by Ra’ana Dilruba Yasmin and Robert H. Stiver
“I have never doubted that apartheid – because it was of itself fundamentally, intrinsically evil – was going to bite the dust eventually.” ~Desmond Tutu, 2007
Along with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Nelson Mandela ‘Madiba,’ and Martin Luther King, Jr., the world has lost one of the greatest souls of the last two centuries or any prior — the last of the rare iconic figures who truly, genuinely cared for and spoke up with courage and conviction for the oppressed, the downtrodden, the marginalized, the humiliated, and any and all abused humankind.
These years of the raging COVID pandemic continue and spill over to 2022–and have brought to an end the physical presence of one of humanity’s finest — the anti-apartheid human-rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. But there is no doubt that his thoughts, words, and actions will continue to be powerful and compelling forces for good for those who care and dream about a kinder, gentler, more just world — most principally, a free Palestine: “From the River to the Sea” — and Palestinian Muslims’ and Christians’ right to return to their own homeland from many points of diaspora.
The evidence is abundant and irrefutable: Palestine is the current-era victim of apartheid — an epic tragedy very recently (mid-2021) confirmed by both Human Rights Watch and B’tSelem. The above quotation is one example of Archbishop Tutu’s distaste for apartheid. Here are others apropos the Palestinians’ torment:
(2014) “Nelson Mandela famously said that South Africans would not feel free until Palestinians were free. He might have added that the liberation of Palestine will liberate Israel, too.”
(2014) “We are opposed to the injustice of the illegal occupation of Palestine. We are opposed to the indiscriminate killing in Gaza. We are opposed to the indignity meted out to Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks. We are opposed to violence perpetrated by all parties. But we are not opposed to Jews.”
(2014) “(Palestinians’) humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”
(2014) “I know first-hand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed.”
Archbishop Tutu was honored years ago with the title “International Patron of Sabeel” — his Christian-brotherhood association with the Palestinian Christian organization Sabeel Ecumenical Christian Liberation Center, established in 1989. (Sabeel is Arabic for “the way” or “the path.”) Sabeel, in a statement issued on 12-28-2021, wrote “Bishop Tutu spent his life actively struggling against apartheid and working for the liberation of his South African people. Equally, however, he was committed to the liberation of the Palestinian people from the oppression and apartheid of the Israeli government in Israel and Palestine. For many years…he faithfully advocated for the achievement of justice, truth, inclusivity, equality, and liberation for all our Palestinian people.”
Elsewhere in this suffering world, we single out the ‘savages’ of India — the RSS, Hindutva/Sanghi promoters (followers of Nazism responsible for assassinating Gandhi) who are openly calling for GENOCIDE, taking up arms against and eliminating Muslims, Christians, and the Dalits (the ‘untouchables’). Perversely, they have also announced that all citizens of India must revert to Hinduism–the Pakistanis be made Hindus again–surely their DNA must have HINDU in them! Soon a civil war will be engaged — it is already in the making enabled by the ruling party of India, headed by Modi — he is completely SILENT: such an appalling prospect! And of course the majority who continue to be silent, covertly believing all along in the same or coming out of the woodwork now, have been emboldened by the silent stance of their government. They are putting up vile, demeaning and dehumanizing images of prominent Muslim women for auction: the ‘Sulli’ ‘Bulli’ deals that are circulating freely and brazenly.
And to add to the danse macabre of India: Kashmir is as occupied and oppressed as is Palestine. India plays by the colonial Zionist ‘playbook’: they believe in the same policies of oppression, humiliation, and subjugation. They are the ‘bosom pals’ of Israel. With support, assistance, and training from Israel’s Mossad, the Indian military has created the world’s largest prison camp in Kashmir — deploying seven hundred thousand soldiers.
How can one remain silent? In Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s immortal and searing words: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” This is so apparent now and brings to mind the prediction of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan who said in 1945, “Muslims who are opposing Pakistan (now) will spend the rest of their lives proving loyalty to India.”
We wish fervently in this 2022 that our world would transform into a kinder, gentler, more compassionate, healthful and vibrant place to live, in empathy, justice, dignity, tolerance, peace, and all encompassing love!
(Ra’ana Dilruba Yasmin is a Muslim, a Hawai’i kama’aina for more than 30 years, an aspiring author and lover of the arts. She and Robert H. Stiver, a United Methodist Christian and Hawai’i resident of 50 years, first met in 2003 and have been friends, colleagues, and fellow activists these now-two decades.)