Anti-apartheid hero: from South Africa to Palestine

American Muslims for Palestine honors the legacy of a moral giant, an icon of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He left a legacy of unwavering commitment to justice for oppressed people everywhere. From his efforts to calm the political violence in Kenya in 2007, to characterizing the Iraq war as “immoral,” to his vehement opposition of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, to his ironclad support for the global Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, he has showcased his consistent advocacy for the oppressed and downtrodden.

Desmond Tutu understood the parallels of what he personally experienced under South African apartheid, and what he observed firsthand in Palestine. An outspoken defender of Palestinian rights, he issued a statement in 2014 in support of the Palestinian struggle against Israel’s Apartheid regime, part of which read:

“In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime. My conscience compels me to stand with the Palestinians as they seek to use the same tactics of non-violence to further their efforts to end the oppression associated with the Israeli Occupation.”

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Human rights defenders targeted by Israel launch joint website

Online Hub Provides Information and Calls to Action Aimed at Reversing Ban on Six Palestinian NGOs

14 December 2021, RamallahThe Palestinian civil society organizations (CSOs) targeted by the Israeli government alongside partners have today launched a new website www.PalCivilSociety.com as part of their #StandWithThe6 campaign. This follows Israel’s escalation of its systemic efforts to shrink civic space, defund, criminalize human rights defenders (HRDs) and civil society.

This culminated in Israeli Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz outlawing the six organizations on 19 October 2021 under Israel’s domestic Anti-Terrorism Law (2016), and as “unlawful organizations” on 3 November 2021, by the Israeli Military Commander in the West Bank. These baseless accusations aim to effectively outcast and discredit the work of leading Palestinian CSOs, placing them and their supporters at imminent risk of reprisals, including cutting off funding, office closure, and arrest of staff members. 

In response to the designation, the international community including world leaders, UN representatives, celebrities, funders and international NGOs have condemned the designation as a blatant threat to human rights. However, Israel continues to firmly maintain its unlawful designation, and by not calling for an immediate reversal of this policy, governments are allowing this dangerous attack to go unchallenged, putting all HRDs at risk, in Palestine and globally.

The website consolidates the efforts of the six Palestinian CSOs and partners, and provides resources for supporters outlining the full context of Israel’s ongoing harrasment campaigns to silence and diminish Palestinian civil society overall. The website will be a central space where supporters can mobilize in solidarity with civil society, starting by sending emails to US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, and Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy asking them to take decisive action to force Israel to reverse the unlawful designation.

As jointly stated by the six organizations, “this designation is only the latest of a series of attacks against us and certainly won’t be the last. This continued assault on Palestinian human rights defenders is also accompanied by systematic use of cybersurveillance technology to hack our phones and surveil us. It’s clear that Israel’s intention is to silence and harrass Palestinian human rights defenders who criticize Israel’s apartheid and settler-colonial regime and call for holding Israeli authorities accountable for their human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Through this common digital space we invite all supporters of human rights and freedom around the world, to take action and show solidarity with Palestinian civil society.”

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Beauty pageant boycott

Many South Africans see a boycott of the Miss Universe pageant in Israel as a chance to stand up for Palestinians and against injustice


Lalela Mswane walks across the stage during the Miss South Africa beauty pageant in Cape Town, South Africa on Oct. 16, 2021. AP

Ryan Lenora Brown, Christian Science Monitor, December 9, 2021

JOHANNESBURG — When Lalela Mswane glided across a Cape Town stage in a red satin ball gown at the finals of the Miss South Africa pageant in October, she moved with the poise of someone who commanded her country’s attention. 

But in the days after the 24-year-old law student and model was crowned, that gaze took on a sharp edge.

Pro-Palestine activists began demanding she boycott the Dec. 12 Miss Universe pageant because it will be held in Israel. In mid-November, the South African government withdrew its support for Ms. Mswane’s entry, so she will compete without her country’s backing.

“The atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians are well documented and Government, as the legitimate representative of the people of South Africa, cannot in good conscience associate itself with such,” wrote the Department of Sports, Arts, and Culture in a statement. The pageant organizers, meanwhile, soldiered on, stating that Ms. Mswane “would not be bullied” into boycotting the pageant. (The Miss South Africa organization and Ms. Mswane did not respond to requests for comments for this story.)

The Miss Universe competition may seem an unusual place for a government to stake a major geopolitical stand. But in South Africa, activists say the anti-apartheid movement taught them that the struggle against injustice takes place everywhere, from parliamentary debates and mass marches to boycotts of sports games, grapefruits, and yes, even the stage of a beauty pageant.  

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New Film on Hebron at the New York Times

Mission: Hebron by Israeli filmmaker Rona Segal was published recently in the opinion section of the New York Times website, and can be watched there (with a subscription) or on YouTube.

Mission: Hebron is a short documentary based on interviews conducted by the director with Breaking the Silence testifiers about their service in Hebron. Describing a horrifying yet mundane routine of manning checkpoints, invading homes, nighttime arrests, and violently dispersing protests, they paint a picture of what serving in the second largest Palestinian city in the occupied territories requires, the atmosphere in the city, their interaction with the local population, both Palestinians and settlers, and how they felt about it all.

Screened around the world at international film festivals, the film won the Shagrir Prize at last year’s Jerusalem Film Festival and is now long-listed for the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary.

Settler attacks on Palestinians more than double in two years

Israeli authorities have created a “permissive atmosphere” allowing settlers to “let off steam”


Hebrew graffiti in the village of Deir Estya, which translates as ‘village of terrorists’, in an apparent ‘price tag’ attack by Jewish settlers, 18 June 2019 (AFP)

Middle East Eye, 4 October 2021

Israeli settler attacks on Palestinian villages and properties in the occupied West Bank have more than doubled in the first half of 2021, compared with the same statistics over the past two years, Haaretz reported on Sunday.

The spike may be linked to a change in tactics from authorities following the death of teenage settler Ahuvia Sandak, who died in a car crash fleeing Israeli police, and the killing of 52-year-old mother Esther Horgan by Palestinians in December 2020.

To avoid confrontation, Israeli authorities created what officials described as a “permissive atmosphere”, including allowing settlers to “let off steam”, according to the Israeli newspaper.

In 2019, 363 settler attacks were reported, while in 2020, that number was 507.



Masked settler mob attacks Hebron villages
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November 28, 2021
Defund Racism Webinar: A Palestinian Call for Solidarity

12 Noon Central Time

Join Christian Peacemaker Teams-Palestine and the Good Shepherd Collective for a conversation on international structures and funding sources that perpetuate racism and the Israeli Occupation in Palestine.

Featuring Bana Abu Zuluf from the Good Shepherd Collective and Hisham Sharabati & Ahmad Abu Monshar, human rights activists from Hebron.

December 8, 2021
“Reality Under Apartheid” Virtual Tour

10 am Central Time

If Not Now and the Palestine Institute of Public Diplomacy (PIPD) present an hour long virtual tour of Palestinian neighborhoods and cities to demonstrate how Apartheid as practiced by Israel — and supported by US funding — is not some abstract concept, but a lived reality for millions of Palestinians every day.