Friday, November 22, 2019

Nelson Mandela’s grandson condemns “Israeli apartheid” at Palestine Expo in London


By Patty Diphusa - July 08, 2019
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Palestine Expo, the largest Palestine event in Europe was held in London on 6-7 July.

 

Among those invited to talk was the grandson of Nelson Mandela and South African Member of Parliament, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela. In his speech, he asserted that “we (South-Africans) have a moral duty to support the BDS and to support the Palestinian struggle”. 

 

Addressing a large audience, Mandela said that the Nation-State Law "confirmed what we have always known to be the true character and reality of Israel: Israel is an apartheid state". 

 

The Nation State Law, passed in 2018, declared Israel to be the historical homeland of the Jewish people, was denounced by many at the time as racist an undemocratic.

 

"Apartheid Israel perpetuates statutory discrimination through the very definition by the law as a Jewish state; by doing so it renders non-Jews as second-class citizens, alternately as foreigners in the land of their birth," Mandela stated.

During his speech, Mandela also addressed the attempt of the pro-occupation group UK Lawyers for Israel to cancel the Palestine Expo, labelling them as “defenders of a crime against humanity”.

 

The Palestine Expo was organised by British NGO Friends of Al Aqsa (FOA) to “proudly celebrate 

Palestinian art, history and culture whilst fostering discussion and activism in the UK”. 

 

During the two event days, a variety of offers were available to visitors. Interactive installations including a walk-through model of a checkpoint were used to highlight the human rights violations against Palestinians freedom of movement.

 

Conferences and talks were led by world-renowned scholars and activists from across Palestine and the world such as Palestinian Professor Joseph Massad, an Israeli journalist for Haaretz Gideon Levy, Palestinian Members of the Israeli Knesset Ahmad Tibi and Yousef Jabareen, and Palestinian activist and CEO of Gaza-based business Green Cake Majd Masharawi.

 

A main focus of the event was culture and heritage, allowing attendees to participate in exhibitions of Palestinian culture: from bridal wear and fashion, Palestinian-Bedouin coffee workshops, history and significance of olive trees in Palestine to Darbuka and Dabke dancing.

 

The event was supported by a team of NGOs of Palestinian, international and Jewish origin, both Israelis and non-Israelis. Last year the event attracted 15,000 visitors. 

 

Among the Jewish organisations coordinating the event was the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) and Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JJP), all of which are committed to rejecting occupation in Palestine. 

 

JJP maintains that “it is crucial that Jews speak out for Palestinians’ human rights”. According to JVL, they stand “against wrongs and injustice to Palestinians” and oppose “attempts to widen the definition of antisemitism beyond its meaning of hostility towards or discrimination against Jews as Jews”. 

 

This event has not only been regarded as important for its contribution to foster discussion and activism in the UK and elsewhere but also because culture and heritage are spheres of resistance. 

 

As Palestinian Professor at Birzet University and Minister of Culture Ehab Bassaiso stated, “in Palestine, cultural activity is also an act of resistance. On the one hand, it derives its strength from the need to preserve our people’s collective memory and history, as it must reinforce and uphold our national – rather than colonial – narrative,” Bassaiso said.

 

“On the other hand, culture in Palestine must be used today as a tool today to help us face the policies of exclusion, extremism, oppression, and discrimination”.

 

 

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