Day that changed Palestinian lives forever

It is 100 years since the signing of Balfour Declaration that sealed the fate of the Palestinians people who were forced off their land,
writes an Al Qalam Reporter

The South African Coalition for Palestine has called for November to be a month of activism and awareness of Palestinian oppression in the backdrop of this week’s celebrations marking 100 years of the Balfour Declaration in which the British unjustly promised Palestinian land for the creation of the Jewish State of Israel.

It was on November 17, 1917 that the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour signed a letter promising the land of Palestine to the Zionist Federation. In just 67 words, he changed the course of history of the Palestinian people who have since lived and died in misery.

With Jewish migration increasing at a tremendous space, the actions drew tensions with the indigenous people. In 1948, Jewish gangs drove out over 800 000 Palestinians – Muslims and Christians – and destroyed hundreds of villages in the process. And those that resisted were massacred. This dispossession of their land has come to be known as the Nakba or the catastrophe.

More than six million Palestinians live in exile; two million live in Gaza and 2.9-million in the West Bank. Those that managed to remain in their homes number only 1.75 million live under discrimination in the so-called State of Israel.

The anniversary of the Balfour Declaration this week has sparked massive anti-Zionist protests around the world, including South Africa.
Yesterday afternoon, members of The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), joined by anti-Israel activists, marched to the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria, demanding justice for the Palestinians – and for the hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held illegally in Israel jails.

Shaykh Isgaak Taliep Secretary-General of the Muslim Judicial Council said in a statement: “As we mark the 100th anniversary of the dishonorable Balfour Declaration, the Muslim Judicial Council (SA) wholeheartedly supports the call of the Media Review Network (MRN) to mobilize the international community and the United Nations, to pressurize the illegal Zionist entity called Israel, to abandon its racist ideology and to establish a unitary state.

“Furthermore, we lend our support to the Balfour Apology Campaign demanding Britain to apologize for its destructive colonial past and change its policy toward Palestine and implement the necessary steps toward restorative justice and peace”.

To mark the tragic event of the Balfour Declaration, the Shamsaan Foundation yesterday started off with an education drive by addressing children at the Anjuman Islam Primary School in Durban.

To mark this event Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer, along with Palestine activists Nadia Meer, Yasmine Suleiman and Hassan Noor Mahomed from the Shamsaan foundation were hosted at the School.

Noor Mahomed, who is the coordinator of the Global Children’s Walk said: “The Learners were shown videos about the struggle and the history of it which saddened them. They were then shown videos of Janna Jihad, an 11 year old journalist from Palestine who had visited South Africa recently. This brought the level of enthusiasm of the children to a high,” he said.

He added the song “We are the world” was played and there was a photo shoot of the kids with their hands in the air “screaming for a Free Palestine.”
Meanwhile, Shamsaan (South Africa) has launched intensive social media campaign #United4Freedom over the month of November that will include several events and activities to be held in cities across South Africa, simultaneously with the people of Palestine and partners in several countries like Italy and Turkey and Palestinian refugee communities in Lebanon, Jordan and the diaspora.

On November 26, it is hosting the Global Palestine Children’s Walk for Freedom in cities and towns across South Africa and internationally. In Durban, the walk will start at the Country Club lawn (Sunkist Beach) at 9am.

This is being done in collaboration with various communities, schools and human rights organizations in South Africa and together with its international partners.

“The Shamsaan Children’s Walk for Freedom aims to create international awareness and demonstrate solidarity with the occupied and oppressed Palestinians, particularly children. Palestinian children in Jerusalem, West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be walking at the same time, with all children carrying flags bearing social justice messages, calling for a free Palestine with Palestinian refugee children in camps in Lebanon and Jordan calling for their right to return to their homeland.” said Noor Mahomed.

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