Open Shuhada Street is a South African based initiative that was established to raise awareness about the lack of freedom of movement in Hebron and how this issue is a reflection of the worst manifestations of the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories. It was started by a group of about 30 people on 28 January 2009 in Cape Town.
The idea for Open Shuhada Street came about after a trip to Hebron in the West Bank by a delegation of prominent individuals. During that visit, the delegation was shown Al-Shuhada Street (also known as Shuhada Street) and how it had been illegally closed to Palestinians. This, including the rest of Hebron, became symbolic of the greater injustice committed against Palestinians. Doron Isaacs, Rahma Mohamed, Rashaad Fortune and Nathan Geffen organised the first meeting, at which Open Shuhada Street was born.
This website was started by a group of activists in South Africa with the intention of promoting human rights in Israel-Palestine by creating a space where people can engage with these issues by sharing information and participating in solidarity campaigns.
Our vision is for an end to the occupation and for real peace, equality, justice and freedom in Palestine and Israel. We campaign for full civil rights for all Israelis and Palestinians. We recognise that it is Palestinians whose civil rights have been abrogated most, particularly in the West Bank and Gaza. Our organisation unites people from different backgrounds with a wide range of political and religious affiliations. To this end, we use advocacy (through the courts and other legal avenues), lobbying (through building good networks), research and public education to work towards our vision.
Our principles are:
- We recognise the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all people in Israel and Palestine.
- We respect the right to life of Israelis and Palestinians. Therefore we reject violence, other than in self-defence and where absolutely necessary. We reject violent attacks irrespective of who carries them out.
- We will engage in and support only non-violent forms of political action.
- All people of the Middle East deserve the right to democratic participation and equality regardless of religion, ethnicity, culture, national origin, language, race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or other status.
- The resolution of the conflict in Israel and Palestine should conform to international law and be concluded through negotiations involving all parties, under the auspices of independent mediation. An acceptable solution will safeguard and advance the rights of all people in the region, and will promote peace.
- We are a non-sectarian movement. We welcome both Jews and Muslims as well as people of all faiths and none.
- We expose and vigorously counter anti-semitism and Islamophobia.
OSS’ campaigns adopt the strategies used to end South African apartheid. Currently, we are led by a Management Committee comprising Reverend Alan Storey (Chairperson), Jonathan Dockney (Secretary), Zimkita Booi (Treasurer), and Zackie Achmat (Legal Committee); with Bruce Baigrie, Shuaib Manjra and Sifiso Zitwana as additional members.
- Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu;
- former SA Health Minister Barbara Hogan;
- BDS South Africa;
- Congress of South African Trade Unions;
- Equal Education;
- Kairos Southern Africa;
- Lawyers for Human Rights;
- Social Justice Coalition;
- Southern African Litigation Centre;
- University of Cape Town Palestine Solidarity Forum;
- University of Witwatersrand and University of Johannesburg Palestine Solidarity Committees;
- Popular Struggle Coordinating Committee (Israel/West Bank);
- Boycott National Committee (Israel/West Bank);
- Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel/West Bank);
- Breaking the Silence (Israel/West Bank);
- Boycott Ahava (US); and
- Jewish Voices for Peace (US).
Our current management committee includes (elected at our annual general meeting on the 23rd of July 2012):
Chair – Rev. Alan Storey
A main street in Hebron “closed by mistake”
The main street in Hebron ‘s commercial area has been closed to Palestinians since 2000. The army closed all the shops and sealed the doors at the entrances to the houses . Six years later, three Palestinians try to cross the street.
Documentary: “The Rooftops of Hebron” – Restrictions on movement
In 2000, the army closed Shohada Street , in Hebron , to Palestinians and sealed the entrances to the houses on the street. To leave her home, Malka Kafisha had to climb up through the roofs of neighboring houses. www.btselem.org
B’Tselem is an Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.