|Denis Goldberg, Cape Town, 24 April 2017|
A young Palestinian man became the first victim of the open-ended hunger strike in the occupied West Bank on Monday. The 30-year-old, identified as Mazan al-Maghrebi, passed away at his home in the city of Ramallah.
Dennis Goldberg is a legend in his time. He was one of the defendants in the original Rivonia trial which saw Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment. Goldberg was also Jewish. He was an officer of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe which was founded in 1961. In 1963 he was arrested at the Rivonia headquarters of Ukkhonto we Sizwe and he was sentenced in 1964 at the end of the famous Rivonia Trial to four terms of life imprisonment. He was the only white member of Umkhonto we Sizwe to be arrested and sentenced in the Rivonia Trial to life imprisonment.
The hunger strike is the last weapon of the oppressed. All they have to offer is their bodies against the armed might of their oppressors. The Republican movement famously conducted a hunger strike in the early 1980’s against the British Conservative Government in support of their demand for political prisoner status, a demand they effectively won. During the course of the hunger strike, 10 people died including Bobby Sands, who was elected as a Sinn Fein MP to the House of Commons whilst a prisoner.
The Palestinian prisoners are demanding an improvement in the vicious and repressive conditions under which they are held. The reaction of Israeli Ministers such as Israel’s Transportation and Intelligence Minister, Israel Katz is that Palestinian prisoners should not be there because they should have been put to death. This is the reaction of fascists. It was of course the reaction of the Nazis to those who resisted their occupation so it should not be any surprise that this is where Zionism is going.
|Israel's fascist Transport Minister, Israel Katz, calls for the execution of Palestinian prisoners|
Israel’s grotesque racist murderer and Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is quoted as saying that ‘Israel should take the approach of Margaret Thatcher towards the IRA hunger strikers in 1981 and allow them to die..’. Nothing less is to be expected of a man who once expressed the desire that ‘prisoners should be drowned in the Dead Sea and he would provide the buses to take them there.’ #
Ha’aretz quoted Balad MKs Jamal Zahalka and Talab A-Sana and Abdelmalek Dahamsha (United Arab List) ‘"How can you suggest transferring thousands of Palestinian prisoners to the Dead Sea and drowning them there?"
Of course to someone like Lieberman, the idea of drowning thousands of Palestinians can only be a source of pleasure.
24 APRIL 2017
|Palestinian demonstrators in Nablus supporting the hunger strikers|
I call upon Jewish Israelis to support the call for justice for the Palestinian People.
Silence in the face of the Administrative Detention of over 500 Palestinians is to be complicit in that injustice. Administrative Detention means that prisoners have not been charged or tried in the courts. Administrative Detention means that officials, presumably in a “security cluster”, have decided that these prisoners are a threat to the security of the Israeli state. Administrative Detention means that the prisoners are held, possibly, on the basis of rumour or malicious gossip.
Administrative Detention is a violation of the norms of a democratic criminal justice system.
Israel shows, by the continued use of Administrative Detention over many decades, that it is not a democratic state but an authoritarian dictatorship. Israel uses Administrative Detention only against Palestinians within Israel and in the Occupied Territories. Many Palestinians who are being detained are Israeli citizens.
|Palestinian youth demonstrate in support of the hunger strikers|
Israel does not use Administrative Detention against Jewish Israelis or Jews. Israel shows once again that it is an Apartheid State; using laws and regulations in a racist oppressive manner against Palestinians.
We South Africans know from our apartheid past how laws and regulations such as Administrative Detention are used to bolster a racist, apartheid system. Over the past 50 years more than eight hundred thousand(!), I repeat: eight hundred thousand, Palestinians have been imprisoned by the Israeli State under many explicitly racist laws and administrative regulations under illegal military occupation of Palestine.
I am disappointed that too many Jewish Israelis are silent in the face of Israeli state racism and the denial of justice. Silence in the face of injustice such as Administrative Detention makes people complicit in that injustice. I hear that Israel has announced new prison regulations making it an offence for prisoners to go on hunger strike. Apartheid South Africa made protest against racist laws an offence punishable by very heavy penalties. That did not stop the struggle to end apartheid. It did cause unnecessary suffering among the oppressed and the oppressor by prolonging the struggle for justice and Freedom from racial oppression.
We know that many Palestinians are opposed to the Israeli State’s system of racial differentiation of the rights of people by race and religion. The legal and administrative discrimination against the Palestinian people through separate laws and regulations constitutes the internationally recognized Apartheid crime against humanity. We condemn the continued abuse of the Universal Human Rights of the Palestinian people.
The immediate and long-term answer to the needs for peace and stability throughout Palestine and the Israeli state is not more Administrative Detention, nor imprisonment of those who demand justice. The answer is not more illegal detention without trial. The answer has to be a social and economic system under the rule of law that develops an inclusive and democratic society.
Therefore we believe that the hunger strike by political prisoners is justified and we say: End Administrative detention NOW! Release all political prisoners NOW!
Denis Goldberg is an anti-apartheid struggle stalwart and Rivonia Trialist. Goldberg, of Jewish origin, was sentenced in 1964 to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial alongside struggle heroes including as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada and others. Goldberg served 22 years in prison before being released in 1985.