Palestine Draws Inspiration from South Africa’s Elections

By Iqbal Jassat – Johannesburg

Election fever has gripped a variety of countries across many regions of the world. Notable amongst these are India and South Africa, where many challenges facing incumbent governments are not too dissimilar: unemployment, poverty, absence of services and inadequate healthcare, feature as dominant issues.

While millions of people are engaged in intensive debates, rallies and door to door campaigns across South Africa and India, the Occupied people of Palestine look on in awe and amazement at democracy in action but sadly denied to them.

Israel may argue that Palestinians within its 1948 borders have a vote and are represented in the Knesset. This they claim is a reflection of its democracy.

The reality of course is far removed from Israeli propaganda.

In a scenario reminiscent of the period that existed under Afrikaner nationalism prior to 1994, Israeli claims that Palestinians are free to participate at two levels, confirms its apartheid credentials.

Key words used to describe the old South Africa such as “Bantustans”, “Segregation”, “2nd class citizens” are equally applicable today in Israel in relation to its multiplicity of laws that determine the limits imposed on non-Jews and Palestinians in particular.

Clearly Israel refuses to learn from the last white knight of apartheid, FW de Klerk, that segregation, discrimination and oppression are immoral, unjust and unsustainable.

Apart from its genesis being wholly illegitimate resulting in the dispossession of Palestine via massacres and ethnic cleansing, Israel, seven decades later remains embattled in a war of legitimacy.

Is there no way out?

How much longer will Israel and its gang of hardened rightwing leaders hold onto failed policies?

Will they ever reach South Africa’s “de Klerk” moment?

The current prognosis seems bleak especially in the wake of controversies and angry denials generated by remarks made by Obama’s “peace” envoy Kerry.

Not surprising that the current stand off between Israel and its patron superpower arises from the “A” word.

The context of this freeze in relations is important to understand.  It relates to Abbas and his move to find common ground between Fatah and Hamas.

As had occurred before when Hamas had emerged victorious in elections to determine a government within the Occupied ’67 territories and Israel had imposed draconian restrictions making it impossible for an elected authority to fulfil its obligations of governance, the Netanyahu regime remains resolute to destroy Palestinian unity.

The international community has the same responsibility it discharged during global anti-apartheid campaigns to harness every conceivable lever of pressure against Israeli intransigence.

Palestinians know that though democracy is denied to them, they can rejoice in the knowledge that South Africa’s road to freedom was successful.

Election 2014 marks 20 years of freedom but more importantly for Palestinians is the fact that South Africa has built a powerful platform to advance their struggle.

– Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the Media Review Network, Johannesburg – South Africa. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com and follow him through Twitter: @ijassat.

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