Israeli regime a replication of S. African apartheid?
Former South African leader Nelson Mandela once said “we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.
Last month, Ismail Coovadia, outgoing South African ambassador to Tel Aviv, said the regime is a “replication of apartheid” and built on “stolen land”.
The relation between Tel Aviv and the Apartheid regime in South Africa has even become the subject of a book — “Unspoken Alliance; Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa.
All these call for a look at the similarities between the two regimes and their cozy relations with Britain.
The Israeli regime is treating Palestinians, especially those living in the West Bank just like blacks, who were confined to Bantustans equal to West Bank enclaves and the besieged Gaza Strip by the Apartheid regime.
Palestinians are confined to security zones in the West Bank where they should have permits to pass military checkpoints while those in the Gaza Strip are under a military siege and have limited access to food, water, drugs and fuel, among others.
Palestinians are indeed under Israeli military occupation and face control of movement, physical separation from Zionists even on the roads and lack equal rights with them.
The physical separation, which is similar to the black Bantustans enforced by a variety of measures, is imposed on the Palestinians by creation of Israeli-only roads, limiting their access to lands and resources in the occupied territories and most recently by erecting of the separation barrier (otherwise known as the “Apartheid Wall”) in the West Bank.
Palestinians are also subjected to a totally different legal system than do Israeli occupiers to the extent that Palestinians are turned into secondary residents of their own lands by the occupiers, just like blacks versus white settlers during apartheid rule in South Africa.
In terms of equal rights, Palestinians also do not have the right to vote in the Israeli elections as was the case in the South African Apartheid regime.
They were given an illusion of a democracy by the Oslo Accords that enabled them to vote in the Palestinian Authority elections that brings to mind the local black polls for Bantustans, but that illusion was shattered in 2006 after Hamas won the PA elections but was not allowed to form a government.
The Israeli regime had also warm ties with the apartheid regime and the man behind the concept and implementation of apartheid, former South African Premier Hendrik Verwoerd, once said “Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state”.
The two regimes signed a military agreement in 1975 and the Zionist side helped the apartheid regime circumvent international sanctions until its end in the 1994, to the point that the UN General Assembly condemned Tel Aviv’s “collaboration with the racist regime of South Africa”.
The apartheid regime was also considered a close ally of Britain and London used its weight to prevent sanctions against the regime while maintaining extensive trade with South Africa especially by importing gold.
Later in the 1980’s, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher proved a staunch support of the racist regime describing the anti-apartheid Mandela as a terrorist in 1987.
Such a position is now clearly seen in the London-Tel Aviv ties and it goes without saying that Britain laid the cornerstone of a Zionist entity in the Palestinian lands in the first place.
In 2002, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote an article named “Apartheid in the Holy Land” that that his recent trip to Palestine had reminded him “so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa”.
He had earlier written in 1984 that the Bantustans, which were pretended to be self-governing homelands by the apartheid regime were deprived of “territorial integrity or any hope of economic viability”.
They were, he wrote, merely “fragmented and discontinuous territories, located in unproductive and marginal parts of the country” with “no control” over natural resources or access to “territorial waters”.
The description that appears to be a depiction of the occupied territories just now has been echoed by the UN Human Rights Rapporteur John Dugard, who is a South African legal professor and apartheid expert.
Dugard said “Israel’s laws and practices” in the Occupied Territories “certainly resemble aspects of apartheid”.
The analogy is also seen by British Labour MP Gerald Kaufman and former minister for international aid Clare Short who are pushing for sanctions against Tel Aviv.
The description of the situation in the occupied territories by Clare Short in the Commons back in June 26, 2007 is illuminating.
“I have followed developments in the Middle East carefully over many years, and I was well aware before my recent visit how bad things are for the Palestinian people. Nevertheless, I was deeply shocked by Israel’s blatant, brutal and systematic annexation of land, demolition of Palestinian homes, and deliberate creation of an apartheid system by which the Palestinians are enclosed in four Bantustans,
surrounded by a wall, with massive checkpoints that control all Palestinian movements in and out of the ghettos,” she said.
A key difference, however, remains, that is apartheid rulers exploited blacks as cheap laborers while Zionists are ethnically cleansing Palestinians.
A South African newspaper editor, Mondli Makhanya, put it in a nutshell after a 2008 trip to the Middle East.