Ebrahim Moosa – Cii News | 02 October 2012
JOHANNESBURG – Palestinian solidarity efforts in South Africa have been charged a breath of fresh air, with the launch of the Coalition for a Free Palestine(CFP) in Johannesburg this week.
The initiative endorsed by a broad range of civil society organisations seeks to develop a clear, well co-ordinated and sustained programme of action for solidarity activities in support of Palestine. In attendance at the launch hosted by COSATU House on Friday were representatives from the ANC, COSATU, National Union of Mineworkers(NUM), South African Municipal Workers Union(SAMWU), The Palestine Solidarity Alliance(PSA), Al Quds Foundation, Boycott Divestment Sanctions(BDS), Jamiatul Ulama and others.
Coalition convener Tahir Sema said the principles guiding the work of the organisation were chosen carefully to accommodate divergent voices in the solidarity movement. “All organisations will never agree on the ideological posture of certain campaigns nor will they agree on everything we discuss with regard to Palestinian solidarity. (However) these set of principles are going to ensure that we all unite on the lowest common denominator to ensure unity in our solidarity.”
A founding document for the Coalition, adopted at the launch, lists among these guiding principles opposition to the illegal occupation and siege on Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the continued construction of the Apartheid Wall and settlements. It also berates the US, EU and others for their contempt shown to Palestinian democracy in the wake of the Palestinian elections of 2006, draws attention to Israeli war crimes during its Gaza invasion and highlights the continued exile of millions of Palestinian refugees.
Organisers say the CFP was inspired and humbled by international solidarity that turned the tide for the oppressed during the struggle against apartheid, and now wanted to repay this to the Palestinian people who were fighting for the just solution of a democratic state for all citizens. “After the defeat of Apartheid, the workers movement and the masses of South Africa did not forget their historic duty to recognise the Palestinian struggle as a continuing part of their own revolutionary struggles,” read a draft of the Founding Document.
The umbrella body which will embrace youth groups, trade unions, human rights and faith based organisations, artists collectives and political parties announced that its campaigns seek to send a clear signal to all those locally and globally who are keen to maintain the oppression of Palestinians. “Our solidarity knows no borders and we are keen to work with all who share our values for a new, just and democratic world order.”
Speaking at the launch, visiting Palestinian academic Professor Mustafa Abu Sway welcomed the establishment of the formation. “Let alone the light at the end of the tunnel, Palestinians do not even manage to see the tunnel..(Nonethless) such a coalition is very, very important for us. It sends us the message that we are not alone. It tells us that we should not be desperate, we should not be frustrated. It is very important that the world stands with us and I hope that this coalition will be repeated elsewhere(in other countries).”
As part of its strategic focus, the CFP will ensure information sharing and networking among member organisations and work towards the implementation of commonly agreed programmes and actions. It also envisages the convening of regular open meetings and the scheduling of an annual conference.Al Quds, Coaltion for a Free Palestine, Cosatu, Ebrahim Moosa, Israel, NUM, Palestine, samwu, Tahir Sema, Zionism