Creating new perspectives since 2009

Together they arise, united against apartheid

May 16, 2024 at 12:08 pm

Pro-Palestine demonstrators gather to show solidarity with Palestinians, demanding an end to Israel’s attacks on Gaza, in New York, United States on May 6, 2024. [Selçuk Acar – Anadolu Agency]

The Palestinian struggle against Zionist settler-colonialism, from Balfour to Biden, is one of the most well-documented of all liberation struggles. Recent attempts to misrepresent its origins, development and significance have been thoroughly exposed and discredited. Israel’s narrative of the 7 October [2023] events is one episode that falls squarely into this category. Typically, it deceitfully ignores all that preceded that date. Yet, with the uprising of student and civil society bodies across the globe, the Palestinian quest for freedom has now turned a critical corner. Whether it is in the Americas, Europe, Africa or Asia, people are rising together, united against Israeli apartheid.

It was, therefore, fitting that Johannesburg, the crucible of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, should become the venue for the launch of a Global Anti-Apartheid Movement for Palestine. Last weekend, delegates from over two dozen countries met there to lay the groundwork of the initiative. They included surviving veterans of the anti-apartheid and liberation movements in South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique; representatives of political parties from Europe and South America; Muslim and church leaders from Palestine and Zimbabwe; as well as civil society activists.

South Africa uses the global justice system to face Israel’s aggression in Gaza – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

The prominent role of Christian leaders at the three-day meeting was especially telling because for far too long Christian Zionists, the likes of Biden and Scholz, have dominated the discourse on Palestine with their pernicious support for claims of a ‘chosen’ and ‘unchosen’ people. Quite the opposite, the Johannesburg meeting rejected this messianic notion of a conflict between believers and non-believers. Instead, it adopted the stance of a struggle between colonisers and colonised.

Fact-checking Biden: The myth of ‘ancient hatred for Jews’ in the Middle East debunked

For the South Africans, there remains a special sense of responsibility toward Palestine, as Nelson Mandela had insisted; that the Palestine issue is the great moral cause of our time, and that South Africa’s freedom will remain incomplete as long as Palestine is not free. Accordingly, Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor was crystal clear in her message; that revolutions are not made in conference rooms but in the field of action. As part of their revolutionary stance, Pandor recalled her country’s efforts to ensure that Israel is never given an observer seat in the African Union. It was a lonely struggle, she admitted, but in the end they succeeded.

Like South Africa, the Republic of Namibia has also been a steadfast supporter of the Palestine liberation struggle. In one of his final statements on the issue just before his death in February 2024 President Hage Geingob spoke about the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli bombardment in Gaza saying: ‘No peace-loving human being can ignore the carnage waged against Palestinians in Gaza.’

The late Namibian President, Hage Geingob quote on Palestine

Speaking at the conference on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Namibia, Justice Minister Yvonne Dausab affirmed the view that the wilful destruction of schools, libraries, universities and the killing of journalists, cannot be characterised in any other way than genocide. She poignantly recalled her country’s experience with genocide at the hands of German settlers that began in 1893. “Germany,” she said, “is now widely accused of committing its third genocide by associating itself, with Israel, who is committing the ongoing genocide in Gaza. They are yet to fully atone and complete the negotiations on reparations, with Namibia, which remains unresolved, to date.”

In the interim, Namibia is committed to leveraging its most strategic assets for the attainment of Palestine’s liberation. Whatever happens at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the country will, according to Dausab, review the possible impact of the diamond trade between Namibian and Israeli companies in relation to the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing in Palestine. “We certainly have no intention to act contrary to our stance to seek freedom for the people of Palestine.”

Read: What should we expect from the US intifada for Gaza?

Namibia’s current intervention with the ICJ has historical roots that go far deeper than the post-October genocide. Both South-West Africa (SWA), now Namibia, and Palestine became League of Nations mandated territories after World War One. While the former was granted to the Union of South Africa to be administered and prepared for independence, the latter was ceded to Britain for the same purpose. In both cases sovereignty was not transferred to either of the mandate powers; they were simply intended to be governed as a ‘sacred trust.’ Instead of allowing SWA independence, South Africa sought to annex it as part of its own territory. Similarly, Israel is now seeking to annex all of occupied Palestine. In 1971, the ICJ ruled in an advisory opinion that South Africa’s presence in SWA was illegal and it was under obligation to end its occupation. Ultimately, it was the combination of UN sanctions, international isolation and the armed struggle of the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) that led to the independence of the country from South Africa in 1990 under the name Namibia. The Palestine struggle is now firmly positioned on a similar trajectory.

Inspired by the global Anti-Apartheid Movement that ended apartheid in South Africa and Namibia, the Johannesburg Declaration seeks to continue on the same course against Israel’s Settler-Colonialism, Apartheid and Genocide. While governments of the Global North will leave no stone unturned to disrupt and frustrate its efforts, there is an overwhelming sense that the Palestinian struggle for liberation has entered a new phase; one that will be determined by the global solidarity movement on the streets, on campuses, in dockyards, sporting arenas and cultural theatres, all toward one goal, the total isolation and boycott apartheid Israel. The world has finally arisen together, becoming ever more united against Israel’s settler-colonialism and genocide in Palestine.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.