This year, the 14th Israeli Apartheid Week will be commemorated in over 200 cities around the world. Commonly referred to as IAW, I as a South African do not think that a more apt name could have been chosen to highlight the atrocities carried out by the Israeli Zionist regime on a daily basis. Whenever the plight of the Palestinian people is compared with Apartheid, there are more than a few strong objections from the Israeli community. The very idea that such a comparison can be made repulses those who support the oppressive system propagated by the Israeli government, and passionate statements against such remarks are sure to be vented. However, if one had to analyse the situation from a historic and non-biased view, the similarities of Apartheid and the situation in Israel are in actual fact startling and simply cannot be ignored.
First, we can critically review the restriction policies that were applied in the old South Africa to those presently carried out in Palestine. We know that the government implemented the Homeland Policy here in South Africa. Non-white people were forced to live in specific areas while families were separated and all movements were restricted through the use of pass books. A similar policy is witnessed in Israel, where settlements are established amongst Palestinian cities and then encircled by concrete walls and barbed wire completely cutting off Palestinians from other family members and even basic necessities such as access to hospitals. If they need to reach any destination outside of their “homeland”, their papers must be presented and approval by Israeli soldiers which often takes hours or, more probably, never happens. Countless horror stories have been reported where Palestinians, often children and the elderly, have suffered great deterioration to their health or even death due to these strenuous circumstances.
We can also evaluate the specific repressive policies employed by both governments. The Apartheid government worked in a very orderly and structured way. The arrest and detention of political and community leaders was the order of the day and suitable steps were always taken in order to justify their actions. This is precisely how the Israeli government works! They announce that they will terminate Hamas leaders or young Palestinians resisting occupation, and truth be told we are sure to hear of the extermination of a leader or common man and his entire family soon after that. Teenagers who are suspected of “terrorist” activities are savagely dragged from their homes during the middle of the night, and must endure torture and interrogation beyond comprehension. The most notable and current example of such is
17 year old Ahed Tamimi, who spends her third month in an Israeli prison for resisting the unjustified storming of her home by Israeli forces. If these young Palestinians are lucky, they will be released years later, not charged but changed for the rest of their lives. The National Party government saw a rapid militarization of society and the army was sent into the townships regularly. Having had the privilege of recently visiting Palestine myself, I can testify to the fact that the entire society is based around the military. Armed forces patrols are set up everywhere, and under the illusion of ensuring security, the Israeli army keeps a close and suppressive watch over the Palestinian people, monitoring their everyday activities. PW Botha’s government also became famous for their violent suppression of protest marches, and it is as if I am witnessing a complete repetition of history as I witness powerful Israeli tanks encroaching towards a group of adolescent Palestinian boys trying to repel them with stones.
I sometimes think to myself that the similarities are so undeniable, that it would seem as if the Israeli government has used the laws of Apartheid as a direct basis for their suppressive system of rule over the Palestinian population. It is correct that the occupation by Israel of 78% of original Palestinian land by the end of 1949 was indeed a Nakba- Catastrophe. Through the implementation of the Apartheid-like laws we see imposed against the Palestinians today and the countless massacres of innocent civilians that took place in order to establish the country of Israel, it is safe to assume that Israel was not “created” by the UN. Instead, it was the violence and terrorist acts of the Zionist occupation that led to the formation of Israel. It is time that the world recognises the need to reject Israel as a legitimate country of the supposed “free-world” in which we live today and support the rights of all Palestinians- both basic human rights and the rights that they have to the land so ruthlessly taken from them.
David Ben Gurion, the first Israeli Prime Minister, stated in 1948:
“We must do everything to insure they (the Palestinians) never do return.” Assuring his fellow Zionists that Palestinians will never come back to their homes, “The old will die and the young will forget.” I wish Ben Gurion were still around, if only to see that in 2018, justice loving people globally have not forgotten the catastrophe imposed upon the Palestinians, and IAW will continue to be commemorated until truth, justice and human rights are achieved for all.
Dr. Aayesha Soni.
Media Review Network.