Friday, October 3, 2008

Learning from South Africa

Savera Kalideen and Haidar Eid, The Electronic Intifada, 2 October 2008
(Savera Kalideen is a South African solidarity activist, Haidar Eid is a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and one-state activist based in Palestine)

"The strategic value of international solidarity with the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, refugees in the Diaspora and Palestinians in Israel raises some fundamental questions. The most immediate and urgent are: what the nature of international solidarity should be and how it can best support the Palestinian struggle for self-determination?......

We have all watched as the results of the 2006 elections in Palestine have been denied legitimacy by the international community and the Palestinian people collectively punished for their temerity in choosing their own leaders. South Africans had to wait 27 years for their chosen leader and political party to be free to lead them; during those long years they rejected all false leaders that were foisted on them even when these quislings were celebrated by the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. As recently as 1987, Thatcher was confident enough to say that "Nelson Mandela would never be the president of a free South Africa."

Like Thatcher's government, other governments around the world were forced to isolate apartheid South Africa. They would not have done so without the pressure exerted on them by their own people. Israel needs to be isolated in exactly the same way as apartheid South Africa. Today, there is a growing mass-based struggle inside Palestine, as well as other forms of struggle, exactly as there was inside apartheid South Africa. An intensified international solidarity movement with a common agenda can make the struggle for Palestine resonate in every country in the world, thus closing off the world to Israelis until they open the world to Palestinians."

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