Alain Ah-Vee gave a speech on the “Two-State Solution: What it Looks Like Today for Palestine” that was riveting because he linked it to his hands-on experience of what it is like to live under military occupation in Palestine. He gave the first example of how just to get into Palestine, you find its frontiers are not its own. He, like everyone else, had to go past Israeli soldiers, instead of Palestinian immigration and customs officials. He said that in East Jerusalem, part of Palestine, there are armed young Israeli soldiers that patrol within Palestine. They carry loud hailers and can just call over any Palestinian at random, he said, and ask for his “pass”. He described the march that 100 or so internationals, including himself, had participated in all along the “apartheid wall” that Israel has built. How Palestinians face daily harassment from Israeli Defence Force troops, all along the wall. The march he said had participants from both Palestine and Israel.
Alain’s speech was part of the Forum held yesterday 8 February in the Council Chamber of the Municipality of Port Louis, organized by the Association des Travailleurs Sociaux and chaired by Ally Lazer, someone with a long history of support for the Palestinian struggle. The conference was apparently originally planned to be an internal event for the Association. So, there were no leaflets, public announcements or posters, as there usually are for Forums – the invitations just went by word of mouth. Amongst the audience, LALIT members were very present – despite rain and traffic issues.
The first speaker, Sedley Assonne, said how his heart was with the Palestinian people. He spoke of the bravery of the young girl, Ahed Tamimi, who slapped an Israeli soldier, and how normal a reaction this is when you are under military occupation like she is, and the hideous military reaction of the Israeli State. He denounced the Mauritian President and Government for giving any recognition to the Israeli State, and said, speaking for all of us present, how awful he felt seeing Ms Gurib-Fakim shaking hands for the press photograph with a new Israeli Ambassador whose headquarters are in Pretoria. He said how the European countries and the USA had dumped their own deep communal problem, that is to say anti-Semitism – so acute that it led in Germany to a literal holocaust – on the backs of the Palestinian people, by opening up a settler colony on their land. He blamed the US and European Governments for supporting Israel, as well as denouncing the Governments of Arab countries for collusion. The good news is, he said, that the BDS movement has been proposed for the next Nobel Peace Prize.
Vijay Makhan, who has been in diplomatic service for a rich career and is in a state of rupturing with his party the MMM, was the other speaker. He gave a fine speech, too. His emphasis was on the shame for the international community that the injustice done to the Palestinian people has continued – from British Occupation after the Ottoman Empire was dismantled by the First World War and the Balfour Declaration through the Green Line after the 2nd World War, until today. And finally, the terrible situation when African countries like Togo and Rwanda, and Arab countries – like Egypt right now allowing unmarked Israeli bombers to raid terrorist nests in the Sinai – have not just capitulated, but are allying with the Israeli outrage against international law and morality. He said that Israel has, indeed, become an Apartheid State – and gave proof. Both he and Sedley Assonne referred to the role of Indian Prime Minister Modi – another capitulation to Israeli bullying.
From the floor, there were questions and debate – until time ran out. Kisna Kistnasamy who has been on an international brigade to Palestine twice, and was part of the attempt to get to Gaza a year before the fall of Mubarak, spoke from the floor. People present wanted to continue the work on Palestine. Points were brought up: The question of the Mauritian Government having the CEB give a contract for fibre-optics to an Israeli firm, and the Prison Commissioner saying that there had been Israelis called in to try and fix their blocking of mobile phones for the prisoners in a way that didn’t block all the neighbours’ mobile phones. Opposing this kind of collusion with Israel on the part of the Mauritian authorities will be a good point from which to pick up the BDS Mauritius work.