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COSATU Statement on Court Trial for Its Support for Palestinian Cause | Southern African Trade Union Co-ordination Council
Southern Africa Trade Union Co-ordination Council

COSATU Statement on Court Trial for Its Support for Palestinian Cause
Friday, February 17th, 2017

COSATU on trial for its support for the Palestinian people

09 February 2017

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is effectively on trial for its international solidarity and specifically its support for the Palestinian people.

In 2009 Israel attacked the Palestinian Gaza Strip killing over 1400 people including more than 300 children. Israel was also accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. During the attacks COSATU joined civil society as well as members of various faiths including progressive members of our Jewish community in protesting against those barbaric attacks. One of the many protests was held at the head office of the SA Zionist Federation – the SA Zionist Federation together with other members of the Israeli lobby had, at the time, publicly defended the Israeli attacks on the Gaza strip and the Israeli massacre against Palestinians.

Linked to the global protests against the Israeli attacks against Palestinians, COSATU dockworkers belonging to SATAWU in Durban had refused to offload cargo from an Israeli ship. COSATU was invited to provide a lecture at Wits University on this heroic act of workers and what it means for the global struggle against Apartheid, oppression and human rights which was disrupted by Israeli supporters with threats and abuse.

Since then, because of its practical support of the Palestinian people, COSATU has been a victim of a sustained attacks by the Israeli lobby, particularly, the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD). At the time, COSATU received abusive mails, emails, phone calls and other threats from Israeli supporters, two such messages directed at COSATU from that time are reproduced here:

“Even when all the monkeys in Cosatu have died of aids (even those who were cured by raping babies), I still won’t return [to SA]. Jews should be in Israel supporting Israel – Friends – make Aliya! Do it!”

“Let us bombard the COSATU offices with phone calls to let them know our anger. It is hardr [sic] to ignore phone calls than e mails. Maybe we should start a policy that Israel-loyal Jews refuse to employ COSATU members in retaliation for COSATU’s evil actions.”

Now, with pressure from the Israeli lobby, COSATU and its International Secretary have been taken to court being falsely accused of anti-Semitism and hate speech, we believe, as a means to silence the federation and all supporters of freedom for the Palestinian people.

Our solidarity with the Palestinian people and indeed with all oppressed peoples is not an individual position but an organizational position. In fact, our internationalism is built into our movement and stretches across the ANC, SACP and COSATU alliance and all our MDM components. We view the attacks by the Israeli lobby as an attack on the movement as a whole and will defend our right to be critical of Israel’s policies against the Palestinian people.

Following a complaint by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies to the SA Human Rights Commission, a finding was made but COSATU objected both on content and process. In particular COSATU highlighted that the SAHRC, in its hastiness to produce a finding, did not adhere to the “Determination of the procedure contemplated in section 9(6) of the South African Human Rights Commission Act. No 54 of 1994”

We are even more worried now that its seems that the SAHRC has essentially out-sourced its work to the SA Jewish Board of Deputies who in fact has gone on record as saying that they are “assisting the SAHRC’s counsel in preparing their case by providing the necessary information and expert witness testimony.” In fact, in today’s court proceedings, the pro-Israeli expert witness who was brought in from the UK claimed that he did not know who paid for his plane ticket to come to Johannesburg – we wonder if he was paid for by the Israeli lobby and the SA JBD?

The case against COSATU is currently being heard at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. Hearings will end on Tuesday the 14th of February. Members of the public are welcome to attend and to send messages of support to COSATU.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339

Mobile: 060 975 6794