By Carl Niehaus
Progressive South Africans that are committed to justice, democracy and non- racialism should be dismayed by the recent massacre of Palestinian protesters who opposed the provocative moving of the US’s embassy Jerusalem and the continued illegal occupation of Gaza by Israel.
I am proud to be a member of the African National Congress (ANC) which, so differently from the spineless expedient opportunism of the Democratic Alliance (DA), on both these issues unreservedly supports the positions of the Palestinian protesters and the legitimate government of the State of Palestine. In Jerusalem having been opened a day before the highly significant and emotional Nakba Day for the Palestinian people, when on the 15th of May 1948 700 000 Palestinians were expelled from their homeland because of the illegal occupation of their land during the formation of the State of Israel.
I do not for one moment believe that this extremely unfortunate timing by the USA was coincidental, it was deliberately coordinated by the USA and the apartheid Israeli State to inflict the worst possible insult and injury on the Palestinian people. This was confirmed by the triumphalist and provocative speech that the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, delivered at the official opening of the USA embassy in Jerusalem. His speech was nothing else but a further declaration of war on the people of Palestine. It was with utter dismay that one noted his downright rejection of the two-state solution of the peaceful coexistence of the States of Palestine and Isreal, that has for long now been the policy of the ANC and of the South African government. As the ANC we need to reiterate our long-held belief that Mr. Netanyahu is the leader of a racist apartheid state and that he and the State of Isreal are guilty of having committed serious human rights abuses and crimes against humanity, and in terms of international law should be prosecuted and brought to book.
President Trump should also be warned, that he will be known by the friends that he keeps, and that his illegal decision to move the USA embassy to Israel to the illegally Isreali occupied capital city of the State of Palestine is a further direct step in supporting international human rights abuses and war crimes being committed by the State of Israel. President Trump and the USA can no longer escape their co-complicity and therefore co-responsibility in the execution of these serious crimes by the apartheid State of Israel.
As members the foremost liberation movement in South Africa, that took the lead in the liberation struggle against the apartheid regime, all members of the ANC without exception should concur with the view that the State of Israel is a racist apartheid state. The continuing oppressive and viciously violent occupation of Gasa by the State of Israel strongly contributes to this carefully considered legitimate view that the ANC has now consistently held for a long time.
As one of those longstanding members of the ANC, who appreciates and is proud of the principled stand of the ANC with regards to Palestine, I warmly welcome the decision of the ANC led South African government to immediately recall Ambassador Sisa Ngombane, our Ambassador to Israel. The ANC should furthermore ensure that the South African government forthwith implement the decision of the 54th National Conference of the ANC that the South African mission to Israel should be downgraded from embassy status to observer status. The events of the past few days confirm the correctness of that progressive resolution. South Africa as a human rights-based society, with our long and torturous history of having had to battle against terrible racist human rights abuses, cannot be seen to grant a shred of legitimacy to the racist abuse and the violent dispossession and occupation of the land of the Palestinian people by the racist apartheid State of Israel. We owe it to our own liberation legacy, and to our principled international policy of solidarity with all of humanity who suffer racism and human rights crimes, to give our unequivocal support to the long-suffering people of Palestine.
I believe the ANC will also be amiss not to warn President Trump and the USA government, together with the State of Israel, that the current trajectory that they have taken has the potential to jeopardize any chance of finding a two-state solution for the decades-long crisis in Palestine. I continue to share the conviction of the ANC that this is the only viable solution for lasting peace in Palestine, and the USA and the State of Israel will have to carry their full share of responsibility, and the consequences, if this option fails because of their ongoing irresponsible international criminal behavior.
All progressive South Africans, together with and led by the ANC, must once again pledge our full support for the liberation of the people of Palestine. We must take every possible step, compliant with international law and in terms of our commitment to a human rights-based world community, to make our support for the people of Palestine tangible and effective.
Together with all truly progressive and concerned South Africans my heartfelt condolences go out to all the people of Palestine, and especially to the families and loved ones of those who have been killed and injured by the brutal violent repression by the apartheid State of Israel.
*Carl Niehaus is an NEC Member of the Umkhonto we Size Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) and National Spokesperson for MKMVA