This year, the 14th Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) will be commemorated in nearly 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 on a daily basis by the Israeli Zionist regime.
Whenever the plight of the Palestinian people is compared with Apartheid, there are more than a few objections from the pro-Israeli community. The very idea that such a comparison can be made repulses those who support the oppressive system propagated by the Israeli regime, and passionate statements against such remarks are vented.
However, if one analyses 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 imposed in Palestine. We know that the apartheid regime implemented the Homeland Policy in South Africa. Non-white people were forced to live in specific areas resulting in family separations. All movement was restricted through the use of pass books.
A similar policy is imposed in Israel, where settlements are established among Palestinian cities and towns and then encircled by concrete walls and barbed wire completely cutting off Palestinians from other family members and even basic necessities of life such as access to hospitals.
If they need to reach a destination outside of their “homeland”, their papers must be presented and approved 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 health or even death due to these strenuous circumstances.
We can also evaluate the specific repressive policies employed by both regimes. The South African Apartheid regime worked in a very orderly and structured way. Arrest and prolonged detention of political and community leaders was the order of the day and steps were always taken in order to justify their actions.
This is precisely how the Israeli regime also works! They announce that they will terminate Hamas leaders or young Palestinians resisting occupation, and sure enough, we hear of the extermination of a leader or common person and his entire family soon thereafter.
Teenagers suspected of “terrorist” activities are savagely dragged from their homes during the middle of the night, and must endure endless torture and interrogation.
The most notable recent example is that of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi who is spending her third month in an Israeli prison for resisting the unjustified storming of her home by Israeli occupation 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 regime in South Africa saw a rapid militarization of society and the army was regularly sent into the townships to terrorize people. Having had the privilege of recently visiting Palestine myself, I can testify to the fact that the entire society is based around the military.
Army checkpoints are everywhere, and under the pretext of ensuring security, the Israeli army keeps a close and suppressive watch over Palestinians, monitoring their every activity.
P W Botha’s regime had also gained notoriety for its violent suppression of protest marches, and it is as if I was witnessing a complete repetition of history as I witnessed massive Israeli tanks rumbling toward a group of adolescent Palestinian boys trying to repel them with stones.
The similarities are so undeniable that it would seem as if the Israeli regime 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 Zionist entity, it is safe to assume that Israel was not “created” by the UN. Instead, it was the violence and terrorist acts of the Zionist invaders that led to the establishment of Israel.
It is time for the world to reject Israel as a legitimate entity of the supposed “free-world” in which we live today and support the rights of all Palestinians—both basic human rights and the rights to land that has so ruthlessly been 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, he said “The old will die and the young will forget.”
If Ben Gurion were around today, he would 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 is a member of the Media Review Network based in Johannesburg, South Africa.)