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Neighbourhood Support meeting for Palestine


On the day of the announcement of the opening by Egypt of the Rafah crossing into Gaza, thus lightening the siege of Gaza, the Idriss Goomany Centre Association, together with LALIT, held a neighbourhood solidarity meeting at La Tour Koenig. Thursday night, 26 May, at 8:00 pm, the neighbourhood hall saw some 60 people gathering to watch the moving short film, “The Caged Birds’ Song” and then to discuss the situation in Palestine. Men, women, young people and even some children, gathered in an atmosphere of intense interest. The timing of this support meeting was important, because the effects of the uprisings against the previous pro-US dictatorships in North Africa and the Middle East are now being felt; there is a change in the balance of forces between Israel and the Palestinians in favour of the Palestinians. And, while the people of Palestine have now been able to force an alliance upon the Fatah and Hamas leaderships, who have in turn decided to go to the UN General Assembly with a motion for the recognition of the State of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders, at the same time, the US President Barrack Obama has had to say that he will support the Palestinian State on the basis of these borders, in his last-ditch attempt to prevent the motion coming before the United Nations general assembly.

Ally Laser, for the Goomany Centre, said that it was important for everyone in Mauritius to stand up for the Palestinian people in their struggle against oppression, and that was what the organizers of this gathering were contributing to. He said how when they had organized a march in Port Louis, at the time of the beginning of the siege of Gaza, LALIT people had joined in. Alain Ah-Vee, for LALIT, said how this type of action had contributed towards the Mauritian Government suspending its diplomatic relations with Israel. He also told how, when he went to Palestine on the march against the “apartheid wall” that Israel has constructed, partly inside Palestine, a march which was all along the wall, there were many Israelis in the protest, alongside Palestinians and internationals like himself, facing the same army tear gas and sound bombs. Every day, he said, there were even a group of Rabbis protesting against the Israeli State, exposing themselves to the danger faced every day by so many Palestinians. Alain Ah-Vee said that, like the movement against apartheid in South Africa, sanctions, disinvestment and boycotts of Israeli produce do contribute to the isolation of the oppressive State.

There were then questions and comments from the floor. Ragini Kistnasamy came to the front and told about how the protests world-wide, but especially the uprisings in Middle Eastern countries, were making a huge difference, and how just 18 months ago, she had been amongst those that the Egyptian government prevented from going to Gaza through the Rafah crossing, at the time of the Gaza Freedom March. Now that the people of Egypt have had an uprising against their previous leaders and got rid of them, they have got enough power to impose the opening of the Rafah crossing. Things that seemed very difficult just 6 months ago now seem quite possible. Much of the debate was about how different forms of protest action, if well thought out, add together to put the kind of pressure on Israel and the US that will bring victory to the Palestinians.

Various strategies for boycotts against Israeli products in Mauritius, and to maintain pressure on the Mauritian government, were discussed.

Lindsey Collen