The South African National coalition for Palestine (NC4P), consisting of more than 30 organisations working for the liberation of the Palestinian people, warmly welcome this special 2014 session of the RTOP to consider the issue of war crimes in Israel’s latest war on Gaza. We remember with gratitude the 2011 session of RTOP in Cape Town under the leadership of that exceptional human being, Stephane Hessel.
Although the system of Apartheid in South Africa was evil and committed many crimes against humanity, we did not experience the kind of violence that Israel continually metes out to the people of Gaza. Archbishop Tutu has called Israel a bully, and we fully agree with that. What is more, this bully expects to get away with its evil deeds and through various forms of hasbara hopes that the world will continue to regard them as the primary victims. The RTOP exercise, as a citizen-based exercise in truth-seeking and truth-finding, is extremely important as it seeks to hold Israel accountable for its actions, even if some national governments and even transnational bodies refuse to or are incapable to do so – and in fact support Israel’s actions.
When 200 000 of our people recently marched in the streets of Cape Town, our intention was to give encouragement and support to the people of Gaza, and to stand for the principles of humanity. As Civil society, we have no choice but to keep the flame of hope alive until the people of Palestine achieve their freedom. Our freedom and their freedom is indivisible, and we will continue to honour Nelson Mandela by expressing our total unity with the people of Palestine.
It is also time that we express our utmost disgust at those countries (the USA, Germany, etc) that supply Israel with arms and we hope this session of the RTOP will strengthen the call for a complete arms embargo against Israel.
The times we live in is a test of our humanity and of global accountability systems. We will not wait on corrupt governments and businesses to take this stand: we, the people, will hold Israel accountable with all the energy that we can muster. The arc of the universe is bent towards justice, and we believe that justice and freedom will reign, even if it takes time and even if it sometimes does not look like it will.
On 25 November, we hope to have a global Music festival in Cape Town to call for the Freedom of Palestine, and we hope that some of you will join us for this. As you know, when African people sing and make music, things happen and we believe this will be a fitting way to end this special Year of Solidarity with the people of Palestine.
May the children of Gaza watch over you as you meet at this special session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. We trust for an exceptional outcome.
Many blessings to you.
Rev Edwin Arrison (Chairperson NC4P)