The 29th of November marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. This anniversary is commemorated every year by the United Nations, the very same organization that was pressured by the imperialist forces, namely the United States of America, into partitioning Palestine on November 29, 1947, leading to the Nakba, the process of ethnic cleansing conducted by Zionist militias and in which more than 750,000 Palestinians became refugees.
In declaring this day a day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, the UN, ironically, expressed its regret for this unjust and unjustifiable resolution that was taken regardless of the tremendous pain and horror it caused to the Palestinian people. And that led to the creation of a new entity, namely Israel, at the expense and on the soil of the Palestinian people.
Ever since 1948 Israel has been exercising a policy of colonization, massacres, sieges, collective punishment, building settlements and apartheid walls, expropriating more lands and waging genocidal wars against the armless refugees of Palestine. In the last ten years alone, Israel has committed a series of massacres in which whole families were wiped out in cold blood. More than 4000 Palestinians, mostly children and women, were killed and tens of thousands injured. The question remains: would apartheid Israel have committed all these heinous war crimes and crimes against humanity in full impunity without the financial and military support of mostly Western governments and the strategic alliance it enjoys with the United States of America?
But I am also thinking of the moral support we are getting from the likes of Archbishop Desmund Tutu, Ronnie Kasrils, the late Nelson and Winnie Mandela and the late Ahmed Kathrada—to mention but a few anti-apartheid giants. On the first anniversary of the 2009 war on Gaza, we organized with a group of 1360 international solidarity activists from 42 countries what came to be known as The Gaza Freedom March. The world-renowned singer and BDS activist Roger Waters decided to send a message of solidarity in which he saluted the Palestinians of Gaza and their international supporters. Eloquently, he defined the objective of this act of solidarity:
“The aim … is to focus world attention on the plight of the Palestinian people in Gaza in the hope that the scales will fall from the eyes of all, ordinary, decent people round the world, that they may see the enormity of the crimes that have been committed, and demand that their governments bring all possible pressure to bear on Israel to lift the siege.”
Waters made it clear that he was using the word ‘crimes’ advisedly, as both the siege and the invasion have been declared unlawful by United Nations bodies and leading human rights organizations. He added: “If we do not all observe international law, if some governments think themselves above it, it is but a few short, dark, steps to barbarism and anarchy.” And this is exactly what is happening to Gaza which, according to a United Nations report, will become “uninhabitable” in 2020, i.e. four weeks from now.
In commemorating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, we pledge to continue the struggle by all means till the liberation of Palestine and the establishment of a democratic state on its soil for all of its citizens, regardless of religion, race or sex.
But for that to become a reality, we need the support of freedom-loving people all over the world; those citizens who refused to stand by while the apartheid regime of South African exploited native Africans, and other racial groups. Let’s be absolutely clear about it, in addition to the struggle on the ground conducted by the South African people, without the support of international civil society and the pressure it exerted on mostly complicit world governments, apartheid would have survived much longer and Nelson Mandela might have died in prison. Likewise, our suffering under Israel’s multi-tiered system of oppression, namely occupation, colonization and apartheid, needs all the support it can get from ordinary people because our cause enjoys a high moral ground.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS), the most effective tool of solidarity, has certainly become a beacon to all those who believe that we are all brothers and sisters, who must stand shoulder to shoulder, if we are to make a future where all have recourse to law and universal human rights, where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not just the preserve of the few!
Let me end with the words of support from Roger Waters addressed to the Palestinians of Gaza: “…out here, beyond the Walls of [your] Prison, stand hundreds of thousands of us in solidarity with [you.] Today, hundreds of thousands. Tomorrow, millions. Soon, hundreds of millions. We Shall Overcome.”