South Africans who watched, with justified horror, the latest wave of violence unleashed by Israeli state rule over the Palestinian people probably did not link it to the Nkomati Accord of 1984. But it could. There is a crucial parallel between this and the future of Palestine.
The Nkomati Accord was an agreement between apartheid South Africa and Mozambique, then chaired by Samora Machel, not to support insurgencies against each other. That South Africa’s support for apartheid the Mozambican rebels forced a famous revolutionary leader to abandon his support for anti-apartheid resistance movements seemed a remarkable surrender. Since the liberation movements were based on bases in states like Mozambique, mainstream experts saw this as a fatal blow to the militant struggle against apartheid and a sign that white domination would continue for so long. many years.
But only a year later, rebellion in the townships forced the government of PW Botha to declare a state of emergency. A year later, then United States President Ronald Reagan was forced to sign comprehensive anti-apartheid law, introducing sanctions, and negotiations that ended apartheid began within six years.
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According to leading experts, the Palestinians also ran out of options just a few weeks ago. The Trump administration had closed the door to a Palestinian state and crafted the Abrahamic Accords, in which some countries in the region normalized their relations with the state of Israel. Although these countries worked with the Israeli authorities anyway, it was touted as the end of united Arab support for Palestine. The Biden administration was unwilling to change much of that; Israel seemed to have a blank check to do whatever it wanted.
There is no law in history that says people who are dominated always win in the end – Native Americans didn’t and neither did Native Australians. It was therefore not absurd to suggest that the Palestinian people could be defeated forever. Israeli rule seemed so powerful that a Palestinian party in the Israeli parliament signaled its willingness to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But do the horrific events of the past few weeks indicate that, as in South Africa in the 1980s, the “victory” of the Israeli state could turn into defeat in the longer term? Two factors suggest that this could be the case.
First, it was important to witness the nighttime horror on our screens, but it may distract from why this wave of violence started. One trigger was the Israeli state’s attempt to remove Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem so that their homes could be ceded to Israeli Jews. It was, of course, a typical apartheid forced estrangement once so familiar to South Africans.
This is nothing new to Palestinians – land theft is at the heart of their nightmare. But the popular response to this could open up new horizons. While the Palestinians have resisted for decades, Palestinian analysts and activists agree that the resistance has drawn very broad support this time around, including many Palestinians who have stayed away from politics.
Another cause has been Israel’s latest attempt to restrict the religious rights and freedom of movement of Palestinian Muslims in Jerusalem. The goal, many Palestinians believe, is to make life impossible for them to leave (apartheid authorities have made life as difficult as possible for blacks in the cities in the hope of making them leave). Israeli authorities have restricted Palestinians’ access to Damascus Gate Square after Ramadan prayers.
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Then, Israeli security forces stormed al-Aqsa Mosque on the holiest night in the Islamic calendar, perhaps in part because meetings in support of Sheikh Jarrah were held daily at the mosque. This is what sparked rocket attacks against Israel.
There is nothing new about the Israeli state storming the mosque, but again the depth of resistance has been wider and deeper. Palestinian writers, including some who were not politically active, speak of a new unity and a new resolution.
Palestinian scholar Azzam Tamimi argues that the protests are new because they unite Palestinians within the borders of 1948 Israel with those of the occupied territories and the global diaspora. They are led, he adds, by a new generation of young people who, because the independent state offered the Palestinians a path to freedom collapsed in the face of the expansion of Israeli lands, are no longer distracted. by the hope of a state and demanding equality from Israel.
Stronger Palestinian resistance would cause far more problems for the Israeli authorities than the violence that tends to make the news. Like the apartheid state, they are militarily strong but vulnerable to popular resistance.
Greater support for Palestine
The second shift is occurring outside of Palestine – in public opinion in the United States and Europe, which are key sources of support for Israel. Nothing has changed at the government level, where politicians and officials trot the usual clichés about “Israel’s right to defend itself” and claim that the attempt to rob Sheikh Jarrah’s people of their homes or to intimidate the Muslim faithful never took place. But many of those countries have seen huge protests against the Israeli state, and more and more sports and cultural celebrities are rejecting Israel’s actions.
The most remarkable change has occurred in the Senate and Congress of the United States. Not so long ago, the Senate supported the actions of Israel without a dissenting voice, not even that of Senator Bernie Sanders. Today, more than 30 senators, including Democratic majority leader Charles Schumer, who regularly brags about his support for Israel, called for a ceasefire.
It may not sound very bold, but it asked for something that Israel’s political leaders don’t want, which has not happened for decades. In Congress, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks, who is usually found in establishment ranks, has supported refusal to sell arms to Israel until he ends rights abuses of man. He stepped back, but the fact that he said it at all was remarkable.
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Politicians have changed because opinion within the Democratic Party has shifted dramatically towards supporting Palestinian rights and opposing the Israeli state. For the first time in living memory, there are now political costs to Democratic politicians singing the tune of Israel – a few have lost their seats.
The links forged between the Black Lives Matter movement and the Palestinians, which may have started in Ferguson, Missouri, when Palestinians discovered that the tear gas used by police against protesters was the same as that used by the state Israeli and offered advice on how to deal with it.
None of this means that the United States and Western Europe are about to pressure Israel to negotiate a democratic settlement with the Palestinian leadership. But Israel fans in the media are warning him that the tide is turning against him. Once the tides start to turn, they have a habit of gaining momentum. Taboos against supporting equal rights for Palestinians are being broken and this seems to be the start of a trend.
We don’t know how long-lasting these changes can be. But there are signs in the wind that, like the Nkomati Accord, the recent successes of the Israeli state have marked the pinnacle of its power and that the political battle for a free and democratic Palestine is gaining ground. the extent.