South Africa's freedom struggle and the BDS movement are inextricably linked

2013-08-18 20:33

Prefatory remarks


If you think that what I'm about to say in this blog piece is about or against any religion or that its anti-Semitic ,now is the time to stop reading. What it's about is love and respect for freedom and equality.Its about human dignity and the right to life enshrined in international human rights covenants.Its about our capacity to play a collective role as a caring and sharing compassionate community whose vivid and lived experiences during brutish times compels us to join in a moral battle against a creed , namely zionism, whose excessive practices remain unmovable even through diplomatic means.

If you're not one of those,now is the time to delete or stop reading further.

Why BDS is the best peaceful option


When the Israeli government thumbs its nose at the international community with impunity,mirroring what happened to us during apartheid, when everyone knows that its morally as well as legally wrong to contravene international law for Israel to build settlements in the Occupied Territories without penalties, its clear that something involving the international community outside government must be done.

Its trite that one of the hallmarks of liberation movements in South Africa was the advocation and successful use of boycott and sanctions fed and sustained by local as well as more international progressively radical movements other than the ANC or the PAC put together. This is not to diminish or dilute their role, but it was the strategies of boycott and sanctions that loosened the gordhian knot that the apartheid government that slipped around liberation or freedom in SA. Who can forget the sports and academic boycotts that saw SA being identified as the number one pariah in the world, which graduated towards disinvestment and ultimately political isolation with only the US (under Ronald Reagan and his 'constructive engagement') and the UK (with Margaret Thatcher) providing a thin skein of recognition and a lifeline. Then the dismantling of the Berlin Wall heralded the demise and purported threat of communism, scripting the beginning of the end of apartheid rule in SA.

Mass boycott created the space in which people from all communities and classes came together. It was an instrument of mass mobilisation and resistance appealing to the moral fabric that informs human conscience that achieved the cohesion necessary to sound the death knell for apartheid.

What started as a across the dinner table instrument or fireside chat progressed into an all inclusive tool of mass mobilisation both within and outside the borders of South Africa.

There are, as our very own lived experiences teach us, many useful lessons we can draw and deploy vis-a-vis Israel/Palestine.

From inception our liberation was connected to the larger struggle outside our borders and it was responding, as I briefly alluded to various international events. So is it vis-a-vis Palestine.

Recall that in 1938 that Gandhi wrote that "Palestine belong(ed) to the Arabs in the same sense that England belong(ed)to the English" and that what was going on in Palestine (in 1938) could not be justified ' by any moral code of conduct'.

When a creed ,namely zionism,transmogrifies from a movement to a coloniser no one can validate its conduct or invalidate resistance by any means including armed struggle.

Way back in 1959 Julius Nyerere called upon the British public to boycott SA products, nothing special but just stay away from SA products and in this way to demonstrate to the British government their abomination for apartheid which Britain as a major trading partner of SA was subsidising. Where governments dither its people power that becomes agents of change. So much so as that,I recall Prime Minister BJ Vorster's desperate statement that every product sold outside SA ensure their existence.

It saw the Anti Apartheid Movement become a powerful weapon effectively directed at the policy,strategy and tactics employed by our very own liberation movements and as history memorises that what Nyerere propagated transformed into a fully fledged Boycott,Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Interim conclusion


If anything, short of witnessing the unnecessary bloodshed and violence across the Israeli/Palestine divide, we should take a moral stand by expressing our abomination for racial exclusivity aka apartheid just as we did in SA. Those opposed to supporting and arming both sides, should publicly take a stand by refusing to subsidise products made in Israel or in its occupied territories.

If we sit and wait for the UN or democratic leaders to remedy the rights of Palestinians,we may wait eternally. I abhor violence, either political or resistance based where innocent lives are sacrificed and see BDS as providing a sustainable moral template for effective change.

Just like the morally tenured people of the world eventually heard the clarion call of the oppressed in SA,eventually becoming the tipping point against the continuation of apartheid, I believe that if we continue applying enough pressure on those governments subsidising Israeli apartheid, justice would be restored to the Palestinians. It happened in South Africa. It can happen in Palestine.

Saber Ahmed Jazbhay

follow me @jazlaw24.


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2010-11-21 18:15

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