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Mandela's grandson delivers hope of freedom from 'Israeli apartheid' at London Palestine Expo Open in fullscreen

Diana Alghoul

Mandela's grandson delivers hope of freedom from 'Israeli apartheid' at London Palestine Expo

The Palexpo is dubbed the biggest Palestine event in Europe [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 8 July, 2019

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This year's London PalExpo offered an air of Mandela-style hope, with the attendance of the grandson of Chief Zwelivelile Mandela, the grandson of the late icon.
Despite a vicious campaign by Israeli lawyers to stop what is being dubbed as Europe’s largest Palestine event in Europe, Palestinians and supporters expressed hope for freedom during the Palestine Expo in London.

The event, hosted by charity group Friends of al-Aqsa, included dozens of speakers, entertainers  and seminars to highlight the plight of Palestinians while celebrating their resilience and culture.

Palestinians from across the global diaspora and from within Palestine and Israel used the event to relay their local struggles in resisting Israeli occupation and apartheid.

But among the most famous activists to attend the event was Chief Zwelivelile Mandela, the grandson of Nelson Mandela, who used the platform to slam what he described as Israeli apartheid.

The South African politician said Israel's Nation-State Law passed in 2018 declaring Israel to be the historical homeland of the Jewish people "confirmed what we have always known to be the true character and reality of Israel: Israel is an apartheid state".

Speaking on the struggles faced by black South Africans during apartheid, Mandela linked the two causes, saying "all these characteristics were present in apartheid Israel since its inception but have now been codified and given a constitutional status and expression by the Nation-State Law.

"Apartheid Israel perpetuates statutory discrimination through the very definition by the law as a Jewish state; by doing so it renders non-Jews as second-class citizens, alternately as foreigners in the land of their birth," he said.

“In our own struggle for freedom we learnt the lesson that the struggle must be waged on multiple fronts: cultural, academic, trade, political, diplomatic, sport, communication but most of all the battle of the hearts and the battle of perception”, he said in one of his speeches at the expo.

The MP also urged others across the world to continue organising so “that we achieve freedom in our lifetime”, noting that as “active citizens, we fly the Palestine flag high.”

Despite its growth in the UK, Mandela said the pro-Palestine cause in the country needs a lot more work.

Palestine activists in the UK must aim higher and transport their activism to the rest of the European continent to create stronger bonds with other communities to organise even more change, he said.

‘Israeli Weapon of anti-Semitism’

The event came amid widespread accusations and smear campaigns by pro-Israeli groups designed to silence pro-Palestine groups, including the host Friend of Al-Aqsa.

But the charity’s head, Ismael Patel urged people to remain resistant in the fight for Palestinians.

“We shouldn’t be afraid of the weapon of anti-Semitism”, Patel urged in his speech.

He added that Jewish organisations have not “not been working with us for two years, they’ve been working with us for a few decades.”

But despite it all, the Palestine Expo celebrated Palestine through a range of stalls flaunting Palestinian culture, food and activism for justice to educate attendees on the cause and expand networking opportunities.

Friends of Al-Aqsa advocates for Palestine across the UK, especially through liaising with student networks and to raise money for Palestinians.

Along with calling for justice for Palestinians, the charity emphasises the significance and the centrality of the al-Aqsa Mosque to the Islamic faith and the Muslim identity and re-affirming the Muslim historic and religious rights to the area.

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