Join the #WetsuwetenResistance Pipeline Fight

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project supports the efforts of the Wet’suwet’en nation to exercise their rights as a sovereign nation to manage and protect their lands and waters. In particular, they have the right to disallow construction of the proposed TC Energy Coastal GasLink pipeline.

As advocates for human rights in Palestine, we see the struggle of the Wet’suwet’en nation as another face of the same colonial theft of land that has caused the Palestinian people to be deprived of basic human rights in their own country. We are especially appalled by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s repeated use of force against the Wer’suwet’en people, including the forced removal of Indigenous people from their land at gunpoint and the cruel and violent treatment of prisoners.

We call on the government of Canada to stop this violence against the Wet’suwet’en nation and to respect their sovereignty.

For the third time in three years, the Wet’suwet’en have faced militarized raids on our ancestral territory. One month ago today, the RCMP violently raided unceded Gidimt’en territory (Nov 18-19, 2021), removing Indigenous people from their land at gunpoint on behalf of TC Energy’s proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline.​​ The Wet’suwet’en enforced our standing eviction of CGL by closing roads into the territory November 14-17. Following the raids, arrestees received cruel and violent treatment in prison. The conditions set forth by the court are human rights violations to Indigenous peoples.

We call on all nations, allies, accomplices, and supporters everywhere to RISE UP in solidarity. We must employ all the collective strength in our hearts and minds to stop the machine of global empire that is destroying us. The time on the world clock is NOW to unify around our common goal as beings on this planet, to honor Indigenous sovereignty and put an end to end of history! We are in this fight for the long haul and we will not back down. This pipeline will never be built. Join the WET’SUWET’EN RESISTANCE!

Take Action:
🔥 Come to Camp
🔥 Issue a solidarity statement from your organization or group. Email to:
🔥 Pressure the government, banks, and investors
🔥 Donate.
🔥 Spread the word.

More information and developing stories:
Instagram: @yintah_access
Twitter: @Gidimten
Facebook: Gidimt’en Checkpoint
Youtube: Gidimten Access Point
TikTok: GidimtenCheckpoint

#WetsuwetenResistance #DivestCGL
#ShutDownCanada #WetsuwetenStrong #AllOutForWedzinKwa #ExpectUs
#indigenous #landback #decolonize #mmiw #mmiwg #waterprotectors #landdefenders #defundcgl #climateaction #wetsuweten #wetsuwetensolidarity #sovereignty #tierra #terre #resistance

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.”

Referred to as “South Africa’s Martin Luther King,” who once stated that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Desmond Tutu was a true representation of that message, as he stood for justice everywhere. We send our deepest condolences to his family, to the people of South Africa, and to all the free people of the world who are struggling against oppression, racism, and bigotry.

His legacy will live on…

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 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.”

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.  

“It was not our wisdom and strength as South Africans that ultimately delivered us from apartheid – it was the support we had from the international community that backed us up,” says Duduzile Mahlangu-Masango, a board member of Africa4Palestine, formerly known as the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, which advocates in support of Palestinian rights in South Africa. “We learned then that when you speak the big language of politics, you don’t bring everyone along. But when you talk about things ordinary people care about, you bring the issue closer to them.”

For those like Ms. Mahlangu-Masango, that kind of activism has a long history. For decades, boycotts and cultural isolation were a major weapon in the war against apartheid. 

In the 1960s and ‘70s, activists fought to have South Africa barred from major sporting events like the Olympics and World Cup, and advocated for Europeans and Americans to stop buying South African fruit and cigarettes. The liberation movement asked international musicians to boycott South Africa.

In 1976, after a massacre of schoolchildren in Soweto, near Johannesburg, turned the world’s attention to South Africa’s atrocities, nine countries announced they would boycott the Miss World pageant for allowing South Africa to participate. A second boycott followed the next year, forcing the organizers to ban South Africa. 

“These calls to isolate South Africa culturally were very important” because they reinforced the country’s exclusion from the global community, says Ottilia Maunganidze, head of special projects at the Institute for Security Studies, a South African think tank.

Fast forward 45 years and activists are using the same arsenal of tools to try to isolate Israel, she says.

The calls for Ms. Mswane to boycott Miss Universe started almost as soon as the crown was placed on her head in mid-October. Activists staged a protest at the Miss South Africa offices in Johannesburg, and the hashtag #NotMyMissSA began trending on social media. Its supporters, including Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela, called on the beauty queen to draw parallels between Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands and the dispossession and violence committed against Black South Africans under apartheid.

Zwelivelile Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s eldest grandson, speaks during a protest calling for Lalela Mswane to withdraw from the Miss Universe pageant, outside the Miss South Africa headquarters in Johannesburg, Nov. 19, 2021. Many South Africans draw parallels between their own history of apartheid and Israeli treatment of Palestinians. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)

“We must persist in isolating Apartheid Israel in the same way that we isolated Apartheid South Africa,” wrote Mr. Mandela on Instagram. 

For many former anti-apartheid activists, including those now in government here, the question of Israel and Palestine is a particularly evocative one because it calls up vivid memories of their own history.

“The first time I set foot in Palestine, it was like setting foot into the world I grew up in,” says Ms. Mahlangu-Masango, who was raised during the dying years of apartheid in the 1970s and ‘80s. “I really cannot understand a South African who chooses to forget the history of where we come from.”

For supporters of Ms. Mswane, however, the anger at her misses the mark.

“Lalela will be a role model to young women – not just across the country, but across the African continent,” wrote Stephanie Weil, CEO of the Miss South Africa organization, in a statement on Instagram. “Anyone who wants to rob Lalela of her moment in the spotlight is unkind and short-sighted.” Ms. Mswane herself has not spoken publicly about the controversy over her competing. 

Meanwhile, former Greek delegate Rafaela Plastira announced on social media in November that she would boycott the competition in support of Palestinians. (Several days later, the organization in charge of Miss Greece distanced themselves from Ms. Plastira and stated that she was not their delegate.) 

“Humanity ABOVE beauty pageants!” she wrote in an Instagram post. Greece is sending Sofia Arapogianni to Israel as the country’s delegate.

“There have been arguments that you shouldn’t politicize a beauty pageant,” says Ms. Maunganidze of the Institute for Security Studies. “But the very act of hosting it in Israel is an act of politicization. For many people, it legitimizes what Israel is doing in Palestine. Or at the very least, it says, let life go on.”

An earlier version of this story omitted to mention controversy that has emerged about the candidacy of Greek beauty queen Rafaela Plastira.