Israeli Apartheid Week

Israeli Apartheid Week

In Israeli Apartheid Week, let’s resolve to call out the commodification of anti-racist heroes:

We call on all freedom loving people, organizations and social movements to support the Palestine cause in the same way you responded to our call in the Global Anti-Apartheid Movement that greatly contributed in bringing the brutal apartheid regime in South Africa to its knees.

We appeal to every child in every village, every student and teacher in every classroom and school, every revolutionary worker in the factory and on the  shopfloor, every student and every academic at every institution of learning in the world; the young and old, male and female all who hold high the legacy of our great heroes, especially our global icon President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

We appeal to all of you to support the Israeli Apartheid Week with all your heart and soul. Let this unstoppable wave of protest carry our voices to every country, every city and every village of the world. We must ensure that our events of the Israeli Apartheid Week grows from 200 cities to 2000 cities in the world until Apartheid Israel is completely isolated and it held accountable for its crimes against humanity. Every child, every student and every worker must know Apartheid Israel as a racist pariah state that continues perpetrating heinous crimes against innocent Palestinian women, children and the elderly. We must leave no stone unturned in exposing Apartheid Israel’s atrocities.

Across the world, Israeli Apartheid Week 2019 is being marked with educational events and actions aimed at raising awareness of Israel’s apartheid regime’s atrocities against the Palestinian people and building support for the global Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement. Today, it is not uncommon for people to regard apartheid as a phenomenon of the past. The anti-apartheid work of people like my grandfather, Nelson Mandela, is often taught and spoken of as if disconnected from the present day. But this is a lie and a big mistake. The world is not free of apartheid, and so the work of fighting and dismantling systems built on racism and discrimination cannot be over.

My grandfather famously said that the freedom of South Africa is yet “incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” He recognised the parallels between South African apartheid and the regime imposed by the state of Israel. This reality of Israeli apartheid has become even more evident over the last few weeks, with Benjamin Netanyahu publicly proclaiming that Israel “is not a state of all its citizens”. Thank you Mr Netanyahu that is Apartheid!

Like many other anti-apartheid heroes, Madiba believed fiercely in solidarity between oppressed peoples, and the Palestinian people are no exception. We must therefore be incredibly wary of any attempts to commodify the legacies of these figures or to whitewash their words or beliefs – especially when these tactics are deployed by companies or institutions which are complicit in Israeli apartheid.

One glaring example of this kind of commodification is taking place right now at King’s College London (KCL) university. Perhaps the most famous and high profile alumnus of KCL is anti-apartheid hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the university has channeled significant time and resources into promoting this fact far and wide. They’ve had rooms named after Tutu, scholarships named after him, and statues and posters of him displayed all across the campus.

We call on students, workers and academics during this Israel apartheid week to flood the campus with posters and pickets demanding that KCL ends its complicit relationship with the brutal Israeli killing machine.

Meanwhile, KCL holds a partnership with Technion – State of Technology, a leading research and development Israeli institution for the Israeli arms trade. Technion developed the remote controlled D-9 bulldozer which was used by the Israeli military during Operation Cast Lead, a war killing 1,400 Palestinians, the vast majority of which were civilians. These bulldozers are now routinely used to demolish Palestinian homes, factories, agricultural land and civilian infrastructure, including water pipes and networks on Palestinian territory assigned by the UN. Technion also maintains strong partnerships with multiple arms companies such as Elbit Systems which manufactures and supplies the Israeli military with drones, used regularly in attacks on Palestinian civilians.

In 2014, Desmond Tutu stated publicly that he believed Israel to be guilty of apartheid in its treatment of the Palestinian people. He also endorsed Palestinian Civil Society’s call for global boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it respects the fundamental human rights of Palestinians. It is therefore deeply problematic for KCL to be using Desmond Tutu’s legacy to further their own brand and reputation, despite having such strong links to a regime of military occupation which Tutu condemned in the strongest possible terms.

This kind of hypocrisy must be called out. Educational institutions have such a crucial role to play in tackling the greatest challenges facing humanity; in pushing for global peace and justice. But they cannot fulfill this role whilst supporting Israeli apartheid.

During the 1980s, student activists across the world played a key role in challenging and delegitimising the regime of apartheid in South Africa. In a similar way, students activists today – both in the UK and beyond – are playing an integral part in the international Palestine solidarity movement. A crucial part of this is holding their institutions to account over their connections with Israeli apartheid. Many UK universities remain deeply complicit in human rights violations against the Palestinian people through investments and institutional links.

Today, students at over 30 UK universities are taking action to raise awareness of this crucial issue and to push for change on their campuses as part of the #ApartheidOffCampus campaign. They are continuing the legacy of anti-apartheid heroes such as Tutu and Mandela – and they should have the full support of all those who believe in freedom, justice and equality. We shall not rest until Palestine is free.

The legacy lives on and the dream shall never die.

By Nkosi Zwelivelile
Royal House of Mandela (RHoM)
South Africa



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