Zionists fail to prevent Leila Khaled speaking tour in South Africa

Posted: February 4, 2015 by Admin in 'Counter-insurgency', Imperialism and anti-imperialism, Internationalism, Israel, Palestine, PFLP, State repression, State terrorism
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Zionist campaign to prevent Leila Khaled speaking tour of South Africa has failed miserably

by Susanne Kemp

Back in the days when apartheid reigned in South Africa, there were close ties between the racist regime and Israel.  At a time when South Africa was increasingly isolated as a pariah state, they could always rely on Israel for support, including selling them arms to keep down the black population, occupy Namibia and invade Angola.

These links have somewhat come back to bite the Zionist state over the past 20 years since the end of formal apartheid.  The Palestinians and those in South Africa fighting apartheid identified and solidarised with each other’s causes, so the end of apartheid was not good news for Israel.  Things got worse as prominent black activists who helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa have continued to identify with the Palestinian cause.  Indeed, support for the Palestinian cause is especially strong in South Africa.  For instance, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to oppose Israeli assaults on Gaza.

A recent development which has particularly got up the Israeli elite’s nose is the speaking tour of South Africa which Palestinian revolutionary icon Leila Khaled, a member of the central leadership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, begins tomorrow (February 5).  Leila is the guest of BDS South Africa, the South African section of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and will be speaking in eight cities there over ten days.

The Israelis and their local hacks have done what they can to stop the tour, just as they have tried – sometimes successfully, sometimes not – to get other countries to deny her entry visas.  Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Board of Jewish Deputies, who tries to make out that being Jewish and being Zionist are the same thing, declared, “By inviting Leila Khaled to this country, BDS-SA has conclusively demonstrated yet again that it has no interest in promoting peace, dialogue, reconciliation or understanding.”   Josh Benjamin, at the Times of Israel website, claimed she should not be allowed to enter South Africa and that “universities should ban her from their campuses.”

Jeremy Gordon, publisher of South Africa’s Daily Sun, ludicrously claimed in the Israeli daily Haaretz that BDS South Africa is trying “to provoke the local Jewish community”, again as if being Jewish is necessarily synonymous with being Zionist. On January 7, Haaretz squawked, “Infamous Palestinian plane hijacker Leila Khaled will be visiting South Africa next month as a guest of the local chapter of the international Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement and Muslim organizations.”

The South African Israeli Public Affairs Committee (SAIPAC) called on the South African government not to let Leila in.  SAIPAC’s David Hersh also tried to link her with Islamic fundamentalism.  Israel’s deputy ambassador to South Africa and spokesperson for their embassy there, Michael Freeman, declared that Leila’s visit to South Africa goes against the values that South Africa and the world stands for, and linked her views to the terrorist killings in Paris.  For a career apologist for the Israeli state and its crimes to talk about values like this is truly sickening.  Israel stands for the dispossession and oppression of the Palestinians and the continuing murder of any who resist, including children.

Leila, of course, is a secular, left-wing radical and opposed to Islamic fundamentalism; Israel, on the other hand, helped get Islamic fundamentalism going as a counter to the secular radicalism of movements like the PFLP.

Indicating the continued political degeneration of the PLO, and most especially its largest component (Fatah), the Palestinian embassy in South Africa failed to defend Leila, even though she’s a member of the Palestinian National Council and the PFLP is still part of the PLO.

Meanwhile, the total failure of the Israeli campaign to prevent Leila’s visit to South Africa is just the latest in a series of setbacks for the Zionists.  A new survey by the British think-tank Chatham House has found that 35 percent of the British public has an “especially unfavourable” view of Israel, up from 17% in 2012; a meagre 6% of people in Britain today have an “especially favourable” view of Israel. Only North Korea is viewed more negatively than Israel now in Britain!  Moreover, a 2013 BBC country’s rating poll showed that the total percentage of people in Britain with some kind of degree of negative view of Israel is at 72%.

The same poll showed that in Canada, 57% of people have an unfavourable view of Israel, while in Australia it is now 69%!  In France, the figure was 63%, in Germany 67% and in Spain 70%. The only country in the world recorded as having a public opinion that viewed Israel favourably is the United States and even there it is only 51%.

The tide is going out for the Zionist state and it’s not likely to come back in.  After all, the very existence of Israel as a sectarian entity requires it to continue to deny equality to Palestinians within its 1967 borders, occupy and oppress Palestinian land and people on the West Bank, repeatedly bomb and blockade Gaza, and deny the Palestinians the right of return.  Violence and oppression are all the Israeli state can dish up, all guaranteed to further alienate world public opinion.

This provides increasingly fertile ground for solidarity campaigns with the Palestinians.  But such campaigns do need to be solidarity campaigns.  And, for us on the left, that must include helping support the secular, left-wing forces of which Leila Khaled is such an inspiring leader.

Further reading:
For a campaign of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle 
New Zealand solidarity activist interviews Leila Khaled 
Is there a two-state solution to Israel-Palestinian conflict?

 

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