Sea of solidarity from SA to Palestine
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“If we feel pain and suffering and transform them into strength, that means will power, a decision to grow and to give of ourselves, to join in solidarity with those who suffer too.” – Alicia Partnoy
As Muslims in South Africa, we felt deeply touched as President Cyril Ramaphosa celebrated the spirit of Ramadaan with us by partaking of the Iftaar (fast breaking meal) and prostrating in Salah (prayer) together with the Muslims in Cape Town.
This was a telling sign of a society and a president that respects the aspirations of a small minority of its population. What a wonderful gesture by our president and a truly remarkable tribute to diversity and religious tolerance in South Africa.
On another continent and in a very blessed place for all religions, something horrible and frightening is taking place. In this blessed month of Ramadaan.
Palestinians peacefully prostrating in prayer are violently and aggressively being attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets at Islam’s second holiest site, the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for no reason other than to cause them pain and hardship whilst fasting and praying.
In a nearby neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrar in East Jerusalem, fasting Palestinians are again being bullied by Jewish settlers into surrendering their tiny homes. And in nearby Gaza, bombs are being rained on innocent Palestinians killing many, including young children, for no apparent reason other than to disturb civilians from peacefully enjoying the blessings of one of their holiest months.
Truly in a bid of solidarity our government released a statement condemning the actions of Israel . This is line with the spirit of solidarity that our late president Nelson Mandela ignited in 1997 on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People where he reaffirmed his support in his powerful words: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians."
Embedded in the words of our great leader was the realisation that reciprocal solidarity was the life blood of resistance and social change. Solidarity extends beyond mountains and rivers and continents and joins movements in a common thread of humanity.
Our government in its criticism of Israel has honoured these bonds of solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Any further action in support of the Palestinians will certainly be in accordance with this momentum.
Moreover in favour of the Palestinian cause, amid the chaos of injustice and aggression by the Zionist regime, the writing is slowly beginning to appear on the wall for Israel. Palestinians have welcomed the release of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on April 27 2021, entitled: A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution, confirming the “reality of Israel’s entrenched discriminatory rule over Palestinians” as encompassing deprivations that are “so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution”.
Also earlier in January this year, B’Tselem, in its capacity as an Israeli human rights organisation released a ground-breaking report entitled, “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid”
This detailed report outlines Israel’s transgressions over the years and in view of the “recent legal accumulated measures, their pervasiveness in legislation and political practice, and the public and judicial support they receive” concludes that the Israeli regime is an apartheid state.
Dr. Ramsay Baroud leading Palestinian author and journalist, in his article https://politicstoday.org/the-evolution-of-apartheid-why-israel-is-becoming-a-pariah-state/, states that the above reports are “earth-shattering additions to a burgeoning legal literature that points to Israel’s racial discrimination and apartheid”.
Hence, we cannot dispute that being victims of apartheid, the fate of our Palestinian brothers and sisters is intricately mingled with ours. Rightfully we cannot remain silent and hence complicit in the face of this brutal and unspeakable injustice and oppression of the Palestine people.
The show of solidarity of our government is a telling sign of the fact that the scars of apartheid become alive and are re-enacted in the daily lives of the Palestinians. Their fate is intrinsically linked to ours – when Palestinians bleed every peace and justice-loving human feels their pain and prays for their victory over oppression.
Viva Palestine! Our historical struggle for freedom is embedded with yours and your freedom is our part of our final liberation. Amid news of the virulent escalation of the conflict, we pray for peace in the blessed land that is dear to us all.
* Saadia Gani is a property lawyer completing her Masters in multi-disciplinary human rights at the University of Pretoria.
* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL