I fought South African apartheid. I see the same brutal policies in Israel

A woman passes by a Likud party election campaign poster showing its leader Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu on April 1, 2019.  (photo: Amir Levy / Getty Images)
Echoes of South African anti-apartheid tactics seen in the ongoing struggle for Palestinian human rights.

By Ronnie Kasrils | The Guardian | Apr 3, 2019

How disgraceful that, despite the lessons of our struggle against racism, such intolerance continues to this day

As a Jewish South African anti-apartheid activist I look with horror on the far-right shift in Israel ahead of this month’s elections, and the impact in the Palestinian territories and worldwide.

Israel’s repression of Palestinian citizens, African refugees and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza has become more brutal over time. Ethnic cleansing, land seizure, home demolition, military occupation, bombing of Gaza and international law violations led Archbishop Tutu to declare that the treatment of Palestinians reminded him of apartheid, only worse.

I’m also deeply disturbed that critics of Israel’s brutal policies are frequently threatened with repression of their freedom of speech, a reality I’ve now experienced at first hand. Last week, a public meeting in Vienna where I was scheduled to speak in support of Palestinian freedom, as part of the global Israeli Apartheid Week, was cancelled by the museum hosting the event – under pressure from Vienna’s city council, which opposes the international movement to divest from Israel.

South Africa’s apartheid government banned me for life from attending meetings. Nothing I said could be published, because I stood up against apartheid. How disgraceful that, despite the lessons of our struggle against racism, such intolerance continues to this day, stifling free speech on Palestine.

During the South African struggle, we were accused of following a communist agenda, but smears didn’t deflect us. Today, Israel’s propaganda follows a similar route, repeated by its supporters – conflating opposition to Israel with antisemitism. This must be resisted.

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