When members of ACTION attended the Gaza Crisis Conference, they were warmly welcomed into a group of people whose dedication to peace and justice moved them to take action to address the Gaza Crisis. The group consisted of Muslims, Unionists and delegates from different organizations, all coming together under a common goal – to mobilise South Africa in freeing Gaza.
Many of the speakers from the day had a word or two to share about what is happening in Gaza, how South Africa fits into the crisis and what we, as the people, can do about it. The most notable speakers were the ambassador of Palestine, Cosatu, the ANC and a female journalist with direct, first hand experience of the Gaza crisis.
Each organization shared ideas on which route should be taken to free Gaza. Cosatu, for example, suggested using the labour power within South Africa to bring capital to and from Israel to a standstill. This would include a complete boycott from all sectors and their workers. The Labour Federation proposed that in partnership with the Muslim and Arab community, workers could support this process by identifying products that were imported and exported from Israel. The weapons used in Gaza and the materials used would be monitored, if passing through South Africa.
Others proposed the use of social media in raising awareness about the severity of the war in Gaza. The use of social media would mean identifying the reports, newspapers and pictures that have the most accurate depictions of the situation in Gaza. However, a challenge identified with social media was that at this point most of the anti-Gaza crisis groups are fragmented, with the result that the media tend to concentrate more on the “plight of Israel.” A representative of the ANC proposed that social media could be used to issue a call to unite under one umbrella and have mass mobilization take place, citing the effectiveness of mass mobilization in the struggle against apartheid.
Mass mobilization would also mean encouraging solidarity across different sectors, cultures and genders. It is a call to realise that the Gaza Crisis is a morality issue, a human rights and security issue. One spoke about what the conflict was doing to children in Palestine, highlight that the current generation were living under their third conflict. This meant a change in their perspective of life. Children were becoming more and more affected by the violence. The stories about children were a tear-jerker and made people realise how the most innocent of lives were affected.
The conference concluded with a plan for the way forward. It was agreed that all who shared an idea would come together and put that idea into action. The conference was organised by ordinary people with a desire for peace and justice, showing the power of collective action.