May 27, 2024

Palestinian and South African solidarity dates again many years, with comparable experiences of occupation, colonialism, and apartheid.

South Africans have been among the most outspoken supporters of Gazans amid Israel’s conflict [Getty/file photo]

This week, South Africa offered its case in opposition to Israel accusing it of finishing up a genocide in opposition to the folks of Gaza, amid a relentless conflict waged for over three months which has killed over 23,000 folks.

South Africa was ruled by the apartheid system for many years kind 1948 till the early Nineteen Nineties, with racial segregation and discrimination institutionalised and the white minority dominating the nation socially, politically and economically.

Israel’s occupation and wars on the Palestinian territories and its remedy of the Palestinian folks have been likened to the apartheid period in South Africa, which naturally prompted Pretoria to rally behind the Palestinian trigger over the many years as a result of comparable struggles.

However how far again does Palestinian assist in South Africa date again to? The New Arab takes a glance.

ANC, PLO solidarity

The African Nationwide Congress (ANC) has voiced solidarity with the Palestinian trigger way back to the Fifties and Nineteen Sixties, as did many African nations. A majority of the continent’s nations had been European colonies till the early Nineteen Sixties.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) labored with a lot of African revolutionary actions. The PLO and the ANC supported one another’s causes enthusiastically as they each launched into an anti-colonial wrestle, and traded weapons and resistance techniques with one another.

A big occasion which marked the long-standing friendship between South Africa and Palestine was Yasser Arafat’s assembly with Nelson Mandela in Zambia, two weeks after his launch from jail in 1990.

Arafat hugged and kissed Mandela when he noticed him, firmly confirming the solidarity between South Africa and Palestine and their wrestle for liberation within the face of apartheid.

After his launch, the South African anti-apartheid icon sported the Keffiyeh – an emblematic image of Palestinian id – on many events.

He was most famously seen sporting one in a summit in Algiers in the identical yr.

Mandela and Arafat met a number of instances after the previous was launched and have become president of South Africa, and in 1997 Mandela referred to as Arafat an “icon”.

“We all know too nicely that our freedom is incomplete with out the liberty of the Palestinians,” he added

South Africa was among the many first nations to label Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian lands as apartheid.

In 2022,  Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s minister of worldwide relations and cooperation, mentioned: “The Palestinian narrative evokes experiences of South Africa’s personal historical past of racial segregation and oppression.”

After Mandela’s dying in 2013, his household – together with grandson Mandla Mandela, have continued the South African’s legacy in expression of Palestinian solidarity.

“We’ve stood with the Palestinians and we are going to proceed to face with our Palestinian brothers and sisters,” he mentioned at a rally in October, in protest in opposition to Israel’s navy onslaught in Gaza.

Nelson Mandela in Algiers in 1990, sporting the Palestinian Keffiyeh [Getty/file photo]

Nuclear objectives: Israel and the apartheid regime

Alternatively, the apartheid regime in South Africa led by the Nationwide Social gathering had an in depth relationship with Israel.

Within the Seventies, Israel’s authorities below Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin fashioned shut ties with the regime. Then-Defence Minister Shimon Peres was instrumental in creating an alliance that helped maintain apartheid afloat whereas the worldwide neighborhood grew more and more vital and hostile.

Israel provided apartheid South Africa with navy advisors and arms and the armed forces of the 2 nations educated collectively. They cooperated of their fights in opposition to the ANC and PLO.

Over 10 years in the past, secret paperwork revealing that Israel had supplied to promote nuclear warheads to apartheid South Africa had been uncovered. Israel is at the moment believed to own between 80 and 400 nuclear warheads however has by no means publicly acknowledged this.

South Africa’s then-Defence Minister, PW Botha, had requested for the warheads in secret conferences held in 1975, with Peres providing them in “three sizes”.

The 2 had gone on to signal a lot of navy offers, thought the primary clause of such agreements was that they needed to “stay secret”.

When the paperwork had been uncovered in 2010, a spokesperson for Peres denied the allegations, calling them “baseless”.

South African paperwork confirmed that the apartheid-era navy wished the nuclear missiles as a deterrent and for potential strikes in opposition to neighbouring states.

On the time of Nelson Mandela’s dying in 2013, Shimon Peres and present PM Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t attend his funeral ceremony, underlining Israel’s sympathy with the apartheid-era regime.

Jews in opposition to apartheid

It’s value mentioning, nonetheless, that South Africa’s wrestle in opposition to apartheid wasn’t restricted to the Black inhabitants.

Lots of South Africa’s anti-apartheid activists had been white and Jewish, with many being Holocaust survivors or descendants of Holocaust victims.

Amongst them is Denis Goldberg, who as soon as likened Israel’s remedy of Palestinians and Arabs as akin to the apartheid skilled in South Africa.

Goldberg, who was one of many unique members of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC and was sentenced with Nelson Mandela, additionally criticised Israel’s wars in Lebanon.

One other Jewish activist, Ronnie Kasrils, mentioned final yr that the Israeli occupation reminded him of what was skilled throughout apartheid.

He famous Israel’s “repressiveness, cruelty, police brutality, restrictions on motion, arrests, detentions and unlawful settlers who’ve taken Palestinian land.”

South Africa solidarity amid Gaza conflict

At this time, South Africa stays probably the most outstanding defenders of the Palestinian trigger amid Israel’s conflict in Gaza.

1000’s of pro-Palestinian activists have staged frequent protests denouncing the navy onslaught. In the meantime, the South African department of the Anglican Church declared Israel an apartheid state within the wake of its repeated assaults – different high-ranking figures have echoed comparable sentiments.

The nation has additionally suspended diplomatic ties with Israel, earlier than taking the nation to the ICJ on genocide accusations. Israel has lashed out on the allegations, and laid out its defence on Friday. A ruling must be anticipated within the subsequent few weeks.


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