Bilal Randeree
Bilal Randeree

Time for South Africa to boycott apartheid Israel

President Kgalema Motlanthe, in his New Year’s message to the nation, joined the UN Secretary General in calling for the immediate stop to the Gaza attacks. He added, “The sheer savagery of the attacks launched by Israel against the residents of Gaza serves to conceal the fact that underlying this conflict is the reasonable demand for both peoples (Palestinians and Israeli’s) to live together in peace and prosperity within their internationally recognised homelands.”

“It’s the most terrifying place I’ve ever been in,” the late Edward Said once said of Gaza. “It’s a horrifyingly sad place because of the desperation and misery of the way people live. I was unprepared for camps that are much worse than anything I saw in South Africa.”

Gaza is said to be the world’s largest open-air prison, with one and a half million people squashed into an area 45km long and 10km wide, and Israeli military controlling its air space and borders. Over 80% of the population are refugees denied their legal right to return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled in 1948. This is the history of the story of Gaza: that the people who ended up on the beaches of Gaza don’t come from Gaza, but come from the very land whose more recent owners have now bombed them to death.

Watching Western news reports, one could not be blamed for thinking that history began yesterday, when a bunch of bearded anti-Semitic Islamist lunatics suddenly popped up in Gaza and began firing missiles into peace-loving, democratic Israel, only to be met with the defensive actions of the Israeli army, the fourth most powerful military in the world.

“Sometimes also civilians pay the price,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and now with the land offensive in full force, we hear that almost 600 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli attacks, including more than 200 children & 60 women. Since 2001, fewer than 20 Israelis have been killed by Qassam rockets. But as a Zionist supporter, defending the outrageous Palestinian death toll, said it was “pointless to play the numbers game”.

In January 2008, UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard stated, “a distinction must be drawn between acts of mindless terror, such as acts committed by Al Qaeda, and acts committed in the course of a war of national liberation against colonialism, apartheid or military occupation. While such acts cannot be justified, they must be understood as being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid or occupation.”

Israeli and Palestinian violence can in no way be viewed as symmetrical – individual Palestinians have chosen to resist their occupiers with largely ineffective home-made rockets, while the Israeli state has responded by collectively punishing the captive population that it illegally occupies. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, collective punishment is a war crime. As the occupier, the burden is on Israel to end its state violence.

President Kgalema Motlanthe went on to add, “The current Israeli aggression proves the folly of the notion of ‘waging the war to end all wars’. War begets war. The UN Security Council must act now to save lives and to create peace. Peace means more than absence of war … peace means the right of self-determination, it means eradication of hunger and poverty, it means free trade. It means the right to life.”

South Africa must sever diplomatic ties with Israel and implement sanctions against it until Israel complies with international law.