On 3 June in Cape Town about 5,000 people marched in protest of Israel and their brutal and evil actions against Palestinians and, more so, their attack on the flotilla of six ships that was headed for the Gaza Strip with 10 tons of aid. It was meant to be the largest amount of aid to be sent to the region at one time. The ships, which were carrying journalists, activists and parliamentarians, were in international waters when Israeli forces attacked, killing nine people.
I attended the march that started roundabout at midday from Keizergracht Street in the city center and proceeded to Parliament to hand over a memorandum. The South African government has recalled its ambassador to Israel, but refuses to cut any diplomatic ties with them.
I spoke to many people that particpated in the march – children, teachers, Jews and Palestinians. Everyone felt very passionate and emtional, many expressing similar sentiments by saying that this was the only way they could show their support for Palestine and to stand in solidarity for the people of Palestine who are living with constant terror and fear being instilled in them by Israelis.
I spoke to a Palestinian man who told me an awful story. He served six years of a life sentence handed to him by the Israelis. He is the only one of his family living in South Africa. He lost two brothers to the war and he has a daughter still living in Palestine. He can’t ever go back. If he does he will be imprisoned again. He said that he expects a call everyday to say that someone in his family has been killed by Israeli forces. This to me indicated that it has become an accepted occurrence – to have a relative or friend brutally tortured or murdered. It is something that they expect on a daily basis. Palestinians have in a way become desensitised to what is happening to them. Isn’t that an awful way to live? To think that it’s normal to be treated so inhumanely. This man that I spoke to was nearly moved to tears to see the support that he has in South Africa. Words cannot describe how appreciative he was that there are people standing in solidarity with him and his fellow brothers and sisters in Palestine.
At the march I also spoke to a Jewish woman who is all for the Palestinian cause and supports it 100%. She said that according to the Torah there is NO Israel – the “Israelis” do not belong in that region.
I think it’s very important to understand that there is a difference between Judaism and Zionism. We have a habit of mistaking all Jews to be Zionists. The true believers of Judaism do not support Israel – it’s the Zionists.
The whole Palestinian-Israeli issue angers everyone. However, what annoys me the most is that international bodies such as the United Nations, which is supposed to look after people in war-torn regions, is not even attempting to intervene and try to provide some protection to at least the women and children of Palestine. They want to send statements condemning this and that but it really doesn’t make a difference. ACTION needs to be taken. They are always ready to send their forces to resolve conflict in all the poor countries. But what about Palestine? Why can’t they intervene there? It is double standards when it comes to Palestine, as Sheikh Ebrahim Gabriels of the Muslim Judicial Council had said.
Even though it seems that we cannot do much from afar, we still have to try to do all that we can, even if it’s just by protesting to show our dissatisfaction. We can only hope and pray that we will soon see the fall of Zionism.