When you see the video above, you may ask yourself how and why these Palestinian communities ended up in Latin America. The video below provides some historic insight :
Ben Fogel says that Israel, as an ‘apartheid’ state, systemically oppresses Israeli and Palestinian Arabs. This, and Israel’s “economic warfare” against Palestinians, is a crime against humanity
Imagine a state prone to attacking its neighbours in clear violation of international law. A state which systemically discriminates against a substantial proportion of the population on the basis of ethnicity. A state which has been illegally occupying supposedly sovereign land for decades, a state which has forcefully relocated millions of people to tiny crops of land in which they are denied access to the outside world and the ability to meaningfully exercise self-determination. A state in which people suffer daily harassment and are forced to produce a pass at regular military checkpoints in order to travel in the land of their birth. A state in which people are excluded from access to work and economic resources purely on the basis of ethnicity, all the while this same state is championed by its defenders as a bastion of Western Civilization and democracy in a hostile region. Does this scenario sound familiar at all?
It is undeniable that these practices within the state in question, Israel, closely parallels that of another state. This latter state has now been condemned to the dustbin of history: the state of apartheid South Africa. Apartheid South Africa had a penchant for attacking its neighbours on a regular basis, occupying other country’s land, and relocating the majority of the population to economically destitute Bantustans. All the while denying people basic rights purely on the basis of an accident of birth: their perceived race. It is for these reasons that a growing proportion of the international community have condemned Israel as an apartheid state which systemically discriminates against Palestinians purely on the basis of their ethnicity, which is no more than an accident of birth.
According to international law, apartheid can be defined as a crime against humanity committed “in the context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime”.
Israel is guilty of gross human rights violations, including: indefinite detention and forcible transfer of peoples, assassination, economic warfare and numerous other actions of systemic domination taken against Palestinians and increasingly against Israeli Arabs in the name of ensuring the supremacy of a state based on Jewish ethnicity.
The state of Israel practices daily economic warfare aimed at preventing one of the already poorest areas in the region from having access to vital humanitarian goods, electricity and even rebuilding infrastructure which was destroyed in a “war”. The same war which the United Nations has described as a deliberate attempt to “humiliate and terrorise a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability”.
In the occupied territories themselves, as Israel continues to support and extend illegal settlements, the system of control implemented there includes “Jewish only settlements”, separate roads and military checkpoints. This, according to the defenders of Israel that supposedly belong to the Sovereign entity of the “Palestinian Authority”.
Thousands of Palestinians, some as young as 12 years old, are indefinitely detained every year under a brutal and authoritarian policy known as “Administrative Detention” in the name of Israel’s National Security. They have no access to legal rights. Since 1967 over 650 000 Palestinians have been “honoured guests” of the Israeli prison system, an average as high as 1 in 4 in the occupied territories. Recently Khadir Adnan, a Palestinian baker and activist, embarked on a 66 day hunger strike after being detained (not for the first time) under the Orwellian policy of Administrative Detention. The policy dates back to British colonial rule.
Khadir managed to force a deal for his release in April, but hundreds more languish behind bars facing torture and humiliation while having their stint in prison indefinitely extended. The courage of people like Khadir shows that even a state possessing (illegally) nuclear weapons and vast military capabilities, backed almost uniformly by the most powerful country on the planet can be defeated by individual acts of bravery.
Taking the bravery of people like Khadir and the example of the international campaign of solidarity that eventually helped bring the South African apartheid state to its knees, as inspiration a group of concerned students at Rhodes have come together to set up Israeli apartheid week on campus in the week of March 5-11. We are hosting this week in conjunction with over 90 cities worldwide and 11 other South African campuses. We aim to both create awareness around the issue, through a program of political education and ensure students get involved in a global campaign to fight for justice and human rights in Palestine.
Benjamin Fogel is a member of the Rhodes University organisation the Students for Social Justice (SSJ). He is also a freelance writer, and regular contributor to Amandla!
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