Open Shuhada Street (OSS)
|In their own words||“a registered non-profit organisation that works towards building solidarity campaigns with the Palestinian people by using advocacy, lobbying, and public education and mobilisation.”|
- Established “by activists Doron Isaacs, Nathan Geffen and later Zackie Achmat who had all just visited the West Bank as part of a South African delegation.” According to the group’s website, “Their time in Hebron saw them witness some of the most inhumane aspects of Israel’s Occupation including the closure of Shuhada Street to Palestinians … Shuhada Street has therefore become representative of some of Israel’s most appalling human rights violations.”
- According to OSS, its “campaigns serve to shed light on the abuses of Palestinian human rights particularly those in the occupied West Bank” and focus “on ending the Occupation which continues to dehumanise millions of Palestinians every day.”
- Promotes anti-Israel BDS campaigns, as well as other highly politicized activities aimed at demonizing and delegitimizing Israel in the international arena.
- In 2014, OSS co-sponsored Israeli Apartheid Week in South Africa.
- In May 2013, lobbied South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies “to require traders in South Africa not to incorrectly label products that originate from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) as products of Israel.”
- Hosted two events in 2013 featuring Yehuda Shaul of Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence. Khulekani Chiya of BDS South Africa welcomed Shaul to South Africa, saying “Shaul and Breaking the Silence remind us of the brave white anti-apartheid activists who in the 1980s broke rank, joined, for example, the ‘End Conscription Campaign’ and refused to serve in Apartheid’s South African Defence Forces (SADF). Shaul and Breaking the Silence also remind us that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), like Apartheid’s South African Defence Forces (SADF), serve no ‘defence’ purpose, only the purpose of maintaining an unjust Israeli regime and its apartheid policies against the indigenous Palestinians. The testimonies from Breaking the Silence further give reason why we should support the indigenous Palestinian people together with their progressive Israeli allies in boycotting Israel until Israel abides to international law, respects human rights and engages in fair negotiations for a just peace similar to what occurred in South Africa.”
- Breaking the Silence is highly active in the international demonization and delegitimization campaign against Israel, promoting “war crimes” charges based on anonymous and unverifiable hearsay “testimonies” of low-level soldiers who have served in the West Bank and Gaza. Despite its claims to address Israeli society, BtS’ lobbying and media advocacy campaigns focus primarily on international audiences.
- According to a 2015 document titled “South African Solidarity with Palestinians: Motivations, Strategies, and Impact,” “OSS campaigns adopt the strategies used to end South African apartheid.”
- In October 2014, OSS, together with the Heinrich Boell Foundation (Germany), organized a “fact-finding mission,” which “met Israeli and Palestinian civil society organizations, activists, politicians and local people to discuss the different dimensions of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.” Coordinator of OSS Bruce Baigrie signed and endorsed a November 2014 statement titled, “Occupation must be made economically, politically and morally costly for Israel,” which included participants’ observations following the mission. The document accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” imposing “draconian military law” on the Palestinian population and calls on the international community to support the “international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel until international law is observed.”
- Supported the campaign to free Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian political prisoners. A document posted on its Facebook page that promoted the campaign accused Israel of “colonial rule, oppression, apartheid and segregation.”
- Partners include a number of organizations that similarly promote BDS campaigns against Israel, including Kairos South Africa, South African Jews for a Free Palestine, Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, the Social Justice Coalition, and others.
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