Inspired by South Africa’s freedom struggle, BDS aims to mobilize people all over the world to do what governments won’t — apply pressure on Israel until it respects all the rights of the Palestinian people.
A year ago, the UN published a landmark report on Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. It found “beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crimes of apartheid.”
This was no rash conclusion, but one the authors reached after meticulous analysis of the evidence and law — especially the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.
Palestinians hailed the report as a milestone in their struggle to see Israel held accountable for its brutal, decades long denial of their rights. But Israel’s powerful patrons had other plans. Immediately, the US government, Israel’s biggest arms supplier, began to threaten the United Nations.
“To many of us our solidarity in this campaign is very personal because of our own experience under apartheid. We too, like the heroic Palestinians, were once called terrorists. We, like the Palestinians, were detained. We, like the Palestinians today, embarked on hunger strikes from our prison cells in protest against apartheid South Africa’s human rights violations. We also note the growing number of South African Jews who have joined this 24-hour fast and are in protest against Israel’s discriminatory policies. They remind us of our own white comrades who refused to let the apartheid government speak in their name.” — Nomaindia Mfeketo, South African Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-Operation
More than a dozen South African politicians and several anti-apartheid activists and public figures have completed a day-long fast to draw attention to the fight of hunger-striking Palestinians protesting conditions in Israeli prisons.
Cabinet members including deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and deputy minister of international relations and co-operation Nomaindia Mfeketo — who herself was detained several times in the 1980s for anti-government activism — did not eat or drink for 24 hours from Sunday evening to Monday evening in solidarity with Palestinians who have now entered their second month of a hunger strike.
The “Freedom and Dignity” strike involving about 1,600 Palestinian prisoners in eight jails is over a range of issues, from access to telephones, lawyers and better medical care to ending solitary detention.
“I would like to see a two-state solution materialize, because I do think that’s the best way to secure peace in the region. I really don’t see a single state being a peaceful state, because initially there will be a Jewish minority that controls the state, and that will lead to the kind of tension that we had in apartheid South Africa. And later I suspect that when the Palestinian Arab majority becomes the government, they will be discriminating against the Jewish minority.
So I think those who believe that a single state will be a peaceful democratic state in which Jews and Arabs will live peacefully together are being very naïve. I do think that a two state solution offers the best solution for a peaceful resolution of the dispute. But as I’ve indicated, I think that Israel is making a two-state solution virtually impossible, so we have to come to terms with the possibility of a single state.”
One of the leading opponents to South African apartheid, and later a prominent critic of Israel, John Dugard spoke with New Matilda’s Michael Brull recently.
In legal circles in South Africa, Dugard’s contributions are widely known, and are treated with something approaching reverence. From the early 1970’s, Dugard wrote scathing critiques of judges and legal academics in apartheid South Africa. He argued that whilst judges claimed to be merely impartial upholders of the law, in fact they were actively making choices to defend infringements on civil liberties and injustice.
Dugard also acted as lawyer, or legal consultant, in numerous cases challenging apartheid law and practices. In 1978, Dugard was the founding director of the University of Witwatersrand’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies. This innocuous name masked its agenda: it was a human rights center.
For voicing his critiques, Dugard “faced opprobrium and even prosecution (for quoting Dr. Nthatho Motlana, a banned person), but he did not waver,” [wrote Edwin Cameron in the South African Journal on Human Rights.] “The clear voice of Dugard’s denunciation of apartheid collusion by lawyers and judges deserves credit as one of the reasons why today we have a law-based constitutional order whose legitimacy is politically unquestioned.”