young Palestinian man became the first victim of the open-ended hunger
strike in the occupied West Bank on Monday. The 30-year-old, identified
as Mazan al-Maghrebi, passed away at his home in the city of Ramallah.
Dennis Goldberg is a legend in his time. He was one of the defendants in the original
Rivonia trial which saw Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment. Goldberg was also Jewish. He was an officer of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto
we Sizwe which was founded in 1961. In 1963 he was arrested at the Rivonia
headquarters of Ukkhonto we Sizwe and he was sentenced in 1964 at the end of
the famous Rivonia Trial to four terms of life imprisonment. He
was the only white member of Umkhonto we Sizwe to be arrested and sentenced in
the Rivonia Trial to life imprisonment.
hunger strike is the last weapon of the oppressed. All they have to offer is their bodies
against the armed might of their oppressors.
The Republican movement famously conducted a hunger strike in the early
1980’s against the British Conservative Government in support of their demand
for political prisoner status, a demand they effectively won. During the course of the hunger strike, 10
people died including Bobby Sands, who was elected as a Sinn Fein MP to the House
of Commons whilst a prisoner.
Palestinian prisoners are demanding an improvement in the vicious and
repressive conditions under which they are held. The reaction of Israeli Ministers such as Israel’s
Transportation and Intelligence Minister, Israel Katz is that Palestinian prisoners
should not be there because they should have been put to death. This is the reaction of fascists. It was of course the reaction of the Nazis to
those who resisted their occupation so it should not be any surprise that this
is where Zionism is going.
Israel’s fascist Transport Minister, Israel Katz, calls for the execution of Palestinian prisoners
grotesque racist murderer and Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is quoted
as saying that ‘Israel should take the approach of Margaret Thatcher towards
the IRA hunger strikers in 1981 and allow them to die..’. Nothing less is to be expected of a man who
once expressed the desire that ‘prisoners
should be drowned in the Dead Sea and he would provide the buses to take them
Balad MKs Jamal Zahalka and Talab A-Sana and Abdelmalek Dahamsha (United Arab
List) ‘”How can you suggest
transferring thousands of Palestinian prisoners to the Dead Sea and drowning
Of course to someone like Lieberman, the idea of
drowning thousands of Palestinians can only be a source of pleasure.
Palestinian demonstrators in Nablus supporting the hunger strikers
upon Jewish Israelis to support the call for justice for the Palestinian
Silence in the face of the Administrative Detention
of over 500 Palestinians is to be complicit in that injustice. Administrative
Detention means that prisoners have not been charged or tried in the courts.
Administrative Detention means that officials, presumably in a “security
cluster”, have decided that these prisoners are a threat to the security of the
Israeli state. Administrative Detention means that the prisoners are held,
possibly, on the basis of rumour or malicious gossip.
Administrative Detention is a violation of the
norms of a democratic criminal justice system.
Israel shows, by the continued use of Administrative Detention over many
decades, that it is not a democratic state but an authoritarian dictatorship.
Israel uses Administrative Detention only against Palestinians within Israel
and in the Occupied Territories. Many Palestinians who are being detained are
Palestinian youth demonstrate in support of the hunger strikers
Israel does not use Administrative Detention
against Jewish Israelis or Jews. Israel shows once again that it is an
Apartheid State; using laws and regulations in a racist oppressive manner
We South Africans know from our apartheid past how
laws and regulations such as Administrative Detention are used to bolster a
racist, apartheid system. Over the past 50 years more than eight hundred
thousand(!), I repeat: eight hundred thousand, Palestinians have
been imprisoned by the Israeli State under many explicitly racist laws and
administrative regulations under illegal military occupation of Palestine.
I am disappointed that too many Jewish Israelis are
silent in the face of Israeli state racism and the denial of justice. Silence
in the face of injustice such as Administrative Detention makes people
complicit in that injustice. I hear that Israel has announced new prison
regulations making it an offence for prisoners to go on hunger strike.
Apartheid South Africa made protest against racist laws an offence punishable
by very heavy penalties. That did not stop the struggle to end apartheid. It
did cause unnecessary suffering among the oppressed and the oppressor by
prolonging the struggle for justice and Freedom from racial oppression.
We know that many Palestinians are opposed to the
Israeli State’s system of racial differentiation of the rights of people by
race and religion. The legal and administrative discrimination against the Palestinian
people through separate laws and regulations constitutes the internationally
recognized Apartheid crime against humanity. We condemn the continued abuse of
the Universal Human Rights of the Palestinian people.
The immediate and long-term answer to the needs for
peace and stability throughout Palestine and the Israeli state is not more
Administrative Detention, nor imprisonment of those who demand justice. The
answer is not more illegal detention without trial. The answer has to be a
social and economic system under the rule of law that develops an inclusive and
Therefore we believe that the hunger strike by
political prisoners is justified and we say: End Administrative detention NOW!
Release all political prisoners NOW!
Denis Goldberg is an anti-apartheid struggle
stalwart and Rivonia Trialist. Goldberg, of Jewish origin, was sentenced in
1964 to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial alongside struggle heroes
including as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada and others. Goldberg
served 22 years in prison before being released in 1985.