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SAFTU IN SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) condemns the continued attacks on the people of Palestine by the Israel apartheid forces. The residents of the Gaza Strip continue to be fired upon, and the Zionist leader Benyamin Netanyahu pronounced Israel’s murderous intent, to impose “a very heavy price for their belligerence … their blood is forfeit.”

In reality, it is the Zionists, and not Hamas, who are belligerent. On Tuesday (11 May) night and Wednesday (12 May) morning, Israel proved this by continued air strikes on the Gaza Strip. The latest strikes are reported to have killed 3 people amongst whom was a four-month pregnant woman, taking the total death toll to 43 Palestinians and 5 Israelis. Hamas can now claim to have the capacity to target the Ben Gurion Airport.

The attacks on Tuesday and Wednesday against Palestinians follow violence against worshippers at holy places of prayer in Jerusalem. This followed Palestinian protest against Israeli incursions into the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

The Israelis are reminding us, again and again, of how they have pursued illegal occupation, since the settler colonial establishment of Israel in 1948 which drove 700 000 Palestinians from their homes and land, followed by millions more displacements as the West Bank was occupied.

In a terroristic style, the new attacks not only treat Palestinians as though they are sub-humans, but has also focused on destroying infrastructure, communications, pipelines, in addition to buildings such as a 13-storey Gaza residential tower bloc which was bombed by Israel. The attack on the communication infrastructure may be a preparation for further killings of Palestinians on a mass scale – now without social media to broadcast such crimes.

SAFTU is dismayed at the biased conceptual framing of calls for “de-escalation”. Would those making this appeal also have asked anti-apartheid protesters to de-escalate our pressure against the Pretoria regime, prior to victory in 1994?

The framing is skewed and by implication equates retaliation by Hamas with Israeli state terror. The Hamas fighers – and other Gaza, West Bank and diasporic activists – aim to liberate Palestinian lands from illegal Israel settler colonial occupation. The criminal violence is overwhelmingly that of Israel’s enforced dispossession of Palestinian lands, and is being amplified now, at a time of political turbulence, by the Israel apartheid state and right-wing settlers.

In the first place, Hamas would not have fired into Tel Aviv had it not been for Israel’s structural violence, committed with the backing of the USA.

Palestinians have every right to be gatvol with the prevailing oppressive settler-colonial power that Israel holds over not only the West Bank, but also Gaza’s its borders, airspace, Mediterranean coast, and water, sanitation and electricity supply. Their retaliation must be viewed against the background of international organisations supposedly dedicated to ‘peace’ and ‘justice’ having done nothing to change the power balance since 1948. Western imperialist power is still protecting Israel’s illegal occupation and all that it entails.

Emily Horne, Secretary of the US National Security Council, confirms that Joe Biden expresses “unwavering support for the Israel forces.” Revealingly, a State Department spokesperson has refused to condemn Israel for its bombings of Gazans and the preponderance of destruction, confirming that Biden is identical to Donald Trump when it comes to bolstering Zionist occupation.

This comes as no surprise because Israel’s settler colonialism was established with the help of the United States from the outset, given Israel’s role as one of two major subimperialist allies in the region, along with Saudi Arabia’s deranged monarchy. The arrogance of Netanhayu and the entire Zionist political establishment is emboldened by Washington. Having overthrown or carried out character-assassination propaganda against great Palestinian leaders – under the auspices of championing democracy and human rights – the continued U.S. support for Israel exposes its hypocrisy.

The U.S. ruling class cares selfishly for its economic interests in this region, and along with Christian evangelical fanatics who promote the superstition that Israel will host the “end times” return of Jesus Christ and the beginning of the Rapture.

Whether the U.S. State Department or far-right Christian fundamentalists, this alliance supported the apartheid government for as long as it benefited their ideological warfare against communism and served the economic interests of their corporations during the “cold war”. It was only the collapse of the USSR and the white business community’s partial break with the Pretoria regime due to the power of local protesters and international sanctions, that Washington supported one-person one-vote democracy for South Africa.

SAFTU believes a similar process of change can be achieved, if Israel’s businesses are targeted with sanctions, along with multinational corporate associates. We support intensifying the Boycott Divestment Sanctions BDS pressure from the world’s trade unions, human rights organisations, youth, faith communities and other grassroots movements, against the apartheid regime in Israel.

SAFTU join hands with all progressive organisations and trade unions who stand against Israeli apartheid, by pledging solidarity with the Palestinian people. We urge all working-class organisations across the world to protest this latest set of atrocities, including in South Africa at our parliament and Israeli state offices, as has begun this week. We call for all people of conscience to rally, and to pressure governments, businesses and all institutions to divest and cut ties with Israel:

  • • Stop handling goods imported from or exported to Israel,
  • Divest trade union pension – and other – funds from Israel bonds and from corporations and banks that are complicit in Israel’s occupation and human rights violations,
  • Dissociate from Israeli trade unions which are complicit in the occupation,
  • Support the call for a military embargo on Israel, and
  • • Boycott Israeli products

This campaign should be intensified until Israel complies with international law, respects the rights of Palestinians to exist as a state, the human rights and lives of Palestinians.