The South African Muslim dilemma: ANC and Palestine or DA and Israel?
Remarks by Affan Sosibo on behalf of the ANCYL to the Muslim anti-apartheid veterans.
Scottburgh town hall 23/07/2014
Chairperson and your patriots
I am highly pleased to be here.
The ANC is a “broad Church” led by South Africans of all tribes, races and religions. No party in this country can claim to have so many Muslims, Jews and Hindus in every level of leadership from the branches to the National Executive committee. You, the South African Muslims were the first to call for an organised black rebellion against colonialism. It was Dr Abdullah Abdurrahman who founded the African Political Action in 1902 long before the founding of the African national Congress (ANC) in 1912. Throughout our struggle against apartheid the South African Muslims were leading everywhere, in exile, inside the country and in the jungle. The Muslim countries also played a big role in the struggle against apartheid.
In the early sixties the British foreign secretary received a message from the emissary of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Ahmed bin Ali Al thani. The Emir politely informed the British, in no uncertain terms, that the apartheid regime in South Africa and the Zionist Regime in Palestine were an affront to humanity and had to be defeated. The British authorities later found out that the Emir was speaking due to heavy pressure exerted on him by the Muslim countries of Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan. Ironically, while these Muslim countries were mobilising against apartheid, Israel was busy sending arms to South Africa to kill the blacks and helped to start a nuclear weapons program geared towards ensuring White minority rule all over Southern Africa. Pakistan hosted Dr Yusuf Dadoo who briefed them about the struggle against apartheid and the condition of Indian people in apartheid South Africa. Indonesia and Egypt together with Ghana and India formed a strong anti-apartheid bloc at the United Nations (UN).
In 1965, Algeria hosted many fighters from the African National Congress, who received military training before returning to South Africa to execute military operations. Nelson Mandela received his initial military training by the revolutionaries of the National Liberation Front in Algeria in the early 1960s, when he decided to establish a military arm to the African National Congress. Upon release from prison 1990 Nelson Mandela travelled to the USA where the Jews tried to force him to distance himself from Chairman Yasser Arafat and Colonel Muamar Gaddafi. Mandela lucidly told the Americans that Arafat and Gadhafi were staunch supporters of the liberation struggle in South Africa not only in rhetoric but they also put resources at the disposal of the ANC to free South Africa.
This global Muslim struggle against apartheid was beautifully complemented by the role played by the South African Muslims in the struggle against apartheid. In every sphere and in every phase of the revolution the South African Muslims were active and leading. The Jewish community also joined in the struggle, mainly communists like Joe Slovo, Ronnie kasrils, Albie Sachs, George Bizos and Denis Goldberg, A significant part of this community contributed and benefited from the exploitation and oppression of the black masses. Opposition to apartheid was carried out in the form of protests, strikes, military operations and total DE legitimisation of the apartheid regime. Jews who opposed Botha within an apartheid parliament are not revolutionaries they are just disagreeing on policies and legislations but otherwise accept the apartheid framework.
Many Muslim South Africans, both individuals and organizations, fought bravely against the apartheid regime.
In addition to the well-known high profile Muslim anti-apartheid personalities, there were very many ordinary Muslims who fought and died or fought and triumphed against apartheid. From the late 1930s, Muslims began playing a role in the struggle against apartheid in excess to what their numbers might suggest. Many of these Muslims joined the various liberation movements that were active: the African National Congress, the Pan Africanist Congress, the Black Consciousness Movement, the South African Communist Party, and other socialist or nationalist organisations. Among many prominent revolutionaries I must mention Rahima Moosa, Fatima Meer, Amina Chachalia ,Naledi Pandor, Dr Abdullah Yusuf, Dr Yusuf Dadoo, Dr Ahmed Kathrada, Prof Kader Asmal, Yunus Chachalia, Mo and Yunus Shaik, Mohammad Vally Moosa, Dr Abdullah Omar, the martyr Ahmed Timol, Cissie Gool, The Martyr Imam Haron,The martyr Mohseen Jeenah, Amina Desai, Ebrahim Rasool, Ebrahim Ebrahim, Suleiman Desai, Moosa Moola, Aziz and Essop Pahad, Yunus Carrim, Rehan Surve, Ismail Moola, Farid Essack, Imam Rashid Omar, Ebrahim moosa, Shaiyk Matura, Nur al Iman , Ebrahim Patel , Ismail Mahomed , Zak Yakub, mohammed Enver Surty , Fatima Hajaig , I. C Meer, Yusuf Cachalia , Abdullah Abdurrahman , Umar haji Ahmed Jhaveri , Shamima Shaik and many many others.
At the dawn of democracy in 1994 many Muslims retreated from political life and took academic posts, business endeavours and spiritual pursuits. In fact if you look into our academic sphere, business sector, research and scientific institutions you will find Muslims there working hard to make South Africa a better place. President Nelson still managed to field many Muslims in in his cabinet and in President Thabo Mbeki’s first term Muslims were placed in rather very strategic centers of power. By 2004 South African Muslims were nowhere to be seen in the South African public space save a few names. Today the number of active Muslims in the ANC is rapidly declining at an alarming speed.
Today the South African Muslim fraternity is perceived as being pro-Democratic alliance (DA).
Well the councillor in my ward is from the DA.
It is true that the ANC is unable to effectively defeat corruption and it is still struggling to meet the acceptable levels of competency that are needed to run a successful economy. But running a country is not only about that, it is also about principles and the value system that we seek to entrench in our society.
The DA appears attractive to most pious Muslims because of its liberal façade compared to the radical ANC but what about values and principles. The ANC is guided by the grievances and aspirations of all South Africans regardless of their religious background. We meet regularly with Hindu and Jewish leaders just as we meet the Muslims and Christian leaders.
But my audience here today is Muslim so I will focus on ANC -Muslim relations.
The differences between the ANC and the DA with regards to Muslim interests are easy to detect.
1. The ANC says the slaughter of Palestinians by Israel is barbaric and inhuman while the DA issued a strong statement condemning ANC activists such as Comrade Rene Smit for showing solidarity with Palestine.
2. The ANC condemns Nazism but also draw parallels between the Jews under Hitler and Palestinians under Jewish occupation but the DA condemn Nazism and then say nothing about Palestinian suffering
3. The ANC organises Palestine solidarity rallies across the country while the DA councillor in Pennington refused to let the pro-Palestinian activists use the only town hall available.
4. The DA condemns Zimbabwe’s expropriation of land by Zimbabweans from foreign settlers but support stealing of Palestinians land by foreign settlers.
5. The ANC says South Africa belongs to all who live in it black and white, united in diversity and bound by matters of common concern and sharing a common dream. The DA says South Africans who wishes to settle in the Western Cape are “refugees” and therefore an unwanted burden but it encourages the establishment of Mini kibbutz throughout the province as its vote banks.
6. DA members proudly posted photos of their family members who are serving in the Israel occupation forces while the ANC leadership here had to chastise ANCYL members who declared their readiness to go and fight for the Palestinians.
7. In the ANC, Muslims are serving in all structures from a branch to the National executive committee, from Municipality councils right up to the cabinet, elected directly by the black members of the ANC but the DA SELECT Muslims for window dressing purposes because members of the DA would never ELECT a Muslims.
8. The DA calls for constructive engagement with Israel but want all ties with Zimbabwe to be cut. Is it about white and black?
9. While the DA criticised the ANC for allegedly accepting funds from Gaddafi, the DA received R6.3m from Natie Kirsh through Glynis Breytenbach. Natie Kirsh made his fortune in the Palestinian occupied territories and is a well-known Zionist.
10. Not one Muslims serves in the Western Cape government. The Muslim community accounts for 25% of the Cape Town population – the province’s single-largest municipality – yet only one Muslim made it on the DA provincial list of 42 candidates submitted to the Independent Electoral Commission while since 1994 till date Muslims have been serving in the most strategic departments in the ANC government from education, foreign ministry, Home affairs, Intelligence, Justice, transport to even the presidency itself.
11. The ANC accepted the call from the Ulama to pass the Muslim marriages act and granted permission to construct mosque and madrassas; the Democratic Alliance objected and blocked the Muslim trustee’s efforts to build madrassas in their former white areas. The South African Muslim Network (Samnet) has spent years fighting the DA’s opposition to the building of Masjids and other facilities in “white areas”.
Post-1994, with the Group Areas Act behind us, religious groups have equal rights. That includes the right to build places of worship. But the DA discriminates Islam.
12. The ANC youth league issued a strong condemnation of the film that attacked the prestige and honour of prophet Mohamed (May Allah grant him peace and blessings)
13. The oldest liberation movement in South Africa, the African Political Action founded by Abdullah Abdurrahman 1902 called for the rights of blacks to vote whereas the DA founder Helen Suzman attended the human rights conference in London in June 1947 as the representative of the South African institute of race relations and there she vehemently opposed the right of black people to vote and scolded the delegates for not understanding “The South African … native primitiveness, both in his mentality and his living condition and the difficulty of allowing him to vote…without previously subjecting him to some kind of literacy test to determine his ability to vote”. Oliver Tambo described Suzman as “a sweet bird from the south that flew north and sung a beautiful song “I am in favour of change but I am also ready to prevent change”.
14. The DA and its Zionist allies in the ACDP and IFP receive funding from the Israeli embassy and companies that operate in occupied Palestinian territories. If Muslims keep voting for the DA then you are strengthening the Zionist bloc and that will result to the Zionist lobby gaining power to influence legislations or push the ANC into desperation for Jewish votes.
15. When Benjamin Netanyahu’s emissary Hussein Solomon claimed that the South African Muslims were plotting with Al Qaeda to bomb world cup stadiums, the ANC defended Muslims.
My ANCYL branch is immensely pained and angered that the defenceless Palestinian people are and have been subjected to the fury of war by a foreign power acting in clear violation of international law and in furtherance of a racist colonial agenda which the people of this country are still recovering from.
We have joined the ANC and its allies in condemning the genocide against the Palestinian people. Our action to issue that call is inspired by our desire, not to take sides, but to join the global community in the struggle for the freedom of the Palestinian people, the restoration of their dignity and their right to statehood.
We are pleased to note that most countries that fought on our side during our struggle for freedom are now engaged in the struggle for the freedom of the Palestinian people. Regrettably the South African government is not on the side of its erstwhile comrades.
We note that the premier organisations for the liberation of our people such as the African National Congress (ANC), The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL), the South African communists Party (SACP), the Congress of South African Trade Unions, (COSATU) are still on the trenches fighting for the Palestinian freedom consistent with the call from President Nelson Mandela that “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”
We are aware
THAT The South African apartheid Prime Minister, Hendrik Verwoerd said “the Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for 1,000 years. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state”.
THAT the UN Human Rights Rapporteur John Dugard, a South African legal professor and apartheid expert, said that “Israel’s laws and practices” in the Occupied Territories “certainly resemble apartheid”.
THAT the former South African ambassador to Israel Ismail Coovadia rejected a gift of 18 trees planted in his name by the Jewish National Fund, a body that has played an important role in the displacement of Palestinians. Ismail Coovadia made striking criticism of Israeli policies, calling them a “replication of apartheid”.
THAT our beloved Archbishop Desmond Tutu said “I know first-hand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed.”
THAT the colonial immigration to Palestine of a European people has resulted to more than 12-000 Palestinians homes destroyed and more than 250-000 colonial settlements built on Palestinian land.
Further to this end;
WE understand the Palestinians reason in rejecting a partition plan in 1947 which gave the Jews, who only owned 7 percent of the land, an astonishing half of Palestine.
WE support the Arab’s refusal to succumb to such partition, where 86 percent of the land designated for the proposed Jewish state was Palestinian-inhabited and owned land.
WE register our awareness that Israel grabbed 78 percent of Palestine through war and forced the flight of the population through deliberate massacres and then shamelessly called it a war of independence.
WE condemn the evilness of Nazism but also the use of the plight of Jews in Hitler’s Germany as justification for the murder, expulsion, and occupation of another guiltless people.
WE regard as classical colonialism the decision by Israel to legislate that any resident of France, Romania, New York, India, Australia, Iceland, or even China has a right to “return” and settle in Palestine to someone who has been expelled from his very own land, confined to a squalid refugee camp, and still holds the keys to his house.
WE are painfully aware that Israel incarcerate the Palestinian people inside squalid ghettos, destroying their livelihoods, confiscating their lands, stealing their water and uprooting their trees, and then disingenuously condemn their legitimate resistance as terrorism.
WE have not forgotten that Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 and indiscriminately bombarded its civilians for a relentless three months, murdering thousands of innocent people.
WE know that Israel continue to humiliate the Palestinians at gun point by forcing them queue for hours to move between their villages, forcing mothers to give birth at check-points through a 441 miles apartheid wall which disconnects farmers from their farms and children from their schools, while stealing even more territory as the wall freely zigzags and encroaches on Palestinian land.
In light of the above, our demands, as articulated by the broader Palestine Solidarity network, are:
1. The immediate withdrawal of our ambassador from Tel Aviv;
2. Expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Tshwane;
3. To terminate and prohibit all trade relations with the Israeli government and citizens.
4. A strategic, effective commitment to the call for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in the form of the following directives;
* Implementation of the decisions of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference in Durban in 2006 to ban all products of Israeli companies operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and prevent the entry of Israeli settlers into South Africa;
* Prosecute South Africans who enlist in the Israeli Occupation Forces in accordance with the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act;
*Issue guidelines to South African citizens and businesses, in line with guidelines issued by 17 European governments to discourage support for Israel`s occupation and illegal colonies; and
* Adopt ethical and international legal guidelines to exclude international corporations such as Caterpillar, G4S, Veolia, from public contracts and South African companies such as Cape Gate because of their complicity with violations of international law by Israel.
* South African government and Non-Aligned Movement support for SWIFT sanctions against Israeli banks until the Israeli government:
- Agrees to relinquish its nuclear weapons, and to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty,
- Agrees to release immediately all Palestinian political prisoners,
- Agrees to end its occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and that it will dismantle the Apartheid Wall,
- Recognizes the fundamental rights of Arab-Palestinians to full equality in Israel-Palestine,
- Acknowledges the right of return of Palestinian refugees, and
-maintain no contact with Israel until a peaceful solution is found and Palestine is free.
South African Muslims must understand that it is difficult for a political party to follow principles when it is losing support on the ground. The ANC will not be able to remain committed to the Palestinian struggle if that is costing us votes. By voting for the DA you are weakening the ANC and strengthening the Zionist alliance. Remember that the IFP and ACDP support Israel because of biblical injunctions and when they get to power, only Jews and Christians will be welcomed and anybody who is not mentioned in the bible will be ostracised. I call upon all South African Muslims to come back home in the ANC. If the party is veering out of the correct path come and correct it from within.
The ANC wants all South Africans including the whites and blacks, Jews and Muslims, Hindus and atheists to live in communal harmony and peace in a united, safe and prosperous South Africa. Come and help us to achieve that. Together we can do more. AMANDLA!!!