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South African activist offers perspective on BDS

An impassioned speech by South African activist at Israeli Apartheid Week in London quickly gains attention.

The global symposium Israeli Apartheid Week kicked off a few days ago in cities and campuses around the world. Of particular note was an impassioned lecture given by a South African activist and PhD candidate called Mbuyiseni Ndlozi in London on Wednesday, on the connection between the struggle to end South African apartheid and what he described as an ‘evolved,’ and indeed worse, case in Israel.

Ndlozi’s statement stands in stark contrast to the recent video interview with Normal Finkelstein, who says plainly that the Palestinian struggle against Israeli apartheid should not extend beyond the confines of international law. Ndlozi encourages activists to go further and appeal to people’s principles of freedom, justice and equality, what he said worked in South Africa.

Ndlozi also highlights how the South African apartheid regime manipulated world opinion for decades in regards to the justification of separating Whites and Blacks and how this deception must be broken when it comes to Israel.

It cannot be true that on the face of the world today a people still exist who think they can survive with a system of separateness at the expense of others. It cannot be true that what we are continuing to do is to sit and talk all the time, that what we are continuing to do is sit and debate, is it apartheid or is it not, is it like South Africa or is it not. It is a violation of the fundamental right, the fundamental principles that we hold so dearly within our hearts. The principles of freedom, justice and equality.

These three points, which he repeats several times, boil down to the essence of calls for the solidarity campaign on which BDS is based.

Israeli Apartheid Week began in 2005 by a student group on the University of Toronto in Canada. It now takes place in over 40 cities worldwide and includes lectures, films, workshops and other activities that educate “about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system,” according to the website apartheidweek.org.

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    1. Jazzy

      the BDS believers are starting to squirm. International law is off the agenda now, is it? As if your credibility weren’t already in the toilet – now you’ve exposed your insincerity on a higher level. Look, nobody said cults die easy. They die hard. People who jumped on a political fad don’t like being exposed as fools. You’ll melt away eventually, quietly. We don’t expect a public renunciation. But, in the meantime, please spare us these pathetic pleas. Yes, maybe you’ve sway a Jazz singer here or there, but really, its quite over…

      Reply to Comment
    2. sh

      What Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said about rehashing old arguments was certainly spot on. If everyone who opposes the violence and subjugation just gets on with it instead of needing to rubbish somebody or something in order to validate themselves, something might actually move.

      Reply to Comment
    3. James

      A young white South African blogs about life under ‘reverse-apartheid’ in South Africa. Interesting stuff.


      Reply to Comment
    4. Shaun

      Are you seriously going to use Ndlozi as a legitimate human rights campaigner?

      Maybe 972 contributors should take a look at what COSATU has to say about the great leader’s of North Korea and their support for Ghadfi before using them to bash Israel…

      When Israel pumps its dubious record with gay rights it’s called “pink washing.” What do you call a group that has a dubious record of human rights?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Jon

      One of my early lessons in Middle East politics was that, when criticized, Arab governments were happy to change the subject — to Israel. It seems that we supporters are none better.

      The best direct refutation of the Apartheid charge is that Israeli Jews are stridently working to end official discrimination. I don’t have enough evidence of my own to draw a strong conclusion. But I do know that writing off the entire occupated population (Ariel Sharon’s words) as a rebellious element deserving of unending martial law is a giant moral stain.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Palestinian

      @ Shaun , so you give gay people their rights while denying the basic human rights of more than 4 million people that live under occupation ? its like lets “pretend” we respect gay people (to get international support and fulil the requirements to be listed under the democratic countries,according to Western values)and keep murdering the indigenous population to steal their land …but we are the only democracy in the region HURRAY

      Reply to Comment
    7. Steve

      Wow, more promotion of Israel-hating BDS, especially from the writer of this editorial, Omar Rahman.

      What junk.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Steve

      So while jihad terrorist organizations outside Israel seek to destroy Israel, antisemites from further away who pretend to be peace activists seek to destroy Israel via boycotts. This is what Israel is up against.

      Reply to Comment
    9. A list of ignorance’s by Mbuyiseni Ndlozi that strengthen the argument that the Apartheid statement does not apply to Israel.

      We need a SOLUTION! We need PEACE and BDS is NOT the way their.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Omar,

      Finkelstein is on to something.

      Ending apartheid was the result of a compromise that permitted Afrikaners to retain their economic power.

      It would be similarly constructive if BDS would call for the immediate unconditional withdrawel of Israel from the land it seized in 1967 (just as it previously left Lebanon and Gaza) and for reparations for Palestinians exiled since 1948 (just as Europeon Jews received reparations) – while expressly and clearly recognizing Israel.

      Your thoughts?

      Reply to Comment
    11. directrob

      Mbuyiseni Ndlozi is maybe good for moral but I do not like his speech. Asking for the withdrawal to 67 borders and evacuation of the settlements and a right of return and application of human rights is not against international law. It is international law. As with Apartheid the problem in implementing these laws is not the UN, but the strength of the IDF and the US that wants a strategic partner.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Steve

      The fake “right of return” nonsense = destroys Israel and ends the existence of the world’s only Jewish state.
      The “right of return” insanity, and the one-state “solution” nonsense, both mean turning Israel into a Palestinian state.
      So, that’s a no. Forever. The end. No matter what any crazy activists want.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Palestinian

      @ Steve ,who said we care about the Jewishness of Israel ?They came to us not the opposite .Russian and Polish Zionists shouldnt invade Palestine ,so if you dream about a Jewish state start looking for another place , maybe Vermont , its emtpy and inside the mother of Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Jazzy

      Thanks to the internet, cults can now live on virtually forever, as long as there’s a high priest somewhere who still updates the blog from time to time.

      Reply to Comment
    15. directrob

      Cults like the UN?

      (a) The withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem;
      (b) The realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, primarily the right to self-determination and the right to their independent State;
      22. Also stresses the need for a just resolution of the problem of Palestine refugees in conformity with its resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948;


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    16. delia ruhe

      The BDS campaign cuts a little too close to the bone for many Israelis, who are used to a no-consequences occupation. It’s not something that can be fixed in the Knesset by passing yet another piece of draconian legislation, or by demanding that Obama exercise his veto at the UN or sign some piece of AIPAC authored legislation passed by the US Senate, or by bombing something, or by assassinating someone. Strange that those very people who have made every possible ad hominem argument against Finkelstein and cheered the destruction of his academic career now respectfully cite him as the authority on BDS. BDS were effective in the fight against South African apartheid, and they will eventually be effective against Israeli apartheid because the movement is impervious to Israel’s claim of eternal victimhood. Deal with it.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Jazzy

      Delia, the knife cuts both ways. BDSers who praised Finkelstein cannot now disavow him with any credibility. His reputation within BDS, not AIPAC, is what matters – otherwise, nobody would have paid attention. That nobody has presented any rebuttals of substance – and BDS soldiers on with random nonsense like “impervious to Israel’s claims of eternal victimhood” only demonstrates further that BDS is a cult of liars and sanctimonious idiots.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Steve

      LOL at “Palestinian” and “DirectRob” still trying to undo Israel’s existence. What a waste of life.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Steve

      One by one, each pro-BDS person admits to also being against Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.
      BDS is a bigoted, antisemitic, pro-destruction (of Israel) movement for hatemongers who pretend to be peace activists.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Bill Pearlman

      BDS is the spiritual child of the stormtroopers. I believe the slogan in Berlin of the 1930’s was “the jews are our misfortune”

      Reply to Comment
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