From Past To Present: Apartheid In South Africa And Palestine

Khaled Hosseni spoke about Afghani children saying, “there are a lot of children in Afghanistan but little childhood.” The same applies to Palestinian children.

From Past To Present: Apartheid In South Africa And Palestine

Apartheid, originates from Afrikaans and means "apartness”, is one of the darkest times in history of humans, to be precise in South Africa, where the National Party implemented discriminatory policies in 1948, systematically rejecting basic human rights to the majority of black population.

This article explores the history of apartheid in South Africa, Nelson Mandela's persistent struggle against it, and draws a connection to contemporary concerns regarding Israel's conduct of the Palestinian people and lands. Additionally, the insights of pro-Palestinian author Edward Said and Christopher Hitchen’s acumen contributed to the situation, clarifying the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Black people in South Africa were reduced to a subservient role under the apartheid rule, which solidified racial differences. Deep-rooted social and economic disparities resulted from segregation, which penetrated every facet of life, including work and school. Known for his contributions to the anti-apartheid campaign, Nelson Mandela served 27 years in jail. He is a symbol of the struggle for justice. The apartheid rule was overthrown and a democratic South Africa was established as a result of Mandela's tenacity and dedication to equality.

Mandela's words upon his release in 1990 resonated globally: "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." Mandela's legacy inspires movements for justice and freedom across the world, acting as a ray of hope for people who are oppressed. Mandela was pro Palestine just to be clear and he supported the Palestinian cause. In Mandela’s words, “The histories of our two peoples, Palestinian and South African, correspond in such painful and poignant ways.” 

History is repeating itself in Israel. It is quite evident that apartheid is mirrored in Israel's practices towards the Palestinian territory. Moreover, some point to the establishment of separation walls, the development of settlements in the West Bank, and limitations on Palestinian mobility as examples of discriminatory tactics. Furthermore, the discussion over Israel's policies has heated up in response to United Nations assessments that have raised concerns about human rights breaches, such as arbitrary arrests, land expropriation, harassment and restrictions on basic services for Palestinians.

The allusion to apartheid highlights the precarious situation of Palestinians residing in areas that Israel has taken over. Reminiscences of South Africa's historical injustices are aroused by the establishment of settlements, the erection of separation walls, and the restrictions placed on Palestinian mobility. The world community has spoken up, calling for a re-evaluation of laws that support inequality and subvert the values of justice and human rights.

Prominent academic and author who supported Palestine, Edward Said, had offered important new perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Said underlined how critical it is to comprehend the Palestinian story and how Palestinians are affected by displacement. Said examined the historical and cultural aspects of the conflict in his groundbreaking book, "The Question of Palestine," and he called for a more complex perspective. He says in the book, “it was perfectly apparent to Western supporters of Zionism like Balfour that the colonization of Palestine was to be made a goal for the Western powers from the very beginning of Zionist planning: Herzl used the idea, Weizmann used it, every leading Israeli since has used it.”

Said's remarks ring true with a plea for justice and a thorough comprehension of the complex history behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His assertion, "You cannot continue to victimize someone else just because you yourself were a victim once—there has to be a limit," underscores the need for a collective commitment to break the cycle of victimhood and strive for a just resolution. As justice is prerequisite to peace.

Prominent political analyst Christopher Hitchens had a critical viewpoint on Israel and Palestine, arguing that actions implemented by the Israeli government amounted to apartheid. In addition to highlighting the need for a fair and unbiased settlement to the ongoing Middle East conflict, Hitchens promoted accountability. Moreover, his stance was that just because it's written in your Holy Book that this land is holy and it's yours doesn't give you the right to displace the people already living on it. “If Jews born in Brooklyn have a right to a state in Palestine, then Palestinians born in Jerusalem have a right to a state in Palestine,” he said in an interview. 

In his candid analysis, Hitchens stated, "The Palestinian territories are increasingly resembling nothing so much as Bantustans – the squalid, poverty-stricken enclaves to which South African blacks were consigned during the apartheid era." In line with Mandela's understanding of the interconnectedness of the fights for justice and freedom, Hitchens' parallel emphasized the critical necessity for international attention and diplomatic attempts to solve the difficulties faced by Palestinians.

In conclusion, I would say that this issue of Israel and Palestine is often depicted as an Muslim and Jew problem but in reality it just takes a reasonable person to analyse and make a judgment call. These three persons have totally different ethnicities and backgrounds yet they reached the same conclusion about Israel’s apartheid rule.

Furthermore, considering the current issues in the Middle East and the past injustices of apartheid in South Africa highlight the ongoing worldwide fight against discrimination and the advancement of human rights. The need for justice and equality is universal as we reflect on the legacy of leaders like Nelson Mandela and interact with critical voices like Edward Said and Christopher Hitchens.

As Khaled Hosseini said about Afghani children, “there are a lot of children in Afghanistan but little childhood”, I believe the same applies to poor Palestinian children. Thoughts of Mandela, Said's appeal for compassion and justice, and Hitchens' analysis provide direction as one navigates the intricacies of the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma. In the end, the dawn of a more inclusive and fair future may drive out the shadows of apartheid through empathy, communication, and a common commitment to justice.