Palestinian BDS Leadership Calls For Deepening Solidarity Between Palestinians and African Movements Against Colonialism and Racism
The recent, welcome cancellation of the Africa-Israel Summit slated to take place in Togo this month underscores the urgency of re-focusing on how our struggles are intertwined and strengthened by our mutual solidarity.
October 9, 2017 —The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian civil society coalition and the leadership of the global BDS movement, calls for intensifying solidarity between Palestinians and the peoples and social movements across Africa still struggling to defeat colonialism, racism and apartheid. The recent, welcome cancellation of the Africa-Israel Summit that was slated to take place in Togo this month underscores the urgency of re-focusing on how our struggles are intertwined and strengthened by our mutual solidarity.
We welcome the indefinite postponement of the Africa-Israel Summit resulting from significant opposition by South Africa and other African and Arab countries. This opposition has put a brake on Israel’s efforts to improve its ties to Africa and to meet its stated goal of changing how African countries, traditionally supportive of Palestinians, vote at the United Nations.
Israel’s crimes in Africa are not so easily erased. Alongside its well-documented history of fueling civil wars, supporting apartheid and ruthless dictatorships across the African continent, Israel has recently been exposed as having played a role in the genocide in Rwanda. As early as 1992, Israel provided weapons, and later training, to the Rwandan military and Hutu militia that in 1994 perpetrated crimes against humanity against the Tutsis.
A recent UN report accused Israeli arms suppliers of fueling the civil war in South Sudan.
On the other hand, African states have a long history of supporting the Palestinian people. Since the late 1960s, growing numbers of African states have broken relations with Israel and consistently supported Palestinian rights in international fora.
The preamble of the African Charter of Human Rights, ratified by all African states except South Sudan, affirms their “duty to achieve the total liberation of Africa, the peoples of which are still struggling for their dignity and genuine independence, and undertaking to eliminate colonialism, neo-colonialism, apartheid, zionism and to dismantle aggressive foreign military bases and all forms of discrimination, language, religion or political opinions.”
Nelson Mandela once said that “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” Similarly, Palestinian self-determination is closely connected with Africa’s pursuit of genuine independence. The peoples of Africa and the Palestinian people share an experience of struggle against colonialism, including settler colonialism, and apartheid. They also share a common commitment to combat all forms of racism and racial discrimination.
African and Palestinian liberation movements have long stood in active mutual solidarity for self-determination, while Israel has consistently supported colonial and neocolonial powers in the continent. The Palestinian liberation movement was among the closest and most reliable allies of the African National Congress in leading the fight against apartheid in South Africa at a time when Israel was the apartheid regime’s closest trade, nuclear and arms partner.
Furthermore, Israel has a shameful track record of racial discrimination and ill-treatment of Black and African people, promoted through its governmental programs and endorsed by leading Israeli politicians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Africans in Israel “threaten the social fabric of society.”
Israel’s Minister of Interior Eli Yishai has complained that African immigrants “think the country doesn’t belong to us, the white man.” Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev, has publicly compared Africans to “a cancer.” It was also revealed in 2013 that Israel was forcibly injecting Jewish-Ethiopian women in transit camps with birth control, leading to an eventual 50% decrease in their fertility over 10 years.
Desperately trying to whitewash its shameful past and present racism against Africans, Israel has over the last years intensified its efforts to establish trade and political relations with African states. Starting in 2016 with a first such visit in over thirty years, Netanyahu visited East African countries offering trade, agribusiness and water technology.
Israel speaks of “building bridges toward greater shared prosperity” in Africa, but this is merely propaganda to better access the natural resources and public funds of African states, while legitimizing its racist and colonial policies against the indigenous people of Palestine.
One of Israel’s central exploitative endeavors in Africa is the polishing and marketing of diamonds, which amounts to trade in blood diamonds, and which fuels war and conflict. Top Israeli businesses are infamous worldwide for resorting to bribery and corruption to siphon off the wealth of impoverished African nations.
Israel has also consistently provided military support to the cruelest authoritarian regimes in Africa. It has funded dictatorships and provided training and money to aid in the military repression of anti-colonial uprisings across Africa. One notorious example is its sale of arms to and military support for the brutal Mobutu regime in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo).
Far from helping African countries to achieve sustainable development, Israeli interests in the continent are centered around reaping profits from Africa’s natural wealth, even at the cost of fueling wars and conflict.
The BNC thanks all those who have worked at civil society and governmental levels to achieve the “postponement” of the Israel-Africa Summit in Togo, and hopes that this disgraceful undertaking will be scrapped completely.
We invite all African civil society to work with us to expose Israel’s efforts to cover up its crimes against the Palestinian people by making alliances in Africa, and to prevent Israel’s racist regime from fanning the flames of civil strife and militarism across the African continent while exploiting it and the African people.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Visit our website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter @BDSmovement.