Palestine: Freedom or a loaf of bread?

isreali apartheid palestine

Many a pundit, commentator or analyst witnessing what has been going on in Palestine for the last hundred years can draw parallels between our situation and that of Apartheid South Africa and/or the liberation movement in Algiers. Though there are similarities with our cause in the struggle for freedom in both those countries there are also vast differences.

International conditions have changed as have the local conditions in the Middle East and the domestic conditions in occupied Palestine. Our plight is so much worse now that it ever was in the dark days of Apartheid and discrimination in South Africa and in Algiers and while so-called peace in both of those countries has been achieved political, civil and most of all human rights in Occupied Palestine are at an all time low.

The elephant in the room is Zionism disguising itself as Judaism so that the occupiers of our land, who practice a daily savage brutality to our people portray themselves not as the perpetrator but as the victim. Zionist propaganda has taken the tragedy of the Jewish people and used it to make them the world’s victims. They are untouchable. Neither the Boers of South Africa nor the Colonial French in Algiers could ever claim such a unique place in twenty first century history.

After the second world war and the sun starting to set over the British Empire there was a taste and an eagerness for freedom from the shackles of Imperialism and colonization all over Africa and Asia.

We saw the revolt of India that ended three hundred years of British Rule. Then there was the revolt in Egypt and other parts of Africa against the same colonizers bringing freedom and independence to many countries and the rebirth of many nations. In Arab North Africa the people of Algiers, of Tunis and Morocco rose up against their French occupiers and despite a savagery that had the world reeling we saw the eventual liberation of those countries. The conditions and the atmosphere played no small part in their victory, the international community was conducive and supportive of people’s aspirations for freedom and liberation.

Contrast that with current sorry state of the Arab countries. They are being blown asunder by ruinous infighting followed by scurrying to ‘normalize’ relations with our ‘supposed’ common enemy as instructed by the big bully in the White house and his western accolytes.

Then couple this with the the dire domestic situation in Palestine itself. Meanwhile an inhumane siege which has been in place for over twelve years causing desperate misery and deprivation is still in Gaza with no change of policy in sight. Most crucially there is the division between Fateh in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.

From the above I hope you can see that the comparison between Apartheid South Africa and the current Apartheid in Palestine, as administered by Israel, is not totally accurate. Even Archbishop Desmond Tutu acknowledged this when he visited Palestine in 2002 “I have been to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid. I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women, and children.. and this humiliation is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and regularly insulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.” …He went on to say that what he had witnessed in Palestine was far worse than what they endured back in South Africa.

As for the blood-stained struggle by the Algerians for their independence from France, I remember that from my childhood. We school children collected what money we could to help our brothers and sisters in Algeria. We were rooting for them all the way and in the end they prevailed.

Yes, the rich Arab countries that are the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia have given the PLO some financial help in the past. But that did not come free of charge. There were political conditions and restraint attached, again as dictated by the USA and other western powers. And this brings me to the title of this article.

Two million Palestinians living in Gaza are at the point of starvation. There are around three million other Palestinian refugees languishing in refugee camps in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon with no political or civil rights at all. The same number living in the West Bank do not fare any better under the draconian laws of the Occupation and the collaboration of the Palestinian Authority. The one and a half million Palestinians living in Israel as Israeli citizens are a little bit better off than their brothers and sisters across the Green Line, but they are discriminated against, humiliated and disenfranchised in every aspect of their daily lives. The killer blow for them has been the recent Nation State Bill that has made self determination in Israel unique to the Jews.

You must be aware of the leaked news of a deal that has been brokered by the Egyptians and the United Nations Middle Eastern representative, Mr. Nickolay Mladenov which advocates the calming of the situation on both sides of the fence of the Gaza strip and the possible cease-fire agreement of between 10 – 15 years that would culminate in reopening the Rafa crossing into Egypt and the Erez crossing with Israel to allow partial movement of goods and people in and out of the largest open prison in the world. It is, of course, all conditional on Hamas laying down its arms and releasing the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who were killed during the massacre of 2014 and two other Israeli civilians who are missing. No mention here of release of Palestinian prisoners still in Israeli jails nor any other Palestinian civil or political rights.

So what do the people of Gaza do? Reject this proposal, even assuming they have a say in the matter, and continue existing under the breadline in inhumane and impossible conditions? Or accept the meagre offerings just for the sake of survival?

Remember half the population of Gaza have known nothing but siege and wars for their entire lives. If you had their fate in your hands, what would you do?

Jafar M Ramini is a Palestinian writer and political analyst, based in London, presently in Perth, Western Australia. He was born in Jenin in 1943 and was five years old when he and his family had to flee the terror of the Urgun and Stern gangs. Justice for the people of Palestine is a life-long commitment.


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