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Palestinians unite in post-apartheid South Africa

A group of Palestinian youth from Palestine, US, the Arab region, Europe and South Africa come together for a study programme in Johannesburg

In a move that promises to give strength to the Palestinian voice, a delegation of the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) is visiting South Africa for a ten-day study programme. The group, which arrived on 1 April and leaves on Thursday, is being hosted by the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC).

The gathering of 20 Palestinian youth organisers from the United States, Palestine, the Arab region, Europe and South Africa is being held in Johannesburg.

"We brought together 20 Palestinians from all over the world to examine our own national struggle against the backdrop of South Africa's anti-apartheid struggle," explained Rama Awad, a member of the PYM and organiser of the delegation. "As Palestinians struggling globally, we have so much to learn from the South African experience, specifically from South African resistance and the process of negotiation."

The PYM is an independent, grassroots movement of Palestinians and Arabs in exile working to defend their homeland and support the resistance and steadfastness of their people in Palestine. The purpose of the delegation is to assess the current condition of the Palestinian national struggle through a comparative lens with South Africa's anti-apartheid and anticolonial struggle, as well as ongoing challenges of economic and racial inequity.

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"We're hoping that this delegation contributes to strengthening Palestinian connectedness and mobilisation internationally, particularly among the youth, who should and will comprise our national leadership," Awad said. The PYM, she added, regards a project of this nature to be a historically and politically vital intervention that will aid the efforts of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Awad explained further that by drawing from the South African experience, Palestinians would not only learn techniques to intensify the fight against Zionist colonisation and repression, but would also better understand how to prevent further fragmentation of the Palestinian people. "The apparent void and lack of cohesion in the Palestinian national struggle, particularly since the 1993 Oslo Accords, necessitates forums for Palestinians to engage collectively and debate together."

Furthermore, it is hoped that by bringing together Palestinian youth from various socio-political and economic backgrounds who are living in eight different countries, this delegation marks a revival of the tradition of a unified Palestine and is a practical rejection of the fragmentation that racial, colonial and imperial regimes seek to impose upon Palestinians globally. Through this programme, the delegation hopes to deepen its understanding of alternative possibilities for solidarity across borders and to strengthen Palestinian engagement.

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