Status

Who says Israel is guilty of Apartheid?

People often argue that “this and that were so in South Africa” and because “this and that are not so” in Israel, Israel is not an apartheid state. But such logic holds no water.

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What is apartheid?

An article in the newspaper Star (13 March 2014, by Solly Mapaila ) correctly argues that the Jewish democracy’s laws and practices fall squarely into the United Nations’ definition of apartheid. In other words, Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is not defined in terms of the former South African situation, but in terms of international law which calls apartheid a crime against humanity (Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court 2002). The International Criminal Court’s definition of apartheid is

“the systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime” (2002:6).

Who says Israel is an apartheid state?

In 2012 the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination found Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territories “tantamount to Apartheid” and that

“many state policies within Israel also violate the prohibition on Apartheid as enshrined in Article 3 of the Convention.” (Erakat & Madi 2012)

Prior to that, in November 2011, the Russell Tribunal in Cape Town articulated similar findings.

Human Rights Watch in turn published a report titled “Israel/West Bank: Separate and Unequal” (2010) which details Israel’s discriminatory practices against the indigenous Palestinians.

And in 2009, the South African Human Sciences Research Council (2009:277) concluded their in-depth report as follows:

“Both colonialism and apartheid are prohibited by international law. This Report has found strong evidence to indicate that Israel has violated, and continues to violate, both prohibitions in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

An international team of scholars and practitioners of international public law from South Africa, the United Kingdom, Israel and Palestine conducted the study.

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Surely most South Africans recognise Israel’s crimes, right?

As we benefitted from the world’s active support in demolishing apartheid, one would imagine that South Africans would now keenly respond to a plea to the international community for  non-violent resistance against Israel’s discrimination, oppression and occupation of Palestinians.

What is so shocking, is that so many South Africans do not know, or are not willing to acknowledge Israel’s apartheid crimes. The very people who suffered under apartheid and those who used to support apartheid, but say they have since changed, are now focusing on their own lives, their own comfort and their own problems and they turn a blind eye to another people who also suffer under apartheid. They forget that Palestinians helped to campaign for justice in South Africa during the apartheid struggle.

Does it mean that our transition to a post-apartheid psyche has only been cosmetic? In other words, is the change in our society superficial and not principled? Are we settling for pragmatic changes? Or perhaps we are ignorant about Israel’s crimes against humanity? Are we too comfortable to rock the boat?

Why do we turn away and continue to romanticise Israel? Why do we confuse the modern state with the Biblical entity? Why do Christians travel to the Holy Land and then ignore the descendents of the first Christians in the old city of Jerusalem, in Bethlehem, Jericho, Nablus, Hebron and elsewhere in Palestine? For how long must these people suffer while we, post-apartheid South Africans, look away and/or support Israel as some hero?  Can we really be happy, content and fulfilled as a new nation if we ignore a repetition of apartheid?  Is it fair to hide behind our own national issues and forget the world’s (and the Palestinians’) support in demolishing apartheid here?

A chance to know more…

If you want to know more, make sure to attend and participate in this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week. Our national initiatives from part of a worldwide campaign.

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Find the schedule of activities in more than 45 cities and towns here.

REFERENCES:

Erakat, N. & Madi, R. 2012. UN Committee 2012 Session Concludes Israeli System Tantamount to Apartheid. [Online]. Jadaliyya. Available: http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/5588/un-committee-2012-session-concludes-israeli-system. [2014, 13 March].

Human Sciences Research Council.  2009. Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A re-assessment of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law.  Cape Town: HSRC.

Roadmap to Apartheid. 2012. Dir.: Ana Nogueira, Eron Davidson, Nathaniel Cunningham. Cinematography: Ana Nogueira. Narrator: Alice Walker. United States of America. ? ? min. English. Prod.: Ana Nogueira & Eron Davidson. Studio??

Russell Tribunal on Palestine. 2011. Executive summary of the findings of the third session of the RToP. A systematic and institutionalised regime. [Online]. Available: http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/sessions/south-africa/south-africa-session-%E2%80%94-full-findings/cape-town-session-summary-of-findings. [2013, 21 September].

United Nations. 2002. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. [Online]. Available: http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/english/rome_statute%28e%29.pdf. [2012, 11 October].

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Video

Gaza as seen by an Israeli soldier and street artist Banksy

A revealing interview

Everyone should hear how a former IDF soldier explains the similarities of what his grandmother experienced in Auschwitz and why he has to speak out against Israel and the USA. Eran Efrati is a former IDF soldier who recounts his experience, assignments and killing protocols along with what he witnessed as a soldier to Aby Martin:

Abby-MartinClick here for the YouTube interview.

 

When Banksy sneaked into Gaza

It is not the first time that Banksy, a street artist revered by millions for his socio-political commentary on the walls of the world, has been to the occupied Palestinian territories. His graffiti are on the segregation wall in Bethlehem and in Ramallah, and now also on the ruins of Gaza:

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Israeli Apartheid Week Campaign

South Africa’s 2014 IsraeliApartheidWeek campaign was launched today. Watch the inspiring IAW trailer – it will touch you.

The campaign involving events in more than 25 cities and towns involving students at more  has been endorsed by over 75 South African organizations including the South African Council of Churches (click here), South Africa’s ruling party the ANC (click here), South Africa’s largest trade union confederation COSATU (click here) and several other organizations. Click here for more information on IAW taking place in South Africa and how you can get involved.

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) was launched 10 years ago. Today it takes place in 150 international cities. is an annual international series of events (including rallies, lectures, cultural performances, music shows, films and workshops) that raises awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies against the indigenous Palestinians and garners support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.

SOUTH AFRICAN ORGANIZATIONS ENDORSING IAW:

African National Congress (ANC), African National Congress Women’s League (ANC WL), African National Congress Youth League (ANC YL), Ahlul Bayt Youth Movement of South Africa (ABYMOSA), Amandla, Botswana National Front (BNF), Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDS South Africa), Caring Women’s Forum (CWF), Centre for Civil Society (CCS), Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU), Coalition for a Free Palestine (CFP), Communication Workers Union (CWU), Congress of South African Students (COSAS), Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA), Embassy of Palestine in South Africa, Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), Friends of Cuba (FOCUS), Jamiatul Ulama of South Africa, Kairos Southern Africa, Islamic Medical Association of South Africa (IMA), Media Review Network (MRN), Mkhonto WeSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA), Muslim Professional Network (MPN), Muslim Youth Movement (MYM), National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Newcastle Sports Association (NCSA),Open Shuhada Street (OSS), Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA PE), Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA Port Shepstone), Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA), Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP), Pietermaritzburg For Palestine (PMB4PALESTINE), Police and Prison Civil Right Union (POPCRU), Rhodes University Palestine Solidarity Forum (Rhodes PSF), Runners For The Freedom of Palestine, Rustenburg Palestine Solidarity Forum (Rustenburg PSF), South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU), South African Artists Against Apartheid (SAAAA), South African Communist Party (SACP), South African Council of Churches (SACC), South African Council of Churches Youth Forum (SACCYF), South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU), South African National Defence Union (SANDU), South African National Women’s Forum (SANWMF), South African Students Congress (SASCO), South African Union of Students (SAUS), Stellenbosch Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Stellenbosch PSC), StopTheJNF, Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), UKZN Theology & Development Programme (UKZN-T&D), Union of Muslim Students Association (MSA), University of Cape Town Palestine Solidarity (UCT PSF), University of Johannesburg Palestine Solidarity Forum (UJ PSF), University of Western Cape Palestine Solidarity Association (UWC PSA), Vaal Muslim Womens Forum (MWF), Wits University Palestine Solidarity Forum (Wits PSC), Johannesburg Workers Museum, Workers World Media Productions (WWMP), World Federation of Trade Union (WFTU), Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL), Zaytoun South Africa.

Click here to watch the 2014 Israeli Apartheid Week trailer.

Launch of Israeli Apartheid Week in South Africa

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PRESS CONFERENCE INVITE: Launch of Israeli Apartheid Week in South Africa with Simphiwe Dana, former South African ambassador to Israel, representatives of national organizations and others [Sunday, 9 March 2014]

Members of the media are invited to a press conference this Sunday (09 March 2014) which will launch the 10th international Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).

PRESS CONFERENCE TO LAUNCH ISRAELI APARTHEID WEEK 2014

DATE: 09 March 2014

TIME: 11h00

VENUE: Workers Museum, 52 Jeppe Street, Newtown (Opposite Sci-Bono Museum)

SPEAKERS:

– Musician, Simphiwe Dana

– Palestinian Ambassador to South Africa, H.E. Hafiz Nofal

– Former South African Ambassador to Israel, Ismail Coovadia

– Israeli Author of “The General’s Son”, Miko Peled

– Mayor of Johannesburg and Chairperson of ANC JHB Region, Parks Tau (TBC)

– Deputy General Secretary of the South African Communist Party, Solly Mapaila

– 2nd Deputy President of COSATU, Zingiswa Losi

– Deputy President of the South African Students Congress, Thabo Mlotja

– Deputy National Secretary, Alex Mashilo
– Deputy President of South African Union of Students, Tebogo Thotela

– President of South African Council of Churches Youth Forum, Vuyani Pule

– Coordinator of Swaziland Solidarity Network, Lucky Lukhele

– General Secretary of Friends of Cuba Society (FOCUS)

– Spokesperson for Stop The JNF (a group of progressive Jews in solidarity with the Palestinians), Alan Horwitz

– Director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Neeshan Bolton
– Kairos Southern Africa, Stiaan van der Merwe

– International Relations Secretary of ANC Youth League, Rebone Tau

At the Sunday 09th of March press conference the full schedule of IAW events for the upcoming week will be released to the media including details of which Government Ministers, artists, church leaders and others will be speaking during and for Israeli Apartheid Week as well as what sporting and cultural events will be hosted.

Media are invited to conduct interviews with members of the Israeli Apartheid Week campaign. Interviews, debates, radio shows and TV discussions can be arranged in all South African languages and in all South African cities and towns.

This year the 10th international Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) campaign will be held in over over 250 cities across the world, including in more than 25 South African cities, towns and universities. Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) will be held in South Africa between the 10th and 16th of March and organisers indicate that it will be the biggest IAW since it was first launched in 2004. To date over 75 South African organisations across the country including South Africa’s ruling-party the African National Congress, South Africa’s largest trade union confederation, COSATU; the South African Council of Churches; and several other civil society organisations  have endorsed the IAW campaign.

IAW is an annual international series of events (including rallies, lectures, cultural performances, music shows, films and workshops) that seek to raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies against the indigenous Palestinians and garner support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign which is aimed to bring an end to Israel’s apartheid policies and violations of international law.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, COMMENT OR TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW:
IAW South Africa National Convenor, Muhammed Desai:
+27 (0) 842119988
IAW South Africa National Spokesperson, Kwara Kekana:
+27 (0) 72 449 1774


ISSUED BY KWARA KEKANA, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON OF “ISRAELI APARTHEID WEEK SOUTH AFRICA TEAM”
Tel:
+27 (0) 72 449 1774
Email:
iawsouthafrica@apartheidweek.org
Twitter:
www.twitter.com/iawsouthafrica
Facebook:
www.facebook.com/iawsouthafrica
Website:
www.bdssouthafrica.com/2011/02/israeli-apartheid-week.html or www.apartheidweek.org

Video

Senior SA clergy who suffered under apartheid comment on Israel

Their words are clear. In brief, yet powerful clips, several senior South African theologians, including the new President of the South African Council of Churches Rev Zipho Siwa, talk about Israel’s oppression of Palestinians as apartheid.

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The upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW, 10 – 16 March) is an excellent opportunity for South Africans to educate themselves on what happens in Palestine-Israel, they said.

Click on these links to hear what people who suffered under apartheid in South Africa say about Israeli apartheid.

Bishop Zipho Siwa

Rev. Dr. Frank Chikane

Rev Dr Moss Nthla

Rev Pieter Grove

Archbishop Dr. Thabo Makgoba

I am so very, very aware that many well-meaning South Africans maintain myths on Israel and Palestine. When I read their comments on my blog and in the media, it often feels like a physical pain in my stomach.  How can we, a people with a legacy of apartheid, not educate ourselves on Israel’s abuses? Not in terms of what happened in South Africa, but in terms of how international law defines apartheid? I call on you – use the Israeli Apartheid Week or any other reliable source of information such as the United States (www.ochaopt.org) to inform yourself.

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SA’s ruling party supports Israeli Apartheid Week

iaw South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) declared their unequivocal  support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination. In support for the upcoming Israel Apartheid Week(10 – 16 March) they said:

The ANC recognises that the international anti-Apartheid movement and sanctions campaign was shouldered, taken on and defended by thousands of ordinary citizens from numerous countries around the world. These ordinary citizens, made our struggle, their life. We are forever indebted to them.

Today we humbly continue the internationalism of our movement in lending our solidarity to the people of Cuba, Western Sahara, Swaziland, Palestine and other struggling people.

The ANC is proud to join the over 75 South African organisations, trade unions, civil society groups, schools, universities, religious communities, NGOs and other formations in participating in this year’s 10th International Israeli Apartheid Week. The vast array of participating organisations is an indication of our vibrant democracy.

The ANC is unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel.

In participating in IAW this year we recall the words of our late President, Oliver Tambo: “The ANC feels most honored…to address the international community…on the important question of Palestine – a question with which the people of South Africa fully identify”.

Issued by
Obed Bapela
Chairperson of the ANC NEC SubCommittee on International Relations

Enquiries
Keith Khoza 0828239672
Khusela Sangoni 0728545707

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Gallery

Mandela: Intertwined lives

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“Peace, freedom and democracy for all South Africans!” proclaimed Nelson Mandela on his release from prison in 1990, also declaring himself as  “a servant to all in South Africa”. Today we are a nation in mourning.

After being condemned and locked away for 27 years as a political prisoner, Mandela received the Nobel Prize for Peace (1993) and became the first president of the new, democratic South Africa (1994).

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Mandela became the one who inspired diverse people to reconcile – those who struggled against apartheid, those like me who did nothing to end the injustices of oppression and even those who thought that inequality and racial separation were the best for all.

He showed us what it looks like when you grant others what you want for yourself.

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He availed himself to be Tata (“Father”) to all of us.  He served us through his humility, his warmth, his wisdom and his openness, and when with children he used to look as if he has never lost the unbounded joy of an unscarred child.

Madiba made me feel safe and cared for even though I was one of those who, for most of the time, did nothing to end the injust apartheid system. He, and many others who struggled against apartheid, fostered a climate in which I could face and acknowledge my guilt of inaction and therefore of complicity in maintaining an oppressive system.

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I mourn the passing of this beloved man. My heart is with his family and loved ones. My heart is with all comrades who struggled with him against oppression.

And yet…

…I also lament the ongoing pain, suffering, corruption, neglect, greed and other injustices in my country. I cry out for my land! I ache to see a dream in mud! Should we already mourn the loss of Mandela’s legacy? Where is our servanthood?

“Who have we become?” Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu recently asked passionately. “Who have we become?”

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HOW DID WE LOSE OURSELVES?

Who do we want to be in the here and now?

The life of Madiba should be remembered through our attitudes and our actions.

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We are still here. It is our responsibility to shape the texture of every breath and every step.

I rejoice that I am not free from my memory of maintaining the oppression of others as I do not want to be free from it. I want to remember where I come from and how for many years I did not know how to feel fully human.  Now I shall continue to breathe and walk. My life is intertwined with all.

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Marwan Barghouti

SOUTH AFRICAN COUNCIL OF CHURCHES PRESS RELEASE

ON NELSON MANDELA

December 6, 2013.

 

Today the people of South Africa and the world, stop in their tracks to recognize the sad departure from his illustrious earthly life, of Nelson Mandela. The South African Council of Churches extends a special pastoral embrace to the Mandela family at this time. We are very much saddened by the news of the death of our Nations first President: A man of vision, courage and zeal for the liberation of humankind. He has lived a selfless life so that we may all enjoy freedom and the fullness of life, just as our Lord had purposed. Today we are a respected nation because of his tireless fighting spirit to free us from oppression, exploitation and sexism, and for this we thank God.

 

In his words Mandela said, “Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden, but never extinguished”. On the night of his sad departure, that flame of his goodness was held up by the grace of God, that it may remain to inspire and influence present and future generations to strive always to live for the common good, after the manner of Jesus Christ who said I have come that you may have life to the fullest.

 

Thus Nelson Mandela will not have died, but would have transitioned to a perpetual beacon of light for the democratic order that he led as the first democratic president of the Republic of South Africa.

 

We call on the nation to pay respect our former president deserves even at his death, by praying for his soul, his family and the nation. We call on the churches and all people of faith, to focus their worship services and prayers this weekend not only to mourn Mandela but also to celebrate his achievements and thank God for his life and example. The Mandelas are members of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and therefore we appeal to all denomination to support the leadership of the Methodist Church in all ministrations.

 

Today a special meeting of Church leaders and representatives of various denomination will be held at Khotso House, the Headquarters  of the SACC.   

 

For further information and enquiries, please call the President of the SACC at 0828931378

Issued by the South African Council of Churches, Khotso House, Johannesburg

He is Jewish, South African, and against the demonisation of Palestinians

Cape Town’s pro-Human Rights and its Zionist communities are known for their hot debates in the local newspapers.  Ben Levitas is one of the regular writers.  Here Dr Paul Hendler – a Jewish friend – answers Levitas in a wonderful letter:

Cape Argus 12 April 2013:

Ben Levitas (“Israel’s apartheid label is a slanderous fabrication”, Cape Argus, March 13) should know that Israel’s apartheid label is based on a 302-page Human Sciences Research Council (www.hsrc.ac.za) study of Israel’s policies.

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Notwithstanding Israel’s classification of the occupied Palestinian territories – the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza – as unoccupied, international law regards them as being under ‘belligerent occupation’, which is intended to be temporary.  However Israel has occupied the West Bank for 46 years and Gaza is still under siege.

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) (1965) provides the basis for, and the International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (‘Apartheid Convention’) (1973) as well as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (‘Rome Statute’) (1998) define, apartheid as an international crime, not as it was practised in South Africa, but as a system that denies people’s right to life and liberty; imposes conditions to cause the physical destruction of a racial group; implements measures to prevent a racial group from participating in the political/social/economic/cultural life of society; divides the population along racial lines; exploits the labour of a particular racial group, and persecutes organisations and people opposing apartheid.

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Levitas argues that the Israel/Palestine conflict is primarily a religious one, hence the situation cannot be analogous to apartheid. In the occupied territories, the HSRC study finds that ‘Jewish’ and ‘Palestinian’ identities are socially constructed as groups distinguished by ancestry or descent as well as nationality, ethnicity, and religion, and therefore meet the requirement of ‘racial groups’ as referred to in international law.

The study assumes that not all the six aspects of apartheid as defined above have to be identified in an existing system to conclude that it is an apartheid system, but that there should be a sufficient number, which in combination constitute a systematic regime of racial oppression. It concludes that Israel practices apartheid in the occupied territories through the following activities –

  • extra-judicial killings, torture and a separate legal system;
  • restrictions on the right of full development of Palestinians as a group such as those on their freedom of movement, place of residence, nationality, work and so on;
  • impeding Palestinians’ education and running a segregated education system;
  • restricting Palestinians freedom of expression and opinion as well as their freedom of peaceful assembly; dividing the West Bank into racial cantons, extensive appropriation of Palestinian land for exclusive Jewish use; and
  • arresting, imprisoning and banning the travel of Palestinians, and targeting Palestinian parliamentarians, national political leaders and human rights defenders.

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Levitas argues further that there are two hostile states, Israel and Palestine, and that Israelis need to protect themselves. The study acknowledges the merit of Israel’s claims for security. It notes that the devolution of power to the Palestinian National Authority and Legislative Council (created through the Oslo Accords) has been only partial, and that Israel retains ultimate control. It concludes that Israel’s security actions are disproportionate to its security needs, their primary purpose being to prevent Palestinian opposition to racial domination.

Levitas’ argument that it is the countries ‘hosting’ the Palestinian refugees who are guilty of perpetuating apartheid demonstrates a cynical opportunism in its denial of the role of Zionism in creating the refugees. In this regard, I recommend Benny Morris’ 2004 interview with Haaretz (http://www.counterpunch.org/shavit01162004.html).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe illegal Israeli Wall built on Palestinian land

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA demolished Palestinian house in East Jerusalem

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Levitas’ criticism of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel for ignoring anti-semitism is inaccurate – BDS South Africa commemorated the Holocaust in January and is opposed to anti-semitism and all forms of racism within and outside of its ranks. In arguing that the BDS campaign apportions all the blame to one side Levitas neatly sidesteps the crucial point that the systematic implementation of a colonial policy by Israel oppresses the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

I write as a Jewish South African who stands against the demonisation of the Palestinian people, and for an objective account of the facts of their circumstances.

 Paul Hendler, Stellenbosch

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Dr  Paul  Hendler is the Director of a business that enables sustainable human settlements in South Africa that are socially and economically just and viable.  

To me Paul is a living example of that kind of justice and human dignity that is not only directed to the “own”.  It is great to hear his voice in public.

Click to read Hendler’s reply to Levitas in the Cape Argus, 12 April 2013.

South African apartheid ended, Zionist apartheid continues

God is not a real estate agent” and “I remember a time when Nelson Mandela was called a terrorist” says a South African who has been living in Toronto since 2000.

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Michael tasting olive oil at the Canaan Cooperative in Palestine

Michael Pott has been supporting efforts to expose human right violations in the Holy Land since participating in a Sabeel witness tour in October 2012.

This is his story:

South African apartheid ended, Zionist apartheid continues

As a student in South Africa during the 1970s, I was part of the movement committed to ending apartheid and Zionism.  While I am proud that Whites no longer oppress Blacks, I am sad that Jews still treat Palestinians as second rate citizens. A November 2012 Sabeel tour reminded me that Zionism has slipped on the world issues agenda. I hope that this brief article will help re-energize the people who fought to end apartheid to take up the Palestinian cause and help end Zionism.

 Many prominent South Africans, respected researchers and artists have said that the current conditions of the Palestinians are worse than those experienced by Blacks in South Africa under apartheid. I agree and hope you will get a chance to hear the speeches, read the research papers, and watch the movies on this subject.

 I find it difficult to understand the theologies of apartheid and Zionism. I could not accept that God instructed Whites to deliver Black people from their primitive conditions.  I also find it hard to believe that God is a real estate agent who gave the Jews the sole right to live in Israel. No matter how hard it is for me to understand a theology that promotes discrimination, I must remember that people who believe these theologies are made in the image of God and I must love them and promote nonviolent resistance.

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 Under apartheid a Black person was denied the same rights as a White citizen of South Africa. Today a Jew anywhere in the world is entitled to full citizenship of Israel while the same rights are denied a Palestinian who has lived in Israel for generations. To justify this oppression, politicians in South Africa and Israel  created phony/dual political structures. In both countries, leaders who did not support the status quo were silenced. Not too long ago when Palestinians elected politicians that Israel did not agree with, the elected leaders were arrested as terrorists and the Gaza strip was blocked. I remember a time when Nelson Mandela was called a terrorist!

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 To achieve ethnically cleansed states in Israel and South Africa, the indigenous population had to be removed and evidence of their history and culture destroyed. In South Africa, Blacks were forcibly removed from their homes to create white-only areas. To create the Jewish state, Palestinian villages, homes and land were confiscated. Settler communities continue to seize Palestinian land. Other than standing in front of a bulldozer and losing your life, how can Palestinian land be protected and their rights restored?

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 Most people who have seen the wall the Israelis are erecting acknowledge that it is to secure access to natural resources and strategic land rather than for security. During our tour we witnessed countless examples of how the wall separates people from their land, how check points are used to demonstrate Israeli domination, how families and neighbourhoods are destroyed. While not belittling the conditions under apartheid, the wall creates conditions more brutal than in South Africa. Despite the tremendous human suffering, Israel and South Africa disregarded international law, United Nations resolutions and the local courts to maintain apartheid.

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 During our tour we traveled along well maintained roads that serve Israeli settler communities in the Occupied Territories. We also traveled on neglected roads the Palestinians use.  While using these roads I remembered the differences I observed in the quality of infrastructure in South Africa upon entering a black area.  These differences serve to frustrate people, build resentment and fuel the liberation struggle.

 I remember when anyone who challenged the supremacy of the apartheid government was either banned or labeled a traitor, a communist or an agitator. Non-violent resistance to White oppression was brutally crushed. Many people have forgotten how the Sharpeville massacre resulted in the armed struggle being added to the means of achieving the liberation of South Africa.  Because of the very different levels of military power in both South Africa and Israel, the oppressed people who no longer supported nonviolence resorted to unconventional warfare (aka terrorism). During the liberation struggle in South Africa no one expected a military victory. I did not meet anyone in the Occupied Territories who thought the Israeli military would be defeated. At the same time only the naive believe that the struggle for human rights can be suppressed by firepower.

Israeli Troops Continue To Gather On Border As UN Call For Truce

 I remember the bias in my apartheid education that promoted White nationalism and demonized Blacks. Jewish children are taught to believe negative stereotypes of Palestinians (Arabs). Based on a brief visit with a Jewish family in Tel Aviv, Zionism is firmly believed and the stereotypes of Palestinians are upheld. During discussions with Palestinian groups on our tour we were told that there are currently very few programs that encourage dialogue among Jews, Christians and Muslims. This is unfortunate as I remember how important multiracial group discussions were about a just and peaceful South Africa. The KAIROS document for South Africa facilitated some of these discussions. I hope that the Palestinian KAIROS document will be as helpful.

 The systematic denial of people’s basic human rights did not work in South Africa, and it will not work in Israel. Nonviolent resistance, international sanctions, dialogue among South Africans and the armed struggle helped end apartheid. I look forward to the day all people in Israel/Palestine will enjoy the same basic rights in a secular country. Archbishop Tutu saw the end of apartheid in his lifetime. How long will it take to end Zionism?

Michael Pott graduated from Stellenbosch University in 1981.  He worked for much of his career for the Development Bank of Southern Africa: “Human rights and democracy are values I have always supported. For many years my partner and I worked to establish the democratic South Africa. When the democratically elected government chose to abandon the Reconstruction and Development Program, we decided we did not agree with the new strategy and immigrated to Canada.”

Is Israel guilty of apartheid under international law?

In 2009 the South African Human Sciences Research Council found that Israel is practicing apartheid (and colonialism). This position was confirmed by the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, which sat in Cape Town in November
2011, and most recently, in March 2012, by the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Israel is guilty of apartheid crimes not in comparison to what happened in South Africa, but in accordance to international law:

“…The inhuman acts … do not occur in random or isolated instances. They are sufficiently widespread, integrated and complementary to be described as systematic. They are also sufficiently rooted in law, public policy and formal institutions to be described as institutionalised.

[…]

Israel must cease its apartheid acts and its policies of persecution and offer appropriate assurances and guarantees of non-repetition. In addition, Israel must make full reparation for the injuries caused by its internationally wrongful acts, with regard to any damage, whether material or moral. With regard to reparation, Israel must compensate the Palestinians for the damage it has caused, with compensation to cover any financially assessable damage for loss of life, property, and loss of profits insofar as this can be established.

States and international organisations also have international responsibilities. They have a duty to cooperate bring Israel’s apartheid acts and policies of persecution to an end, including by not rendering aid or assistance to Israel and not recognising the illegal situation arising from its acts. They must bring to an end Israel’s infringements of international criminal law through the prosecution of international crimes, including the crimes of apartheid and persecution.”

Quoted from:
Russell Tribunal on Palestine.  Cape Town Session. 2011. Summary of findings [Online].

Read the full findings here: RToP Cape Town full findings