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Message at the opening of “Sands of Palestine” (Durban, 13-24 April)

Message at the opening of “Sands of Palestine” (Durban, 13-24 April)

Friday 15th April 2016
Zuleikha Mayat

Tonight I have the pleasure of seeing another play by Yusuf Haffejee, directed by Vivian Moodley. Haffejee’s maiden, part of the 150 year commemoration, “Bitter Sweet” depicted the struggles of Indentured Indians in South Africa, was nominated for the Mercury Theatre Award.

Sands of Palestine has now ventured into an international setting, but still faithfully keeps to the writers calling of giving a voice to the ordinary person.

We have many pressing concerns, both local and international, so we ask why Palestine again?

‘Sands of Palestine’ demonstrates some of the myriad of racist laws with jackboot enforcement guaranteed by the Western superpowers and their lackeys, which apply exclusively to Palestinian Christians and Muslims alike. Sadly even our Government, which leans on the right side, has trade links with Israel.

Imagine living your entire life not being able to move from home to work except at the sole behest of a recent immigrant youngster with a gun. Imagine you, a mother, on the way to the hospital giving birth to your stillborn child at a checkpoint because settlers, illegal under International Law, have a better right to the roads in your land. They   have their own apartheid roads and apartheid number plates.

Any Jew from South Africa can come and go from Palestine as and when he pleases, but not so a native Palestinian. Even a Muslim from South Africa can enjoy some degree of movement in Palestine especially if he subserviently carries a dompass from Ambassador Arthur Lenk. The South African Jewish Board of Deputies has a greater say in Palestine, than the Palestinians.

And this is just the West Bank. Gaza 42 by 8 kilometres is a prison from which nothing can come in or go out unless Israel and its quisling, Sisi of Egypt, permits.

Permanently Prohibited into Gaza is: plastic sheets more than 4mm thick. The partial list, regularly changes at its whim and fancy.

Baby milk was prohibited, baby wipes allowed – thank heaven for small mercies

Fresh meat is prohibited, but frozen meat permitted.

Biscuits, sweets and chocolates – prohibited. Pravin will be pleased.
Sugar is bad.

Fishing rods, potato chips, coriander, jam, vinegar, spices, jam, halva, nuts and dried fruit prohibited. These are deemed luxuries.

Is this just Israel having fun with Palestinians? No, Israel has calculated with scientific precision, the minimum number of calories required to keep Gaza residents from malnutrition. Is it Kafka ? No it is supported politically, economically and militarily by Nobel Laureate Obama.

Evil has taken place in many lands, but never in the history of this world has such unmasked evil been actively supported, aided and abetted by the world powers. Even peaceful protest like boycott, which brought down Apartheid is criminalized.

Archbishop Hanna of Jerusalem says “We Palestinian Christians and Muslims suffer equally from occupation”. Christian land is confiscated for settlements and the Apartheid wall, they experience restricted access to water and other basic services and denied jobs. In 1947, a year before the birth of Isreal, Bethlehem was 85% Christian. Today it is less than 20%. Jerusalem was 19% Christian. Now 2%. Ethnic cleansing.

Christians in West Bank and Gaza cannot enter Jerusalem without a permit to worship at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In and around Bethlehem there are 32 Israeli checkpoints, road blocks & gates that limit how Palestinians can move around the city.

The Church of the miracle of Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes was burnt by Israelis, its worshippers pelted with stones. The few Jews who are convicted are given leniency. Palestinian perpetrators are shot and homes demolished.

Palestine is quite unique, which is why it requires our continued support. Syria has diverted our focus. But within the next few years, due to the stolen water and bombing of water purification plants, Gaza will be without drinking water.

When I read the synopsis of the play we are about to see, it brought home the fact that this was not just a once a day occurrence, it carries on throughout the day, in their everyday lives fuelling anger and hate as the sick and the injured, the ones wishing to visit relatives or attend to business on the other side patiently waiting at numerous check points in all weathers for permission to cross over, with the ones brought up to hate and despise them in charge waiting to humiliating them.

Palestinian father suffering a lifetime experience of atrocities submits. He endures what life deals him with equanimity, his faith ever strong he patiently waits the day of liberation. The son resists. This tension between father and son perhaps alludes to the differences in approach by Fatah and Hamas.  Joshua brought up to hate, humiliate and kill Palestinians is as much a victim.

I salute Yusuf Haffajee and Vivian Moodley for bringing this cause célèbre so poignantly before us. I believe this play will reinvigorate all of us. The only realistic tool available to us is boycott and sanctions. Each of us has to play the part and give our committed support to BDS.

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