Israel and South Africa: History repeats itself

From the archive (legacy material)

Mazin Qumsiyeh | Qumsiyeh: A Human Rights Web | July 2004

On Wednesday, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to accept the ruling of the International court of Justice on Israel’s apartheid wall and demand Israel dismantle it. The vote was 150 countries in support and six against (US, Israel, Australia, and three US dependent Island states). The wall literally makes concrete the colonization of roughly 30-40% more of the 22% of Palestine that remains. Palestinians will end up with about 12-15% of their land but even this will be in disjointed large prisons/ghettos that will have no sovereignty.
Israel is in defiance of over 35 UN Security Council Resolutions and countless General Assembly resolutions. Israel was also shielded from many others by US veto or threat of veto. But this will be different. In 1971, despite US objections, the UN general Assembly asked the International Court of Justice to rule on South Africa’s violations of International law in Namibia. An International movement to dismantle apartheid in South Africa followed the ruling. The movement succeeded because of resistance within South Africa buttressed by an International boycott and divestment campaign. Already such campaigns are being initiated against Israeli apartheid.
The epicenter of this problem is the ethnic cleansing of Christian and Muslim Palestinians while opening the gate for any Jew or convert to Judaism to take their place. Some two-thirds of the 9 million Palestinians are refugees or displaced people and that number increases daily with new home demolitions. Their right to return to their homes, lands, and businesses cannot be signed away by anyone despite what Bush and Kerry have to say to woo the money and votes of the Israeli lobby. A state with different laws for different segments of its society and a “law of return” that allows people of a certain religion to acquire automatic citizenship while denying it to those born and raised there cannot be called democratic. Adding insult to injury by building large prisons/ghettos surrounded by walls, ditches, and fences is apartheid and racism, no more and no less.
Increasingly, more and more nations are resisting US diplomatic, economic and military pressures. Here in the US, many groups have resisted the pressures and choose to speak truth to power. The Green Party and Presbyterian Church community are but two examples of groups which recently joined the chorus calling on the US to stop supporting Israeli apartheid. Many mainstream US media outlets are trying in vein to shield the public from knowing the extent of Israeli atrocities or the extent of world condemnation. But any one with access to unfiltered news is amazed at the range of groups and countries have now simply declared “enough is enough.” An endless war to protect colonialism and accompanying ethnocentric separation is now waged. People around the world refuse this philosophy of “might makes rights” and proclaim in unison that humanity deserves better.
Israeli economic, physical, and psychological onslaught on native Palestinians has gone on now for six decades first with the support of the British government and now with the support of the US government. Israeli colonial activity, including the wall, violate a number of International laws and covenants: The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, UN resolutions (e.g. 242, 338, UNGA 181, 194), the Hague Regulations, the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights/Convention on Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination, UDHR, and the Convention on Rights of the Child. Israel’s human-rights violations have been condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Physicians for Human Rights, Israel’s human rights organization B’tselem, and many other organizations. US military and economic assistance ($5 billion per year) and diplomatic shield is aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is contrary to US law.
Violence always kills more native civilians than the settlers/colonialists (a ration of 5:1 in the case of Palestinians). But violence is a symptom of the disease of colonialism. Peace can only be accomplished by justice and disbanding apartheid and racist laws. Careful research debunks a lot of the Zionist myths used to prevent peace. The only viable solution is one based on the right of return for refugees and coexistence in a pluralistic and democratic society. As happened in South Africa, the logic of boycotts and divestments by the world community is materializing. In South Africa when the US and Israeli governments remained defiant to the will of the International community until they realized the tide is not stopping. History indeed repeats itself.