A child next to a picture of Nelson Mandela at a pro-Palestinian rally in Cape Town. August 9, 2014
(Foto by AP, Haaretz, Israel. www haaretz.com, thank you)
Some years ago I was lucky to meet some charismatic people like Nelson Mandela, Neville Alexander and others in South Africa. Neville belonged to the group of men who were arrested with Nelson Mandela in the same cell tract on Robben Island. I listened to the socialist guard of Cuba and their ambassador. I did so with marvelling eyes and an open and smiling heart. Today I sometimes think, we should read Marx one more time, then we would know what it is about the „dominion systems“ and we would get a better understanding why violence breaks out in all corners of the world. And perhaps by the better understanding, we would find the way out of these dynamisms.
At that time I also got to know the life partner of Steve Biko. She was the manager of the University of Cape Town. Steve Biko was the leader of the “ black liberation movement „. He was killed by the regime. They all were marked by the apartheid government to ‚terrorists‘. They were fighting for freedom and equal rights. As we know, Nelson Mandela became president of the state of South Africa in 1994.
The country was a young democracy. The big fear was that riots would come up. But the contrary happened. Mandelas efforts toward a policy which integrated all parts of population and his big gestures of the forgiveness which he so often pointed out, were a benefit to all people of the nation. Unforgettably are to me those people in townships and squattercamps who would have had all reason to hate „Whiteness“, but the said: „We must forgive. For the better sake of our children we have to forgive.“
On Mandelas side stood Archbishop Desmond Tutu. When I experienced him the very first time, I had to laugh because he did not fit at all in my picture of a high religious dignitary. He presented a very small man, full of energy, mercurially and with a very high voice. I remember, Jonathan Butler, a magnificent Soul singer, and the cardiologist Barnard sat with in the round in a big hall. We laughed all, because Tutu was so complete differently, he jumped around on the stage absolutely inspired from his message which he passed to the citizens of Cape Town and the world. At that time the Archbishop became an honorary citizen of Cape Town. For a long time he was already an archbishop of Cape Town, but they had refused the honorary citizen to him many years. And he made jokes about it. It`s been a real enjoyment to watch and to listen to him.
To him and Nelson Mandela owed South Africa the arrangement of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Desmond Tutu has been the chairperson. It was a matter of giving space to the truth and not the punishment. They wanted to get into the truth, into what had happened. Each of the offenders who were ready to state before this commission went out exempt from punishment. These sessions took place in different cities of South Africa and were broadcast on the South African television.
It was Desmond Tutu who cried in front of the camera and asked Winnie Mandela: “ Please, please, at least say I am sorry. Please, I beg you. „Terrible things happened also in her house. Children were trained to spies. If they did not want any more, they were killed. A football association should be involved. She did not excuse, but she said: „These were the times.“ Desmond Tutu has also been the godfather of (her) children.
An organization which campaigns different political- social requests sent an email to me. They actually ask for the signing respective petitions. Today they sent something else. It is a letter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He adresses the people of Israel. The letter was published exclusively in an Israeli newspaper. The organization thinks, it should be also read by the rest of the world and therefore they published the article.
I am glad that I can publish the article too.
My plea to the people of Israel: Liberate yourselves by liberating Palestine
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, in an exclusive article for Haaretz, calls for a global boycott of Israel and urges Israelis and Palestinians to look beyond their leaders for a sustainable solution to the crisis in the Holy Land.
The past weeks have witnessed unprecedented action by members of civil society across the world against the injustice of Israel’s disproportionately brutal response to the firing of missiles from Palestine.
If you add together all the people who gathered over the past weekend to demand justice in Israel and Palestine – in Cape Town, Washington, D.C., New York, New Delhi, London, Dublin and Sydney, and all the other cities – this was arguably the largest active outcry by citizens around a single cause ever in the history of the world.
A quarter of a century ago, I participated in some well-attended demonstrations against apartheid. I never imagined we’d see demonstrations of that size again, but last Saturday’s turnout in Cape Town was as big if not bigger. Participants included young and old, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, blacks, whites, reds and greens … as one would expect from a vibrant, tolerant, multicultural nation.
I asked the crowd to chant with me: “We are opposed to the injustice of the illegal occupation of Palestine. We are opposed to the indiscriminate killing in Gaza. We are opposed to the indignity meted out to Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks. We are opposed to violence perpetrated by all parties. But we are not opposed to Jews.”
Earlier in the week, I called for the suspension of Israel from the International Union of Architects, which was meeting in South Africa.
I appealed to Israeli sisters and brothers present at the conference to actively disassociate themselves and their profession from the design and construction of infrastructure related to perpetuating injustice, including the separation barrier, the security terminals and checkpoints, and the settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.
“I implore you to take this message home: Please turn the tide against violence and hatred by joining the nonviolent movement for justice for all people of the region,” I said.
Over the past few weeks, more than 1.6 million people across the world have signed onto this movement by joining an Avaaz campaign calling on corporations profiting from the Israeli occupation and/or implicated in the abuse and repression of Palestinians to pull out. The campaign specifically targets Dutch pension fund ABP; Barclays Bank; security systems supplier G4S; French transport company Veolia; computer company Hewlett-Packard; and bulldozer supplier Caterpillar.
Last month, 17 EU governments urged their citizens to avoid doing business in or investing in illegal Israeli settlements.
We have also recently witnessed the withdrawal by Dutch pension fund PGGM of tens of millions of euros from Israeli banks; the divestment from G4S by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the U.S. Presbyterian Church divested an estimated $21 million from HP, Motorola Solutions and Caterpillar.
It is a movement that is gathering pace.
Violence begets violence and hatred, that only begets more violence and hatred.
We South Africans know about violence and hatred. We understand the pain of being the polecat of the world; when it seems nobody understands or is even willing to listen to our perspective. It is where we come from.
We also know the benefits that dialogue between our leaders eventually brought us; when organizations labeled “terrorist” were unbanned and their leaders, including Nelson Mandela, were released from imprisonment, banishment and exile.
We know that when our leaders began to speak to each other, the rationale for the violence that had wracked our society dissipated and disappeared. Acts of terrorism perpetrated after the talks began – such as attacks on a church and a pub – were almost universally condemned, and the party held responsible snubbed at the ballot box.
The exhilaration that followed our voting together for the first time was not the preserve of black South Africans alone. The real triumph of our peaceful settlement was that all felt included. And later, when we unveiled a constitution so tolerant, compassionate and inclusive that it would make God proud, we all felt liberated.
Of course, it helped that we had a cadre of extraordinary leaders.
But what ultimately forced these leaders together around the negotiating table was the cocktail of persuasive, nonviolent tools that had been developed to isolate South Africa, economically, academically, culturally and psychologically.
At a certain point – the tipping point – the then-government realized that the cost of attempting to preserve apartheid outweighed the benefits.
The withdrawal of trade with South Africa by multinational corporations with a conscience in the 1980s was ultimately one of the key levers that brought the apartheid state – bloodlessly – to its knees. Those corporations understood that by contributing to South Africa’s economy, they were contributing to the retention of an unjust status quo.
Those who continue to do business with Israel, who contribute to a sense of “normalcy” in Israeli society, are doing the people of Israel and Palestine a disservice. They are contributing to the perpetuation of a profoundly unjust status quo.
Those who contribute to Israel’s temporary isolation are saying that Israelis and Palestinians are equally entitled to dignity and peace.
Ultimately, events in Gaza over the past month or so are going to test who believes in the worth of human beings.
It is becoming more and more clear that politicians and diplomats are failing to come up with answers, and that responsibility for brokering a sustainable solution to the crisis in the Holy Land rests with civil society and the people of Israel and Palestine themselves.
Besides the recent devastation of Gaza, decent human beings everywhere – including many in Israel – are profoundly disturbed by the daily violations of human dignity and freedom of movement Palestinians are subjected to at checkpoints and roadblocks. And Israel’s policies of illegal occupation and the construction of buffer-zone settlements on occupied land compound the difficulty of achieving an agreementsettlement in the future that is acceptable for all.
The State of Israel is behaving as if there is no tomorrow. Its people will not live the peaceful and secure lives they crave – and are entitled to – as long as their leaders perpetuate conditions that sustain the conflict.
I have condemned those in Palestine responsible for firing missiles and rockets at Israel. They are fanning the flames of hatred. I am opposed to all manifestations of violence.
But we must be very clear that the people of Palestine have every right to struggle for their dignity and freedom. It is a struggle that has the support of many around the world.
No human-made problems are intractable when humans put their heads together with the earnest desire to overcome them. No peace is impossible when people are determined to achieve it.
Peace requires the people of Israel and Palestine to recognize the human being in themselves and each other; to understand their interdependence.
Missiles, bombs and crude invective are not part of the solution. There is no military solution.
The solution is more likely to come from that nonviolent toolbox we developed in South Africa in the 1980s, to persuade the government of the necessity of altering its policies.
The reason these tools – boycott, sanctions and divestment – ultimately proved effective was because they had a critical mass of support, both inside and outside the country. The kind of support we have witnessed across the world in recent weeks, in respect of Palestine.
My plea to the people of Israel is to see beyond the moment, to see beyond the anger at feeling perpetually under siege, to see a world in which Israel and Palestine can coexist – a world in which mutual dignity and respect reign.
It requires a mind-set shift. A mind-set shift that recognizes that attempting to perpetuate the current status quo is to damn future generations to violence and insecurity. A mind-set shift that stops regarding legitimate criticism of a state’s policies as an attack on Judaism. A mind-set shift that begins at home and ripples out across communities and nations and regions – to the Diaspora scattered across the world we share. The only world we share.
People united in pursuit of a righteous cause are unstoppable. God does not interfere in the affairs of people, hoping we will grow and learn through resolving our difficulties and differences ourselves. But God is not asleep. The Jewish scriptures tell us that God is biased on the side of the weak, the dispossessed, the widow, the orphan, the alien who set slaves free on an exodus to a Promised Land. It was the prophet Amos who said we should let righteousness flow like a river.
Goodness prevails in the end. The pursuit of freedom for the people of Palestine from humiliation and persecution by the policies of Israel is a righteous cause. It is a cause that the people of Israel should support.
Nelson Mandela famously said that South Africans would not feel free until Palestinians were free.
He might have added that the liberation of Palestine will liberate Israel, too.
What are you planing in your city?
Demands of the Palestinians:
Opening of the Gaza Strip
Journey permission for the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip
Reconstruction of the destroyed airport
Construction of own harbour
Lead of a normal life in coexistence with Israel
International guarantee of the armistice
Free access to the Al Aksa mosque in East Jerusalem
The Israeli journalist Gideon Levy in addition: “ Who could not agree to these demands? „
V.i. S.d. P.: Michael Kellner
On Saturday , 23.08.2014, a rally takes place in Cologne from 15 o’clock to 17 o’clock. It s about solidarity and telling our government:
No more weapon exports to Israel! No training of German soldiers in Israel! Influencing control on the Israeli government, so that the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the cast of West Jordan is finished.
“ War solves no problems – it increases them „
Wallrafplatz – in the right school – Richartzstrasse – Minoritenstrasse – Breitestrasse – Richmodisstrasse – at the old post court – Krebsgasse – new Langgasse – Neven-du-Mont-Strasse – castle wall – Komödienstrasse – under fat hens – Wallrafplatz
Transparencies, Palestinian flags and rainbow-peace flags, pamphlets, a megaphone of the organizers are allowed
The organizers are: Cafè Palestine Colonia, the women’s way Middle East, Cologne women in black, Cologne peace forum inc, Middle East peace circle, Palestinian municipality, association to the city -partner of Cologne-Bethlehem, AG international law and human rights in Palestina and Israel.