Speaker Compares Israel to Apartheid South Africa

  • Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
  • Comments Comments (0)

While South Africa and Israel may be half a world apart, their politics share much in common, an anti-apartheid activist said on campus yesterday.

Na'eem Jeenah, an organizer of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee in Johannesburg, spoke at Boalt Hall School of Law yesterday as part of an event organized by Law Students for Justice in Palestine, a Boalt Hall student group.

Jeenah pointed to aspects of the South African government during apartheid he said the current Israeli government shares.

During apartheid, many non-white South Africans were forced to live in communities separate from white citizens and were given fewer rights.

"People were moved from their homes, and their property was dumped in other areas," Jeenah said. "The people were no longer considered citizens of the land where they were born."

That segregation parallels the current division between Jews and Arabs in Israel, Jeenah said.

While Palestinians who did not leave Israel in 1948 are entitled Israeli citizenship as well as voting and property rights, those who did flee have been denied them, much like the way non-white South Africans were treated, he said.

Jeenah also spoke out against the "original sin," which he said is "the (Israeli) notion that Palestine was a land without a people," which he said was used to justify the creation of the Israeli state.

"It removes the legitimacy of Palestinian identity," he said. "That's ethnic cleansing."

Solutions for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are also similar to those that removed apartheid in South Africa, Jeenah said.

"International solidarity" as well as South African resistance were the two most important resolutions to apartheid, and the same conditions must be present to end the conflict in Israel, he said.

"The notion of isolating a state of Israel is something that should be considered," he said.

Jeenah suggested consumer boycotts and economic sanctions as international tools to coerce the Israeli government into accepting a Palestinian state.

Just as the use of boycotts and sanctions hurt South African non-whites economically, the same may happen for Palestinians in Israel, Jeenah said.

"Sacrifices hurt," he said. "That was one of the sacrifices we were willing to make."

But Jeenah also supported the use of violence by Palestinians against Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank.

"Many of us believe in South Africa that apartheid wouldn't have ended without international support but not if we relied only on (it)," he said. "We have a responsibility to support Palestinian resistance, to support the intifada."

Jeenah added he "has a principle objection" to the use of violence against Israeli civilians.

Some students in attendance agreed with Jeenah's comparisons between Israel and South Africa.

"His characterization of South Africa in comparison with the situation in Palestine was insightful," said Franchesca Herrera, a student at Boalt Hall. "It's useful our own activism now."

But others said they were troubled by his support of Palestinian violence.

"(Jeenah) said we should all support the intifada, an inherently violent movement, and that's unfortunate," said Boalt Hall student Aaron Siri.


Comments (0) »

Comment Policy
The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regards to both the readers and writers of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. Click here to read the full comment policy.
White space
Left Arrow
Image Student regent resigns after sex crime allegations
Jesse Cheng officially announced his resignation from his positio...Read More»
Image Pet shop may occupy planned Goodwill
After failed negotiations with the landlord and resistance from the busines...Read More»
Image Campus graduate takes new first steps
UC Berkeley's graduation day this year was symbolic for graduate Austin Whi...Read More»
Image Regents rescind part of approval
The ongoing legal battle surrounding revisions to the building plans for th...Read More»
Image UC spared additional cuts in budget revision
While the University of California escaped further funding reductions M...Read More»
Image UC Board of Regents wary of unreliable state funds
SAN FRANCISCO - Following the release of Gov. Jerry Brown's revis...Read More»
Right Arrow

Job Postings

White Space