Thursday, May 6, 2021

Apartheid Then and Now

 By Eloise Cranke, Reprinted with permission, first printed for MEPEC (Middle East Peace Education Coalition)

A recent webinar, sponsored by UMKR (United Methodists for Kairos Response) and MFSA (Methodist Federation for Social Action) compared apartheid in South Africa with what’s happening in Palestine today. The similarities were striking.

 One of the speakers was Kelvin Sauls, now living in Los Angeles, but originally from South Africa.  He remembers clearly the discrimination his family of nine experienced through displacement, an experience that shaped his life.  In 2008 he began to be involved in Palestinian work and could easily relate the way Palestinians are restricted to certain areas and not permitted in others to his own experience of displacement.  He spent an evening in a Palestinian village surrounded by Jewish Settlements, complete with noise and raw sewage

being dumped into it from the settlements. He defines apartheid as an ideology and theology of white systems of colonization—political, economic and cultural, with an aim to establish a white religious ruling class.

Illegal Israeli settlement (Cranke)

His parting message was that people must mobilize to resist this discrimination.  

Sandra Tamari, the second speaker, is originally from Palestine, but is now barred from any travel to her homeland because of her activism.  Now living in St. Louis, she recognized a powerful analogy between South African apartheid and what’s happening in Palestine today.  She took it a step further by also comparing it to the US and the way Native Americans were displaced.  She pointed out that today privileged Jewish people are vaccinated and returning to normal while Palestinians have not recieved this vaccine. 

She went on to compare the South African pass laws and pass books with how Israel categorizes Palestinians and tells them where they can live and work.  A chart she shared is revealing:

            5.7 million Palestinians are in exile and can’t return (like herself)

            1.6 million are in Gaza and can’t leave that “open air prison”

            2.3 million are in the West Bank with restrictions and check points

            2.3 million in East Jerusalem, also with some restrictions

            1.3 million who are Israeli citizens, but still without some freedoms

            5.9 million Jewish Israelis who are like white supremacists with no restrictions

 Checkpoint at Hebron (Cranke)
 Guard Tower on separation wall (Cranke)

She summed it up by saying that Israel is an apartheid, colonial regime.  She also encouraged the use of divestment as a tool to combat the discrimination. 

Just as the US, with few exceptions, sided with the white South African colonizers during the apartheid years, today the government of the US supports the Israeli apartheid regime with financial and diplomatic support – unmatched by any country in the world.

Similarly, just as the Divestment movement against South Africa eventually played a critical role in ending apartheid in that land, so too can it be instrumental in ending Israeli apartheid against the Palestinian people.

To see the recorded webinar:

Quote found on Separation Wall (Cranke)

Eloise Cranke is the Coordinator for the Iowa Chapter of MFSA (Methodist Federation for Social Action) and a member of (MEPEC) Middle East Peace Education Coalition.  Her concern for the human rights of the Palestinian people was intensified after a visit to the Holy Land several years ago.

1 comment:

  1. Eloise's reflections are further motivations to continue MEPEC's and our allies advocacy efforts to persuade our U. S. Representatives to co-sponsor and persuade their colleagues to pass Rep. Betty McColllum's HR 2590 legislation. Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families living under Israeli Military Occupation Act." Please join us by contacting your U. S. Representative.