by Iqbal Jassat
As most of the world recoils in horror watching deliberately calculated Israeli brutality and cold- blooded killing of Palestinians, many who are outraged would be asking: when will zionist-led pogroms end?
After all, Palestinians have for decades now, faced the savagery of zionist policies by Israeli thugs who masquerade as “leaders” of a mythical “democracy”.
The tragedy that befell Palestine during the period leading up to 1948 and beyond, resulting in the displacement and dispossession of millions of Palestinians, is defined as Al-Nakba or “Catastrophe”.
Today, 75 years later, while atrocities against Palestinians continue unabated and with impunity, it is scandalous that some people see it fit to celebrate settler-colonialism which possesses all the hallmarks of genocide.
Zionism, an ideology rooted in racism and apartheid, has been and remains at the core of Israel’s politico-military suppression of fundamental human rights.
Responsible for atrocious war crimes and the imposition of Jewish supremacism, zionist Israel not only disregards global conventions, but arrogantly defies it.
Indeed, decades of defiance of the United Nations charter on human rights as well as violation of the provisions of the Geneva Convention, have been enabled, by the protection Israel unjustly enjoys courtesy the United States of America.
The “green light” granted to it by the US to commit barbaric and heinous crimes against Palestinians in the OPT, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon as well as being placed on a war footing against the Islamic Republic of Iran, stems from what many analysts have described as the disproportionate power wielded by pro-Israel lobby groups in America.
Though similar pressure groups exist in South Africa, who shamelessly defend Israel’s violations and denial of Palestinian rights.
Attempts to replicate their counterparts in the US in swinging South Africa’s policies in favour of the apartheid regime have not been successful but remain ongoing.
Their desperation to curb South Africa’s progressive stance in defence of Palestine relies upon invoking the bogey of “antisemitism”.
This whip has been used to silence critics across America and Europe, and is wielded here too as a tool to intimidate, obfuscate and threaten solidarity movements.
However, such puerile attempts to conceal the ugly reality of settler-violence and state-terrorism that has become a daily routine of military raids, home demolitions, gestapo-style arrests and detentions, are bound to fail.
On the contrary, civil rights movements dedicated to justice for Palestine have increased the tempo to isolate Israel.
Support from trade unions, media commentators, political pundits, academics and a few courageous political parties in parliament is evidence of the deep-felt outrage against apartheid Israel.
When and what is required to end zionist settler-colonialism are key questions as commemoration events mark 75 years of ethnic-cleansing, occupation and incremental genocide - Al-Nakba.
Given that the heart of Palestinian resistance is located in and around Masjid Al-Aqsa in Occupied Al-Quds (Jerusalem), revered by the global Muslim community as Islam’s sacred citadel, liberation of Palestine remains connected to its inviolability.
Armed struggle within the belly of the beast in the Occupied West Bank has emerged as a focal point of resistance that not only has galvanised armed-resistance in the rest of 1948 Palestine but also inspired millions across the world.
The storming of Al-Aqsa and ruthless violence against women, children and the elderly engaged in worship during Ramadan by heavily armed zionist troops, met with a barrage of rockets fired not only from Gaza, but also from South Lebanon and Syria, to the “shock and awe” of Israel.
The deterrence enforced by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah, spells out in no uncertain terms that armed resistance will neither tolerate crossing of red lines nor settler-colonialism until all of Palestine gains freedom and justice.
South Africa and in particular the ANC-led government will have to acknowledge that as Palestine inches closer to liberation, they need to move beyond mere words of condemnation by accelerating support for the resistance by all possible means.
An immediate task for the Ministry of Justice is to probe why no decision has yet been forthcoming to complaints lodged to the National Prosecution Authority against South African citizens engaged in terrorist-warfare as deployees in Israel’s army.
This urgent quest for justice follows on the heels of similar complaints lodged earlier including the comprehensive complaint known as the “Gaza Docket”.
Civil society initiatives to introduce legislation in promoting the protection of Palestinian rights, have to be given serious consideration. Extensive research and drafting of a potential bill known as IPPSRA which stands for “Implementation and Protection of Palestinian Solidarity Rights” by human rights attorney Ziyaad E. Patel, is a perfect specimen to promote.
In addition, procrastination by the Ministry of Home Affairs in relation to lifting unwarranted visa restrictions imposed on Palestinians, must be called out as unfair and discriminatory.
And visa-free entry to Israelis must be reversed as a matter of priority.
An immediate implementation of the ANC resolution related to downgrade of SA’s embassy in Tel Aviv, needs to be followed through by the expulsion of Israel’s envoy in Pretoria and the banishment of all apartheid-Israel activities.
On Al-Nakba day, business conglomerates as well as multinational corporations need to be reminded that their economic ties with Israeli-based companies are in conflict with sound ethical practice.
To remain blind-folded in pursuing profits via trade despite the fact that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, is to sustain a range of crimes against humanity.
In commending SA Rugby Union for barring Israel at its recent tournament and standing firm against zionist pressure, it is equally important for all SA sporting codes to pronounce their unequivocal denunciation of apartheid Israel and suspension of ties with settler-colonialism.
While Palestine’s anti-apartheid movement is characterised by a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) paradigm, it is imperative for it to reassess its Gandhi-styled passivism.
It can and must draw lessons from South Africa’s freedom struggle in the way it evolved from passive resistance to full-fledged armed struggle.
Indeed, the history of liberation movements engaged in hard-fought anti-colonial struggles—exactly what Palestine is up against—teaches us that resistance is multi-pronged.
Nakba Day deserves no less.
Iqbal Jassat is Exec at the Media Review Network in Johannesburg, South Africa