The Nakba’s 75th anniversary challenges the world to defeat settler-colonialism in Palestine

Iqbal Jassat

As most of the world recoils in horror at the latest demonstration of Israeli brutality and cold-blooded killings of Palestinians, many people are asking when these Zionist-led pogroms will end. It’s not before time. The Palestinians have for decades now faced Zionist savagery by Israeli thugs who masquerade as leaders of “the only democracy” in the Middle East.

The tragedy that befell Palestine during the period before and since 1948, resulting in the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians and their descendants being condemned to live forever as refugees, is known as the Nakba (“Catastrophe”). Today, 75 years later, atrocities against Palestinians continue unabated and with impunity, so it is scandalous that some people see it fit to celebrate settler-colonialism which carries with it the hallmarks of genocide.

Zionism is an ideology rooted in racism which has created a state which has passed the legal threshold for being defined as apartheid. The pernicious ideology has been and remains at the core of Israel’s political-military suppression of fundamental human rights in occupied Palestine.

Zionist Israel carries out war crimes and crimes against humanity as it treats international laws and conventions with contempt. Decades of defiance of the UN Charter and human rights conventions, as well as the provisions of the Geneva Convention, have only been possible because Israel is protected at every level by the US, which has used its Security Council veto dozens of times to allow the settler-colonial state to act with impunity.

Washington’s “green light” allows Israel to commit barbaric and heinous crimes against Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as Syria and Lebanon. It is also on a war footing against the Islamic Republic of Iran. All of this barbarism stems from what many analysts have described as the disproportionate power wielded by pro-Israel lobby groups in America.

Although similar pressure groups exist in South Africa, and they defend shamelessly Israeli human rights and international law violations and denial of Palestinian rights, attempts to imitate their counterparts in the US and swing Pretoria towards the apartheid regime have not been successful. Nevertheless, such efforts remain ongoing.

Such is the desperation of these groups to curb South Africa’s progressive stance in defence of Palestine, that they invoke “anti-Semitism”. This allegation has been used to silence critics of Israel across the US and Europe, and is weaponised in South Africa to intimidate, obfuscate and threaten Palestine solidarity movements.

However, such puerile attempts to conceal the ugly reality Israel’s colonial-settler-violence and state terrorism that has become routine through military raids, home demolitions, gestapo-style arrests and detentions, are bound to fail. Civil rights movements dedicated to justice for Palestine have increased the tempo lately to isolate Israel. Support from civil society, trade unions, media, 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 which are ongoing in a seemingly never-ending Nakba.

Given that the heart of Palestinian resistance is located in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, revered by the global Muslim community as Islam’s sacred citadel, the liberation of Palestine remains connected to the inviolability of the Noble Sanctuary.

Armed struggle within the belly of the beast in the occupied West Bank has emerged as a focal point of resistance that has not only galvanised armed-resistance in the rest of Palestine occupied since 1948, but also inspired millions across the world. The storming of Al-Aqsa by heavily armed Zionist forces and their ruthless violence against women, children and the elderly engaged in worship during Ramadan was 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 Hezbollah spells out in no uncertain terms that armed resistance will neither tolerate the crossing of red lines nor settler-colonialism itself until all of Palestine is freed from injustice.

South Africa and, in particular, the ANC-led government, will have to acknowledge that as Palestine inches closer to liberation, the country needs to move beyond mere words of condemnation by accelerating support for legitimate resistance by all possible means.

An immediate task for the Ministry of Justice must be to probe why no decision has yet been forthcoming about complaints lodged to the National Prosecution Authority against South African citizens engaged in terrorism as serving members of the so-called Israel Defence Forces. This urgent quest for justice follows on the heels of similar complaints lodged earlier, including the comprehensive “Gaza Docket”.

Civil society initiatives to introduce legislation promoting the protection of Palestinian rights, have to be given serious consideration. Extensive research and drafting of a potential bill known as IPPSRA — “Implementation and Protection of Palestinian Solidarity Rights” — by human rights attorney Ziyaad E Patel, is a perfect specimen to promote.

Moreover, 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. Visa-free entry for Israelis must be reversed as a matter of priority.

The implementation of the ANC resolution to downgrade South Africa’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 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 be blind to this in the pursuit of profits despite the fact that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, is to sustain a range of crimes against humanity.

In commending the South African Rugby Union for barring Israel from its recent tournament and standing firm against Zionist pressure, it is equally important for all other sporting codes in South Africa to denounce apartheid Israel unequivocally and suspend 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 should draw lessons from South Africa’s freedom struggle in the way that it evolved from passive resistance to full-fledged armed struggle. The history of liberation movements engaged in hard-fought anti-colonial struggles — which is what the Palestinians are engaged in legitimately, according to international law — teaches us that resistance is multi-pronged.

Nakba Day deserves no less than any and all of these moves by the South African government.

(Source: MEMO)