz Ali Ash-Shawwaf was killed by a bomb inside his school playground.[2]
 
In the same month major international organisations revealed the devastating consequences of Israel’s siege of Gaza. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that Israeli forces killed nearly 2,300 Palestinians and injured 7,700 in Gaza[3] over the last five years. Some 27 percent of the fatalities in Gaza were women and children, 605 children were killed and 2,179 were injured.
 
The World Health Organisation stated that Gaza has run out of 42 percent of essential medicines[4], adding that “Israel does not allow the Health Ministry in Gaza to send medical equipment for repair”. On the impact of the blockade on the health of children in Gaza[5] Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians reported that, “Gaza’s only fresh water source is now too dangerous to drink and is contaminated with fertiliser and human waste… Since the blockade started, the number of children under three being treated for watery diarrhoea has doubled. High levels of nitrate - found in faeces and fertiliser - is also linked to some cancers and is a massive risk to pregnant women.”
 
Five months before the Israeli 3 week massacre in Gaza over the new year of 2009, a visiting South African delegation, including ANC members, unanimously concluded that Israel’s 60-year treatment of Palestinians was worse than South African apartheid. Politician and former deputy minister of health Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge said, 'What I see here is worse than what we experienced - the absolute control of people’s lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw’. Sunday Times editor, Mondli Makhanya added: 'It is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of apartheid.’
 
We have had enough, enough of the world looking away, burying its head in the sand while our blood seeps through it. Our call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), backed by the overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society[6], has been a lightning rod for others who can relate to our plight. Each university that boycotts and/or divests from Israel's apartheid regime and all its complicit institutions, including all universities, is standing on the right side of history, just as students played a huge role in boycotting South Africa’s similarly racist apartheid regime until it fell in 1994.  When endorsing the successful boycott and ending of ties between the University of Johannesburg and Ben Gurion University (BGU) last year, the first of its kind, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said:
 
“While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation. BGU is no exception. By maintaining links to both the Israeli Defence Forces and the arms industry, BGU structurally supports and facilitates the Israeli occupation.” [7]
 
Just as students around the world throughout the 80’s were banning Barclays Bank from campuses for their investment in Apartheid, we call on you now to stand courageously again by building on the boycott by the University of Johannesburg and creating a mass student movement to boycott, divest and sanction from Apartheid Israel.
 
This year it is in your hands to see that the tide finally turns across the campuses in South Africa that collaborate with the Israeli regime's crimes against us to continue. We hope you put BDS at the forefront of your campaigns. We give you all our solidarity and send you our dearest wishes to do us proud this year. 
 
Signatures:
 
-Palestinian Student Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
 
-Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network- Youth Sector (21 Organizations).
 
-Student Blocs (Al-Aqsa University)
 
- Fateh Youth Movement – Palestine
 
- Student Youth movement in: An-Najah National university , Birzeit university, Alquds  
University, Arab American university, Hebron university, Palestine Polytechnic university , Bethlehem university, Alrawda college, Al-Aroub College, Modern University College, Alumma College, Palestine Technical College Al-Aroub.
 
- Student Youth Movement in Alquds open university in the following branches: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus, Salfeet, Toubas, Qalqilia, Jenin, Toulkarem, Bedia, Doura, Yata, Beit Sahour, Al-Ezariyyah (Bethany).                                                                                   
 
- Student Councils in the Following Universities and Colleges “An-Najah National university, Birzeit university, Alquds   University, Arab American university, Hebron university, Palestine Polytechnic university , Bethlehem university, Alrawda college, Al-Aroub College, Modern University College, Alumma College, Palestine Technical College Al-Aroub.
 
- Student Councils in Alquds Open University in the following branches: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus, Salfeet, Toubas, Qalqilia, Jenin, Toulkarem, Bedia, Doura, Yata, Beit Sahour, Al-Ezariyyah (Bethany).
 
- Palestinian Students Liberation Front
 
- Right to Education Campaign
 
- Youth Against the Settlements
 
- Palestinian youth struggle union
 
- Palestinians For Dignity
 
- Palestinian democratic Youth Union
 
Notes:
 

[8] http://apartheidweek.org/ 

Posted on 28-07-2012


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