By Al Qalam Reporter
Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zwelivelile Mandela, who was a guest speaker at the hugely successful Palestine Festival in London last weekend, said South Africans who fought against apartheid were mainly inspired by the resilience and bravery of the Palestinian people.
Over15 000 people attended the festival – organized by Friends of Al Aqsa – which showcased exhibitions of Palestinian culture, food, heritage and art – and especially its struggles against Israeli subjugation.
Mandela, an ANC MP, told the crowd that Israel was surrounding Palestine with Jewish settlements, similar to the Bantustans that were created by the South African Government under apartheid.
He said resistance had brought about freedom.
“Comrades and friends; I am often asked what is so important to us as South Africans about the Palestinian struggle that Madiba declared during his visit to Gaza in 1995 ‘that our struggle is yet incomplete without the Freedom of the Palestinian people.’ What does this mean? In the darkest hours of our struggle when our leaders were incarcerated on Robben Island and other jails of Apartheid South Africa; whilst our cadres were driven into exile and our internal rebellion was being crushed; it was the images of the brave and courageous young people of Palestine armed with nothing but rocks and their bare hands that inspired us.
“When they themselves were under siege and attack it was the leadership of the Palestinian struggle that provided home, training and financial support to our struggle. Our freedom is inter-connected with that of the Palestinian people because ours is a relationship forged in the heat of struggle and they were the strongest advocates of our freedom in every global forum where they raised the flag of our just struggle alongside the struggle of the Palestinian people.
He also touched on Donald Trump’s Deal of the Century for Palestinians that claims to give them economic freedom.
“My brothers and sisters; we are very clear about why we call it the Hoax of the Century. There are indeed those who say we should wait and at least see what deal is put on the table. The reality stares us in the face; Trump is not a friend of the Palestinian people and he will never act in our best interest. He is not even a friend of America and does not act in its best interests. Since coming to power he has cut development aid to Palestinian refugees and literally severed the pipeline that provides hope and much needed medical care for children some as young as one or two year old. He has defied international law and disregarded the global outcry against his announcement of moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem.”
He said Palestinians and all peace loving should be able to “smell a rat” when fake plans was shamelessly being touted in the guise of “economic development”, but in reality meant further Palestinian subjugation.
Turning to the Palestine Expo, he said it plays a significant role in raising awareness of the realities of life in occupied Palestine. “It provides a valuable insight into Palestinian culture, political discourse and builds a platform where likeminded people can share a common platform to reflect on the continued occupation and belligerent expansion of illegal settlements, the plight of six million refugees in the Palestinian diaspora, the thousands of political prisoners languishing in apartheid Israeli jails including women and children, the imperialist attempt to annex the eternal capital Al Quds, and the daily humiliation and indignity meted out to Palestinians at border crossings and check points.”
Mandela urged BDS to continue strongly because “the occupation is real and the world must know the nature of the Israeli Apartheid state.”