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Nelson Mandela's grandson says Trump wants to 'fortify apartheid Israel'

Zwelivelile Mandela slams US president's Israel-Palestine deal as 'Hoax of the Century' during speech at Palestine Expo
Mandela said the boycott movement against the Israeli occupation 'is the most painful thorn in the side of apartheid Israel' [Reuters]

Nelson Mandela's grandson has slammed US President Donald Trump's "deal of the century," calling it a way to "fortify apartheid Israel" during a speech in London on Saturday. 

Zwelivelile Mandela, whose grandfather led South Africa out of apartheid, also told an audience at Europe's largest Palestine event, Palestine Expo, that the boycott movement against the Israeli occupation "is the most painful thorn in the side of apartheid Israel".

Israel and many of its allies have vehemently opposed the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement (BDS), including by passing legislation against it, and the event's support for a boycott fuelled calls by some pro-Israel groups for it to be cancelled. 

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Recalling the words of his grandfather during a visit to Gaza in 1995 in which he declared “that our struggle is yet incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinian people,” Mandela said the struggles in South Africa and Palestine were linked, and referred to the boycott of the apartheid state that brought pressure against the government there. 

"They [Israel] cannot stomach its worldwide popular appeal and success and will do all in their power and might to obstruct, hinder or stand in the way of any forum that advances the principles that BDS stands for," said Mandela, who is an MP in the ruling African National Congress. 

"Apartheid South Africa and its imperialist allies too underestimated the power of the people but today we stand before you free from centuries of colonization and free from decades of apartheid brutality and discrimination."

'Hoax of the Century' 

Mandela derided Trump's plan for Israel-Palestine, calling it the "Hoax of the Century" and accused the US of being a biased partner to negotiations. 

"Since coming to power he [Trump] has cut development aid to Palestinian refugees and literally severed the pipeline that provides hope and much needed medical care for children, some as young as one or two year old," he said.  

"He has defied international law and disregarded the global outcry against his announcement of moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem."

The two-day Palestine Expo involved panels on discussing life under occupation as well as Palestinian food and cultural shows. 

There were also virtual reality tours of Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque and exhibits on the struggles of providing healthcare under Gaza's blockade.

Israeli opposition

But the event faced opposition from a group called UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) , who tried to pressure the hosting venue, Olympia London, into cancelling the event on the basis that organisers support the BDS movement. 

When it refused to do so, UKLFI said it had written to Olympia's three German co-owner companies to raise its concerns.

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It also said it had cited a motion passed in the German parliament in May which condemned the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as antisemitic.

But Friends of al-Aqsa (FOA), which organised the event, said in a statement sent to Middle East Eye that it had not been contacted by any "institutes, authorities or companies" regarding the event. Nor had UKLFI contacted it directly, it said.

It also questioned why UKLFI had cited the German parliamentary motion, which it said was non-binding and had been criticised by Israeli academics, in a complaint about an event being held in the UK.

Samayyah Afzal, community engagement manager at the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "You see countless attacks building up to limit activism that happens on [university] campuses and around the UK.

"Our response to the attacks has to be to organise more, to do more," added Afzal, who spoke at a panel on the impact of the UK's counter-terrorism programme, Prevent, on Palestine activism.