By: Mairead Maguire
Members of a South African ecumenical delegation that recently visited the occupied Palestinian territory said they were “traumatized” by what they saw. They “did not expect the extent to which Israel violates international law to oppress the Palestinian people,” they said, adding that “it felt like walking into another apartheid ambush … the multiple Israeli house demolitions, the discriminatory Israeli legal system, the daily intimidation of Palestinians by the Israeli Defense Forces, the Israeli Apartheid Wall and its associated regime of restrictions on movement and access for Palestinians, the imprisonment of a large percentage of Palestinians (including children), the ongoing confiscation of Palestinian water and land, the closure of previously bustling Palestinian streets and businesses.”
Testimonies like this by human rights organizations and people of conscience are increasingly being heard across the world, changing hearts and minds and convincing lovers of peace and justice to support pressure campaigns against Israel’s occupation and other violations of human rights, and against all corporations that maintain that oppressive system to attain a real, sustainable peace for all the people in this troubled region, without discrimination.
The Palestinians are asking the world to disengage from Israel’s occupation, a strategy that helped us to end apartheid in South Africa. I, and many people like me, believe that maximum pressure must be put on Israel to abide by international law. This should be done on the basis of “equality and sharing, not on superiority, negation of the other or aggression, using the pretext of fear and security” as stated in the Palestinian Kairos document, A Moment of Truth.
I salute Stanford University students who are striving to end their own university’s complicity in Israel’s human rights violations through divesting from companies that are deeply involved in those violations. I stand with you and believe we shall overcome all injustice and all inequality, as we have done before.
2nd March, 2013
Mairead Maguire was awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her extraordinary actions to help end the deep ethnic/political conflict in her native Northern Ireland.