Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

5 Nobel Laureates Join South African Campaign To Free Palestinians Held by Israel

An international campaign launched in Cape Town to free Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails has been condemned by the South African Zionist Federation.

Launched late last month by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 of his 27 years’ imprisonment by the apartheid government, the Free Marwan Barghouti campaign’s support committee includes five Nobel Peace laureates, among them Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

The South African Zionist Federation, or SAZF, said in a statement that Barghouti had been jailed for terrorism and the murder of Israeli civilians and it was an insult to struggle leaders such as Mandela to compare him with them, the daily Cape Times reported. “Barghouti is not a political prisoner, but a terrorist guilty of multiple crimes against humanity. As a leader of the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, he was responsible for dozens of terrorist acts over a number of years.”

Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, and Kathrada, who was incarcerated with Mandela on the Island, visited Mandela’s cell to mark the launch. Kathrada expressed the wish that the campaign would “surpass the Release Mandela campaign.”

“Just as apartheid South Africa was isolated, we want Israel to be isolated from the civil world. That is what we aim to do,” he said. Kathrada, who spent a week in the Palestinian territories earlier this year, said that “in some ways (the situation) was worse than apartheid.”

Local Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign spokesman, Muhammed Desai, said the SAZF was not qualified to talk about the anti-apartheid movement as it had officially supported the apartheid regime.

“The federation was on the wrong side of history when it supported apartheid South Africa. It’s a pity it is now, again, on the wrong side of history by supporting apartheid Israel,” Desai said.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.