BY NORM DIXON
Thousands of South Africans protested in support of the Palestinian people in Durban on August 19. The rally packed the City Hall. Organised by the Palestine Support Committee and the Durban Social Forum, it called on the African National Congress government to initiate a "anti-apartheid campaign" against Israel.
The rally adopted a declaration that called on the South African government to use its influence in the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth, the Organisation of African Unity and the United Nations to "fully isolate" Israel. The declaration further demanded that the South African government immediately cease arms trading with Israel.
Palestinian ambassador Salman El-Herfi told the meeting that his country more than ever needed the support of the South African people. "Your struggle was a lighthouse for us. Our people are under siege, our people are being bombarded, our people are under occupation. We were against the Bantustan government in South Africa and we are against the Bantustan government in Israel."
Referring to the US government's threat to boycott the UN World Conference Against Racism if the issue of Zionism remains on the agenda, El-Herfi declared: "Let them go to hell... they cannot remove Zionism from the minds of the people or that it has a racist meaning and that Israel is an apartheid state."
The Durban Social Forum's Ashwin Desai called on the participants "to begin the struggle to change the attitude of our own government. Join in a sustained militant struggle to end the illegitimate regime in Israel". The crowd chanted, "Zionism is equal to racism" in response.