December 30, 2008

Stop the killings, the wall, the bantustans – ALL

Filed under: opinion article — newritings @ 3:30 pm

As I write, bombs are falling on many innocent civilians. Most are unarmed and others poorly equipped with weapons that symbolise resistance but in effect are no match for the Made in the USA fighter planes and killer helicopters. The perpetrator, like the global elephant in the room, remains untouched by the world powers, whilst we in civil society are repulsed at such savagery. This firework seems to have the blessings of president George Bush and represents his last sanctioned farewell gift to Israel.  We are disappointed but not surprised. …and we do not hold out much hope for a fundamental change on Palestine either by the new president Obama when he takes office in January 2009.

For decades the Zionists’ project has tried to claim a monopoly of suffering, invoking in particular the genocide of 6 million Jewish people during World War 2. Now with every killing of any innocent Palestinian, world civil society watches as the moral high ground slips away. Those who have suffered oppression and exploitation must be held to higher moral accountability than oppressors, tyrants and cold-blooded killers. We who love justice, peace and solidarity must always and will always remember the death of innocent Jews, gays, gypsies and others by the Nazis and we must never forget the lessons from such brutal ethnic cleansing that the world promised “never again.” We must call on Israeli leaders to think hard about what they are doing.  They must think carefully whom are they emulating: oppressors or oppressed? The military power of Israel and complicity of global powers makes the answer clear to us: they are not emulating the values of compassion and justice cherished by the oppressed people over centuries.

The media tells us that over 350 Palestinians are dead and hundreds injured and about 6 Israeli citizens as a direct cause of Hamas related actions… and in my disgust that bites my gut, I have to think how we in South Africa turned away from violence towards a more normal society (with all our problems).  For Israel to turn the corner from violence and the politics of fear and terror, it must learn the lessons from South Africa and other countries that have overcome brutal repression and oppression: it must reject state sponsored violence (terror) and move away from policies that divide people. It also means putting an end to the Bantustan policies [1] it has pursued and is pursuing in land in the territories seized after 1967, which perfects the Apartheid racists’ dream, but in the land of the Palestinians. For Israel to turn the corner towards a society that values human decency and justice means that it must start by the simple, small step of recognising each and every person as  “human” attaching no greater value to one because of the colour of their skin, race or religion. That simple step takes courage to move away from the hate and bombs as we in South Africa have shown.

Earlier this year, in South Africa campaigners of  “Stop the Wall” issued a statement (below) saying there was no reason to celebrate in Israel’s supposed birthday, and further explored some pointers useful when thinking of the South African struggle as it relates to possible lessons for us seeking justice both oppressor and the oppressed in this region.

In Solidarity


[1] Bantustan is the term used to refer to any of 10 former territories that were designated by the white-dominated government of South Africa as pseudo-national homelands for the country’s black African (classified by the government as Bantu) population during the mid- to late 20th century. The Bantustans were a major administrative device for the exclusion of blacks from the South African political system under the policy of apartheid, or racial segregation. (Definition by the Britannica Online Encyclopedia)

We fought apartheid; we see no reason to celebrate it in Israel now!

We, South Africans who faced the might of an unjust and brutal apartheid machinery in South Africa and fought against it with all our strength, with the objective to live in a just, democratic society, refuse today to celebrate the existence of an Apartheid state in the Middle East. While Israel and its apologists around the world will, with pomp and ceremony, celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel this year, we who have lived with and struggled against oppression and colonialism will, instead, remember six decades of catastrophe for the Palestinian people. Some 60 years ago, 750,000 Palestinians were brutally expelled from their homeland, suffering persecution, massacres, and torture. They and their descendants remain refugees. This is no reason to celebrate.

When we think of the Sharpeville massacre of 1960,
we also remember the Deir Yassin massacre of 1948.

When we think of South Africa’s Bantustan policy,
we remember the bantustanisation of Palestine by the Israelis.

When we think of our heroes who languished on Robben Island and elsewhere,
we remember the 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.

When we think of the massive land theft perpetrated against the people of South Africa,
we remember that the theft of Palestinian land continues with the building of illegal Israeli settlements and the Apartheid Wall.

When we think of the Group Areas Act and other such Apartheid legislation,
we remember that 93% of the land in Israel is reserved for Jewish use only.

When we think of Black people being systematically dispossessed in South Africa,
we remember that Israel uses ethnic and racial dispossession to strike at the heart of Palestinian life.

When we think of how the SADF troops persecuted our people in the townships,
we remember that attacks from tanks, fighter jets and helicopter gunships are the daily experience of Palestinians in the Occupied Territory.

When we think of the SADF attacks against our neighbouring states,
we remember that Israel deliberately destabilises the Middle East region and threatens international peace and security, with its powerful army and hundreds of nuclear warheads.

We who have fought against Apartheid and vowed not to allow it to happen again cannot allow Israel to continue perpetrating apartheid, colonialism and occupation against the indigenous people of Palestine.

We dare not allow Israel to continue violating international law with impunity.

We will not stand by while Israel continues to starve and bomb the people of Gaza.

We who fought all our lives for South Africa to be a state for all its people demand that millions of Palestinian refugees must be accorded the right to return to the homes from where they were expelled.

Apartheid was a gross violation of human rights. It was so in South Africa and it is so with regard to Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians!


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