It’s now over a month for the reason that assaults in Israel that unleashed a horrible spiral of violence through which civilians have been the largest casualties.
In response to authorities, greater than 1 200 folks have been killed within the assault by Hamas on Israel on 7 October, and greater than 11 000 Palestinians have been killed so far in Gaza because of Israeli Defence Drive bombardments since then. Greater than 60% of the folks killed in Gaza are reported to be ladies and youngsters.
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Because the bombardment of Gaza continues, there have been pro-Palestinian demonstrations all over the world, in addition to these expressing solidarity with Israel. There have been quite a few such occasions in our personal nation, convened by civil society organisations, political events and non secular groupings.
What is going on in Israel, Gaza, and the West Financial institution provokes sturdy feelings.
For some, the homicide of Israelis and the kidnapping of hostages on 7 October has additional hardened the sentiment that Israel has the proper to make use of no matter means at its disposal to defend itself. On the identical time, others view the collective punishment of the folks of Gaza by the Israeli authorities as a struggle crime.
The battle between Israel and Palestine has lengthy been a polarising battle that has deepened divisions in societies and communities means past the Center East.
But regardless of how sturdy our views on this matter are, we should guard in opposition to this battle turning us in opposition to one another as South Africans.
Respecting everybody’s rights
Final week, police needed to intervene in a confrontation between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian supporters at an indication in Cape City. Whereas this incident is troubling and unacceptable, we should commend all these South Africans who’ve participated in orderly and peaceable demonstrations in a number of components of our nation.
Our Structure protects everybody’s proper to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of affiliation, and to show. It additionally requires that each one demonstrations be peaceable and that freedom of expression doesn’t lengthen to the advocacy of hatred based mostly on race, ethnicity, gender or faith that constitutes incitement to trigger hurt.
There is no such thing as a place in South Africa for violence or threats of violence in opposition to those that maintain opposite views. Neither is there anyplace for any type of prejudice, racism or chauvinism.
As emotive because the Israel-Palestine concern could also be for a lot of of our residents, significantly given our personal historical past of discrimination and oppression, we should not let it deepen divisions between us.
We’re a society that prides itself on its tolerance and respect.
Successive democratic administrations have upheld the constitutional rights of all people and teams on this nation. We have now enforced these rights by way of our courts, together with the Equality Courtroom, and thru establishments just like the South African Human Rights Fee, the Fee for the Promotion and Safety of the Rights of Cultural, Non secular and Linguistic Communities, and others.
No place for anti-Semitism or different prejudices
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It was disappointing, subsequently, to learn an article in a number one Israeli newspaper by a consultant of an area Jewish organisation suggesting that our authorities is ‘encouraging pogroms’ in opposition to the South African Jewish neighborhood.
This has by no means occurred within the historical past of democratic South Africa, nor will it ever be allowed to occur.
As a authorities and as a folks, we stand agency in our name for justice for the oppressed Palestinian folks, for his or her rights and aspirations to be fulfilled, for the instant cessation of hostilities, and for there to be accountability for the deplorable killings of civilians on this current battle. We keep that peace is not going to be attainable till Palestinians are free.
But, help for the Palestinian wrestle can’t be equated with anti-Semitism.
There is no such thing as a place in our society for anti-Semitism, simply as there isn’t a place in our nation for prejudice directed in opposition to any particular person or neighborhood based mostly on race, faith, perception, political view, or sexual orientation.
In a free and democratic society reminiscent of ours, the place divergent views are revered and guarded by legislation, we are going to proceed to uphold everybody’s proper to advocate and show peacefully, be they pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian.
As a folks with our personal painful historical past of discrimination, racism and prejudice, allow us to keep in mind our private obligation to be tolerant and respectful of others.
Allow us to promote dialogue and significant engagement in order that, as South Africans, we may match collectively to help the realisation of a simply, peaceable and safe future for the folks of each Palestine and Israel.
Above all, let our painful historical past be a reminder of the heavy value of a divided nation that has turned in opposition to itself. On the subject of freedom, equality and justice, we should be at one.