South America: Israel’s massacre in Gaza denounced, support for BDS grows

Protesters hold up a banner that reads 'the bullets that kill Palestinians repress Argentinians', in Buenos Aires on May 15.

Voices from across South America have denounced Israel’s massacre of more than 50 Palestinians on May 14 and its ongoing repression of protesters participating in the Great March of Return that began in Gaza on March 30.

They have also condemned the United States’ decision to move its Embassy to Jerusalem and pledged support to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli apartheid.

Bolivia's President Evo Morales “strongly condemned” the brutal Israeli crackdown on Gaza protesters, tweeting on May 15: "Bolivia condemns the genocidal reaction of the Israeli army that slaughters Palestinian brothers in cold blood. More than 50 dead, 2000 injured in protest against arbitrary transfer of US Embassy to Jerusalem".

He added: “Bolivia rejects and strongly condemns the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Again, the US violates international law and covers the crimes of the state of Israel. #PalestinaLibre”.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro also condemned the killings, tweeting that same day: “Today we are all Palestine. Their dead, injured and hopes are ours. We condemn atrocity and measures taken by US and Israel. Long live Palestine! Long live a free and independent Palestine!”

In an official statement issued on May 15, Venezuela’s foreign ministry reiterated the nation’s “ongoing support for the just cause of the Palestinian people and their right to return to the lands that have historically belonged to them”.

It also noted Venezuela’s “disapproval of the ongoing actions taken by the US government with the Israeli occupying force. These measures are illegal, contrary to international law, and run contrary to all international resolutions regarding this conflict, thus undermining the efforts to find a peaceful and just solution for the return of the heroic Palestinian people to their land.”

Both countries severed diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009 during the Gaza War that left more than 1000 Palestinians dead.

Solidarity has not been limited to governments and heads of state.

Protestors took to the streets of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela on May 15 in solidarity with the Palestinian people, while students occupied the main administration building at Chile’s largest public university, Universidad de Chile, that day.

Students from the Department of Philosophy and Humanities at Universidad de Chile had voted the previous day to endorse the BDS movement and to call on the university to sever ties with the University of Tel Aviv and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

BDS Chile notes that these two universities are built on former Palestinian land and are linked to the development of military technology that enables the systematic oppression of Palestinians and Israelis who oppose Israel’s military occupation, TeleSUR English reported on May 15.

Students from the departments of Medicine, Social Sciences and Law had previously voted in support of BDS and in favour of a university “free of Israeli apartheid.”

In April, more than 500 Latin American artists signed a statement publicly endorsing the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel in which they pledged to “reject any invitation to perform in Israel or at any event financed by this government that leads to the ‘normalisation’ of apartheid, that is, where the regime of segregation maintained by the state of Israel against the Palestinian people is not denounced.”

Among the signatories are poets, painters, rappers, theatre directors, filmmakers, actors, writers, and musicians from 17 Latin American countries.

Meanwhile the campaign to get the Argentine national football (soccer) team to withdraw from its June 9 pre-World Cup friendly match against Israel continues to grow, inside the country and internationally.

BDSMovement.net wrote on May 15: “The scheduled match will be part of Israel’s 70th anniversary ‘celebrations’ and is taking place while Israel implements a criminal shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy against peaceful Palestinian protesters in Gaza. This makes the ‘friendly’ a whitewash of Israel's crimes and therefore extremely unfriendly to human rights!...

“The Israeli government has agreed to pay three million dollars to host the match. This is part of its ‘sports-washing’ propaganda strategy, which exploits sporting events to hide its systemic human rights abuses against Palestinians.

Urging supporters of Palestinian human rights to support its #NotFriendly campaign, BDSMovement.net added: “Argentina and Lionel Messi are adored by fans around the world, including in Palestine and the Arab region, and the calls from BDS Argentina to cancel the match have had huge popular support.”

[Sign the petition Argentina: Don't team up with Israeli apartheid at bdsmovement.net/nothingfriendly.]

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