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Following on from my objections in part one and two, I reject Christian Zionism because of its unconditional support for the current Zionist State of Israel. I find this to be objectionable on political grounds as I firmly believe Zionist Israel to be an Apartheid state which is involved in a colonialist mission in the West Bank and Gaza. This colonialist project is fundamentally at odds with International Law and ethically bankrupt, as it is a clear violation of any reasonable concept of human rights. As an occupying force in the West Bank, and the ultimate authority over the “open air prison” that is Gaza, the Zionists have violated every law governing the behaviour of occupying forces as laid out by the United Nations.
Objections to my position usually start with the fact that anyone who believes in democracy should support Israel, as it a democracy: the only democracy in the Middle East. One should note that at the writing of this post, the western world is celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela. Mandela fought against apartheid in South Africa in the name of freedom and democracy for all South Africans. As noted in previous posts, Mandela fundamentally supported the cause of the Palestinian people and identified his struggle with that of the Palestinians. Mandela declared the policies of Israel regarding the Palestinian people as definitely being a form of apartheid. Alan Boesak, a long time South African opponent of apartheid said that the system of oppression in the West Bank and Gaza was worse than the system in South Africa.
The claim that Israel is a democracy needs to be looked at carefully, but even if Israel is a democracy, why does that mean that its treatment of Palestinians is ethically sound? I do not remotely believe that Israel’s violations of International Law and human rights are the worst of any country in the world. But that hardly means that I should therefore support them and not be critical of them! I believe that during World War 2, Italy was not as guilty of human rights violations as Nazi Germany, but that hardly means that I support Mussolini!
As a school teacher, I routinely hear the objection, to my rebuke of a student caught off task, that, “I should be picking on other students, that are involved in greater wrong doing”. This is not an argument from the student that he/she is innocent, but, in 99.9% of cases, is an attempt to evade responsibility by shifting attention away from the issue of the student’s behaviour in the first place. I believe the Zionist state of Israel makes very similar claims. When caught doing what is universally recognised as being against the law, simply finding someone else who is doing something worse and allegedly getting away with it, is not an ethically sound response. Certainly I think it will hold no weight in God’s eyes.
But is Israel a democracy? The answer is yes and no. Mainly no, I believe. The reason for this is that being a democracy goes beyond the simple idea of giving everyone a vote. Democracy is about real power sharing. It’s true that Arabs inside the Zionist State do have the right to vote. The problem is that the state of Israel has been put together in such a way so that it is impossible for Arabs in Israel ever to have real power at the ballet box. Israel accomplished this by firstly expelling hundreds of thousands of Arabs from their homes within the borders of the newly formed state of Israel in 1948. This made sure that Israel now had a majority of Jews within their borders. They now made this majority permanent by enacting laws that basically forbade anyone but Jewish people to migrate to Israel. Hence the Zionists had created their dream of a majority Jewish state that would be owned by Jews in a way that non-Jews could never hope to attain no matter how many generations of their ancestors had lived in the land. The Zionist State is not a state for all its citizens. It is a Jewish state. It conveys rights and privileges to Jews that non-Jews can never have.
It is worth noting that other nations, like Iran for example, have Jewish people as members of their parliament, yet I doubt that anyone would claim that Iran is a democracy.
If Arabs had real political power in Israel to change their situation, I doubt that they would ever need to resort to violent resistance. They would not need to. But with a Zionist State with a permanent majority of Jewish people (at the very least 80%) no real change can ever be made at the ballot box. Israel is a Zionist State and this Zionist ideology is not up for grabs at polling booths in Israel on voting day, it never can be, the type of “democracy” that exists in Israel has seen to that.
I wonder who the Zionist State of Israel will send to South Africa for the ceremonies surrounding the funeral of Nelson Mandela? The following article was written by a friend of mine, Kim Bullimore and posted on her blog, Live from Occupied Palestine,http://livefromoccupiedpalestine.blogspot.com.au.
Nelson Mandela, Palestine and the fight against apartheid
By Kim Bullimore: 6 December 2013: Live from Occupied Palestine.
Nelson Mandela 1918 -2013
Nelson Mandela, a courageous resistance fighter is dead. Mandela died on December 5, aged 95. He devoted his entire life to the struggle for his people’s freedom, spending 27 years in prison for both his unarmed and armed resistance to South Africa’s brutal and racist apartheid regime.
With the death of this courageous resistance fighter, we are now greeted with a sickening spectacle which whitewashes his history, the history of the South African anti-apartheid struggle and the fact that Mandela was first and foremost a freedom fighter. In the last 36 hours, politicians and commentators in Australia, the USA, the UK, Israel, Europe and elsewhere, many of whom who had previously labelled him a terrorist and supported his incarceration, are now pretending they did no such thing and are falling over themselves to laud him as a hero, a great man and a man of peace.
Their eulogies whitewash the South African anti-apartheid struggle and Mandela’s actions as a freedom fighter. They have rinsed clean, from their histories of him, that Mandela was a radical, who worked with and was inspired by communists both in South Africa and Latin America (Today, in the wake of Mandela’s death, the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) have issued a statement confirming that Mandela was a member of the SACP in 1962 when he was arrested and imprisoned – something which had been previously denied for political reasons). In order to create a whitewashed caricature of Mandela, these revisionists are attempting to rewrite history and the fact that Mandela’s resistance and struggle against apartheid encompassed all forms of disobedience and defiance, both violent and non-violent.
As a leader of the ANC Youth, which he help found with Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu in 1944, Mandela helped convince the ANC to adopt mass militant non-violent tactics, which included boycotts and strikes. In the wake of the brutality of the 1960 Sharpville massacre which saw 69 unarmed Black South African’s gunned down by the regime, Mandela co-founded (with Walter Sisulu and Joe Slovo) the Umkhonto we Sizwe or Spear of the Nation which carried out sabotage against both military and civilian infrastructure in South Africa. In founding Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1961, Mandela took inspiration from the revolutionary struggle taking place in Cuba, in particular from Fidel Castro and Che Guevara’s 26th of July Movement.
Mandela recognised the importance of all forms of struggle against the violent oppression being imposed on his people. In 1980, as the non-violent mass struggle once again began to flourish, both inside South Africa and internationally in the form of the boycott and sanctions anti-apartheid solidarity movement, he wrote in a smuggled message from his prison cell that “between the hammer of armed struggle and the anvil of united mass action, the enemy will be crushed.”
“our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”
And today, as these hypocritical revisionist politicians and commentators eulogise Mandela, they also seek to scrub from Mandela’s history his lifelong and steadfast support for the Palestinian people and their struggle. Just as they were complicit in supporting South Africa’s apartheid regime, many of these same revisionist politicians and commentators are today complicit in supporting Israel’s apartheid regime.
In 1948, the same year as the Palestinian Nakba which saw Zionist militia ethnically cleanse more 750,000 Palestinians from their homeland and destroy more than 500 Palestinian villages, South Africa formally adopted the apartheid regime. Throughout the long years of Apartheid in South African, as Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s notes in The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa (2010), there were close military and trade ties between these two colonial oppressors. It is unsurprising therefore that there would be a close comradeship between the two struggles, viewing their struggles as one and the same: a struggle against colonialism, oppression and racism. For Mandela and the ANC, Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians were “comrades in arms” and they supported their struggle against the Israeli state – both armed and unarmed.
The comradeship between the two struggles was highlighted by Mandela, just sixteen days after he was released from 27 long years in prison in 1990. In February 1990, Mandela met with Yasser Arafat in Lusaka in Zambia. At Lusaka airport, Mandela embraced Arafat and reiterated his support for the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian struggle telling the media that Arafat was “fighting against a unique form of colonialism and we wish him success in his struggle”. He went on to say, “I I believe that there are many similarities between our struggle and that of the PLO” stating “We live under a unique form of colonialism in South Africa, as well as in Israel, and a lot flows from that.”
Eight months later, during his three day visit to Australia in October1990, Mandela reiterated his support for the Palestinian struggle and the PLO saying, “We identify with them [the Palestinians] because we do not believe it is right for the Israeli government to suppress basic human rights in the conquered territories.”
Mandela told the Australian media, “We agree with the United Nations that international disputes should be settled by peaceful means. The belligerent attitude which is adopted by the Israeli government is to us unacceptable.”
He went on to tell the Australia media that the ANC did not consider the PLO a terrorist group, stating “If one has to refer to any of the parties as a terrorist state, one might refer to the Israeli government, because they are the people who are slaughtering defenceless and innocent Arabs in the occupied territories, and we don’t regard that as acceptable.”
In 1997, in a speech on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Mandela once again spoke in support of the Palestinian struggle stating “it behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice”. It was important, said Mandela, for South Africans “to add our own voice to the universal call for Palestinian self-determination and statehood” because “we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians; without the resolution of conflicts in East Timor, the Sudan and other parts of the world”.
Worse than Apartheid
Increasingly over the last decade, more and more South Africans who were active in the South African anti-Apartheid campaign have joined Mandela and have spoken out in support of the Palestinian struggle. In many cases, they have denounced Israel apartheid as being far worse than South African Apartheid.
Not only has Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu equated Israel’s policies and practices to Apartheid, in 2008 veteran South African anti-apartheid campaigners visited the Occupied West Bank and declared what they saw as worse than the apartheid they had experienced in their own country.
One of the participants who visited the West Bank as part of the trip, Mondli Makhanya, the editor-in-chief of the Sunday Times of South Africa, told veteran Israeli reporter, Gideon Levy, “When you observe from afar you know that things are bad, but you do not know how bad. Nothing can prepare you for the evil we have seen here. In a certain sense, it is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of the apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of apartheid”.
Another participant in the trip, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, a member of the South African parliament, who had been imprisoned during the apartheid era for her opposition to the South African apartheid regime told Levy, “It is hard for me to describe what I am feeling. What I see here is worse than what we experienced”. When asked by Levy why she thought it was worse than South African apartheid, Madlala-Routledge explained, “The absolute control of people’s lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw”.
In November 2011, the Reverend Allan Aubrey Boesak, a veteran of the South African anti-apartheid struggle reiterated the assertion that Israeli apartheid is far worse than South African apartheid. In an interview with Middle East Monitor, Boesak, explain that “It is worse, not in the sense that apartheid was not an absolutely terrifying system in South Africa, but in the ways in which the Israelis have taken the apartheid system and perfected it, so to speak; sharpened it”. Boesak went onto explain:
“For instance, we had the Bantustans and we had the Group Areas Act and we had the separate schools and all of that but I don’t think it ever even entered the mind of any apartheid planner to design a town in such a way that there is a physical wall that separates people and that that wall denotes your freedom of movement, your freedom of economic gain, of employment, and at the same time is a tool of intimidation and dehumanisation. We carried passes as the Palestinians have their ID documents but that did not mean that we could not go from one place in the city to another place in the city. The judicial system was absolutely skewed of course, all the judges in their judgments sought to protect white privilege and power and so forth, and we had a series of what they called “hanging judges” in those days, but they did not go far as to openly, blatantly have two separate justice systems as they do for Palestinians [who are tried in Israeli military courts] and Israelis [who are tried in civil, not military courts]. So in many ways the Israeli system is worse”.
The ANC and South Africa’s support for the Palestinian BDS campaign
In 2012, Mandela’s party, the African National Congress (ANC) which is also the ruling party of South Africa, formally endorsed and adopted as part of its official policy, the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. In 2005 Palestinian civil society issued a call to the international community for a program and campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to be applied against Israel as a way to pressure Israel to end its violations of international law, respect Palestinian human rights and engage in fair negotiations for a just peace.
The ANC Conference not only formally endorsed the Palestinian BDS campaign but also adopted a resolution which specifically called for “all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel to engage with the Palestinian people to reach a just solution.”
The ANC conference also adopted two other resolutions relating to Palestine and Israel. One of the resolutions reiterated the ANC’s long held stance in support of the Palestinian struggle, stating “The ANC is unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel.”
In addition, the conference also adopted a resolution condemning Israel’s treatment of African refugees stating “The ANC abhors the recent Israeli state-sponsored xenophobic attacks and deportation of Africans and request that this matter should be escalated to the African Union”
The adoption of the resolutions, formalised the position already held by the ANC and the South African government. Two months before the conference, South Africa’s deputy foreign minister Ebrahim Ebrahim had noted that: “Because of the treatment and policies of Israel towards the Palestinian people, we strongly discourage South Africans from going there.”
In April 2013, the South Africa’s International Relations Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane reiterated the ruling ANC’s position, saying “the struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle”.
Today, Mandela is honoured by both those in struggle and by those in power. Once, however, he and his struggle were demonised and hated by those in power, including many of those same people now praising him today. And while mealy mouthed politicians and hypocritical commentators sing Mandela’s praise today, attempting to whitewash is legacy, they will not succeed in rewriting history.
For those in struggle, Mandela’s legacy will always be one of a freedom fighter. It will always be one of a courageous resistance fighter who waged an uncompromising struggle against colonialism, racism and oppression. His legacy to those of us in struggle will be that he was an internationalist, who saw his people’s freedom tied up with the freedom of others – who saw his people’s struggle as being no different from the struggle of the Palestinian people and all those struggling against colonialism, oppression and tyranny.
The following article was sent to me by Australians for Palestine http://australiansforpalestine.com
Editor’s note: It is quite incredible how Western governments honour people like Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu for their courage and determination in their monumental struggle to obtain freedom for their people in Apartheid South Africa, but when these same South Africans and many others call attention to Israel’s apartheid policies and practices against the Palestinians, they are ignored as if they have nothing to add from all their bitter experiences. No doubt the words of Reverend Allan Boesak below, who was one of the many speaking out against Apartheid South Africa, will also fall on deaf ears. However, if his moving words and deep understanding of the issues fail, then it is not because he doesn’t have the power to move, but that regrettably our politicians, “intellectuals”, journalists, and sad to say, even ordinary hard-working people have all become hostage to self-interest and privileged lifestyles and ambitions that leave no room for the oppressed and downtrodden anywhere, let alone in Palestine. Those of you who call yourselves Christian ought to seriously pause and reflect on what that actually means for you – going to church and saying prayers will not redeem you from your neglect of other human beings – but really religion shouldn’t be the issue at all. We are only what we are by an accident of birth: that is what should make us sensitive to every person on this planet regardless of beliefs and persuasions. No one knows when one day, we who are privileged now, may well find ourselves unable to climb out of the encroaching swamp without the helping hand of a passing stranger for whom hopefully compassion will have no boundaries.
INTERVIEW: Revd Allan Boesak calls Israeli apartheid “more terrifying” than South Africa ever was.
Dr Hanan Chehata interviews Revd Allan Boesak
MEMO – Middle East Monitor
17 November 2011
The Reverend Allan Aubrey Boesak is a veteran of the South African anti-apartheid struggle. He is the former president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and is a signatory of the South African Christian response to the Kairos Palestine Document. This year he gave expert testimony at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine session in Cape Town, at which he spoke to MEMO’s Hanan Chahata.
Hanan Chahata: You were one of the signatories of the South African Christian response to the Kairos Palestine Document. In this you said that the Palestinian experience of apartheid is “in its practical manifestation even worse than South African apartheid”. Can you explain what you meant by this?
Allan Boesak: It is worse, not in the sense that apartheid was not an absolutely terrifying system in South Africa, but in the ways in which the Israelis have taken the apartheid system and perfected it, so to speak; sharpened it. For instance, we had the Bantustans and we had the Group Areas Act and we had the separate schools and all of that but I don’t think it ever even entered the mind of any apartheid planner to design a town in such a way that there is a physical wall that separates people and that that wall denotes your freedom of movement, your freedom of economic gain, of employment, and at the same time is a tool of intimidation and dehumanisation. We carried passes as the Palestinians have their ID documents but that did not mean that we could not go from one place in the city to another place in the city. The judicial system was absolutely skewed of course, all the judges in their judgements sought to protect white privilege and power and so forth, and we had a series of what they called “hanging judges” in those days, but they did not go far as to openly, blatantly have two separate justice systems as they do for Palestinians [who are tried in Israeli military courts] and Israelis [who are tried in civil, not military courts]. So in many ways the Israeli system is worse.
Another thing that makes it even worse is that when we fought our battles, even if it took us a long time, we could in the end muster and mobilise international solidarity on a scale that enabled us to be more successful in our struggle. The Palestinians cannot do that. The whole international community almost conspires against them. The UN, which played a fairly positive role in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, takes the disastrous position of not wanting to offend its strong members like the United States who protect Israel. So even in the UN, where international law ought to be the framework wherein all these things are judged, where international solidarity is not an assumption but is supposed to be the very foundation upon which the UN builds its views on things and its judgements as to which way it goes, the Palestinians don’t even have that.
Palestinians are mocked in a way that South Africans were not. In a sense, the UN tried in our case to follow up on its resolutions to isolate the apartheid regime. Here, now, they make resolutions against Israel one after the other and I don’t detect even a sense of shame that they know there is not going to be any follow up. Under Reagan the United States was pretty blatant in its so called constructive engagement programme and in its support for the white regime in South Africa, but what the United States is doing now in the week that UNESCO took the decision to support the Palestinian bid for a seat in the United Nations, to withdraw all US financial support; to resort immediately to economic blackmail, that is so
scandalous. So in all those ways I think we are trying to say that what is happening in Israel today is a system of apartheid that in its perfection of that system is more terrifying in many ways than apartheid in South Africa ever was.
HC: During an event celebrating black history month earlier this year you likened the US Civil Rights Movement to the South African struggle against apartheid. Would you liken both of those struggles to the Palestinian struggle today?
AB:I have just finished a chapter for a book that I hope will be out next year in which I speak of the similarities between the civil rights struggle, the anti-apartheid struggle, and the Arab Spring and the lessons we can draw from them.
I think it is fascinating in so many different ways. It’s almost as if I personally lived through the difficult choices that people have to make in North Africa and in the Middle East every day. As every day goes by my admiration for them grows. I see what is happening in Syria and in Yemen and that there is still relatively little violence on the part of the protesters. You can still see that their basic fundamental goal is to get rid of the tyranny through non-violent protest and it is amazing to watch. I do believe that there is such a thing as historic moments that never disappear from which people learn. South Africa learned so much from Ghandi in India; Martin Luther King learned from Ghandi; we learned from Martin Luther King and we had our own traditions and I’m sure the young Arab people who saw some of these things happening are drawing on that. 1994 (when the first democratic government of South Africa was formed) and the 1980s are not that far behind us. Many of those people who are participating today were sat in front of their televisions watching when we were in the streets day after day after day braving the dogs and the guns and the tear gas, burying our people, funeral after funeral. When I see the funerals taking place in the Arab world I think of the time Archbishop Tutu and I buried 27 people (actually 42 were killed but the police would not release the other bodies); I think of that when I see bodies being carried out to be buried Friday after Friday in the Arab world.
Our struggle had all sorts of political ideologies but it was never completely secularised. The faith, as Archbishop Tutu said this morning, that there is a God of justice who will help us sustain the struggle is an amazing thing. When I see all those thousands of Muslims go down and bow down before Allah I must say, when I saw it for the first time I looked at my wife and I said, I tell you now, if people sustain that, all those tyrants will be quaking in their boots and they know that they will not be able to hold out against that power.
I believe that, just as a few years ago the civil rights struggle in the United States, and then more especially the anti-apartheid struggle, became the moral standard by which the world was judged in terms of its taking sides in terms of right or wrong and getting on the right side of the human revolution for humanity and for justice and for the restoration of dignity
and for the future for children; that particular moment in history where the world is invited to participate in this revolution for the sake of the good and for the sake of the future and for the sake of justice; and where that decision hinges upon evil and wrong on the one side and justice and right on the other side and will mark the world in a way that says this is a litmus test for international solidarity and for international law and justice, that test today comes from the Arab Spring.
HC: The Arab Spring or Palestine?
AB: You have the Arab Spring taking place but at the hub of it all is Palestine. I believe that what is happening now would not have happened if it had not been for the perennial struggle of the Palestinian people. They may not be mentioned every time but I can tell you now that if it was not for them, nothing like the Arab Spring would ever have happened in the Middle East.
Just as we thought, when we watched Martin Luther King or when we went through our own struggle, that the face and direction of history and the world, whether they like it in the West or not and whether or not they come to it with hidden agendas for the sake of greed or whatever, it does not really matter; what is happening in the end is that something fundamental is changing in the Middle East and thereby something fundamental is changing in the history of the world. Those people, I believe, who are going through that revolution now will, for instance, never make the same mistakes that their parents and grandparents made, thinking that the West is always good and that the deals we make with the West are always for the good of our people. There is a new critical element that has come in. Never again will people think the same; what I am hoping is that the Arab revolutions will be so sustainable and so successful and morally so strong that they will force the West to think differently about themselves in terms of the viewpoints and stands they take on events.
HC: Christianity is under threat in the Holy Land. People tend to forget that this is not an issue between Jews and Muslims; there are Christian Palestinians too. There has been a disturbing trend over the years, which has seen Christian Palestinians leaving the Holy Land because of the extraordinary difficulties that Israel has placed on their lives. In what
ways has the occupation affected Christians?
AB: The Christian community in Palestine has been decimated in many ways. By doing this the Israelis are doing two things: they are simplifying the presentation of the struggle as if it is only between Jews and Arabs, with the result that Christians outside think that there is nothing and nobody for us to be in solidarity with. Hence, the Christian Zionists, those ultra conservative fundamentalists in the United States who have for so long helped to dictate foreign policy under the Bush and Reagan administrations, they can say “it’s not about us; it’s not about Christians and Christian witness, it’s about those Muslims”; that, I think, is the intention. I’m hoping that those of us who are Christians outside the Middle East will keep that fact alive and will find ways and means to inject that argument into every single political situation so that the discourse that goes forward and gives rise to action does not push aside the reality of Christians in the Middle East, especially in the Holy Land.
The second thing they are doing is that they are dislodging, not just denying, but dislodging the roots of the Christian faith in the Middle East; that’s where it all started. If you dislodge that it’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face – you are cutting yourself off from the most ancient roots of Christianity and that will set the Christian church adrift, and in the end that will not be good for Israel. So I’m glad to see that the World Council of Churches is rising up again. It is not nearly as radical as it should be, it’s not nearly as clear as it should be nor as hard-nosed as it should be on this issue, but at least it is taking up the Palestinian issue and responding to the situation in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere where Christians are under pressure. In doing so they must remember that this is not just a Christian cause; it’s not important just because of the Christians involved, but also because the future of humanity is at stake.
HC: There are an estimated 50 million Christian Zionists worldwide. How would you council them with regards to their support for the state of Israel which is based, they would say, on Biblical reasoning?
AB: It’s like with so many things, it’s the way that people read and interpret the Bible and so we must just make sure that we are as clear and as enthusiastic and as open about our understanding of the Bible and as willing to engage our understanding of the Bible as they seem to be. There must be ways; we have just not been imaginative enough. I think one reason is because we have not, until very recently, realised the very dangerous nature of the views that those people hold, not just for Palestinians and for Muslims in general but also for the Christian Church itself. Now that we begin to see how deadly that kind of logic is, how absolutely anti-Christian and anti-human that logic is, we have no excuses left.
HC: Israel is demanding that Palestinians recognise it as an exclusively “Jewish state”. How would you respond to this demand?
AB: They can’t. There is no such thing as a specifically Jewish state. You can’t proclaim a Jewish state over the heads and the bodies and the memories of the people who are the ancient people who live there. That is Palestinian land we are talking about. Most of the Jews who are there come from Europe and elsewhere and have no claim on that land and we mustn’t allow it to happen to the Palestinians what happened to my ancestors who were the original people in this land (South Africa) but now there are hardly enough of them to be counted in the census. That is Palestinian land and that should be the point of departure in every political discussion.
HC: In the past you urged Western countries to impose economic sanctions on the South African apartheid regime. Would you support a similar call for sanctions against the state of Israel?
AB: Absolutely! Pressure, pressure, pressure from every side and in as many ways as possible: trade sanctions, economic sanctions, financial sanctions, banking sanctions, sports sanctions, cultural sanctions; I’m talking from our own experience. In the beginning we had very broad sanctions and onlylate in the 1980s did we learn to have targeted sanctions. So you must look to see where the Israelis are most vulnerable; where is the strongest link to the outside community? And you must have strong international solidarity; that’s the only way it will work. You have to remember that for years and years and years when we built up the sanctions campaign it was not with governments in the West. They came on board very, very late.
It was the Indian government and in Europe just Sweden and Denmark to begin with and that was it. Later on, by 1985-86, we could get American support. We never could get Margaret Thatcher on board, never Britain, never Germany, but in Germany the people who made a difference were the women who started boycotting South African goods in their supermarkets. That’s how we built it up. Never despise the day of small beginnings. It was down to civil society. But civil society in the international community could only build up because there was such a strong voice from within and that is now the responsibility of the Palestinians, to keep up that voice and to be as strong and as clear as they possibly can. Think up the arguments, think through the logic of it all but don’t forget the passion because this is for your country.