Famed, and to some infamous, Palestinian liberation activist Leila Khaled on Friday landed in Johannesburg for a week of engagements in South Africa. Invited by the South African Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Khaled will visit cities countrywide to rally for solidarity with Palestine and raise funds for the South African pro-Palestinian organisation.
In an exclusive interview from her home in Amman in Jordan ahead of her visit on Thursday, Khaled said the BDS model of resistance against Israeli occupation in Palestine is an effective means to bring about Palestinian autonomy.
“The only other time where BDS was experienced and participated in across the world, except for the United States and Israel, was when it was enacted to isolate Apartheid South Africa. And this action can be enforced again, when there is occupation, when there is a form of Apartheid it should be isolated from the rest of the world,” she told VOC’s Drivetime.
Khaled said Israel can be described as an Apartheid state and should be treated as such. But the former plane hijacker believes the majority of people around the world are not aware of the every-day reality Palestinians face under Israeli occupation.
“Israel’s laws discriminate against the Arab people; and they are the owners, the original inhabitants of the land. Some people are not even allowed to visit their own villages because it was confiscated or occupied by the Israeli forces.”
Despite this, Khaled said in her travels she has found an awareness building around the Palestinian issue. Many people she encounters, she says, do not need as much explanation of the Israeli occupation as was the case in previous years.
“We’re now observing more support for the Palestinian struggle, whether it is in the media, among the people or organizations forming to launch campaigns to free Palestinian prisoners, to enact BDS or just spreading awareness. It’s spread to Europe and the United States as well,” she said.
The media attention the atrocities that take place in Palestine has been a direct cause for the amount of support Palestinian liberation has received in recent times, Khaled opines. She believes the blatant manner in which the Israeli government acts out its plans goes against the moral grain of a large amount of people who observe them.
“Now [these atrocities] are widespread; that is why we are gaining more and more solidarity. This was especially after their last excursion against Gaza, people who saw [news coverage on] it could not find reasons for why Israel was attacking Gaza in such a manner.”
Leila Khaled will travel through South Africa and meet with delegates from various organizations sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, including the BDS SA, and the Minister of International Relations and Co-Operation Malusi Gigaba. VOC (Andriques Che Petersen)