Response to Dan Diker
Is Dan Diker asking South Africans to forget our own liberation struggle? In his piece on May 18, Diker justifies Israeli violence against unarmed Palestinian protesters using the “terrorism” claim.
When 69 protesters were killed in Sharpeville, the apartheid security forces claimed that they were PAC terrorists.
Police said that they were acting in self-defence when they shot them in cold blood.
In 1976, the apartheid government claimed that our liberation movements were using children as human shields in Soweto. Now, we hear the same propaganda from Dan Diker.
When Diker dismisses Hamas as a terrorist group, it reminds us South Africans of the ways in which we were demonised by the apartheid government’s propagandists. We remember the apartheid regime’s well-funded media campaigns waged against us throughout the world that aimed to isolate and falsely label the ANC, PAC and the Black Consciousness Movement as “terrorists”.
We remember how the apartheid government called on the world to deny our leaders entry. Governments in North America, Europe, and elsewhere - including Israel - heeded that call and placed our liberation movements on their terrorism blacklists, and closed their doors to our leaders. During that time, it was the Palestinians who supported our struggle against apartheid. Some of those who helped vilify our liberation movements are now arguing that the values and strategies of Hamas are the opposite of South African liberation movements. This is false. Like our liberation movements, Hamas was formed as a response to political oppression.
Both movements adopted the liberation of their people and land through a comprehensive struggle: internal uprisings, a sanctions campaign to isolate an apartheid regime, and armed resistance.
The right to resist was universally celebrated and absolute for us South Africans in our struggle, so it cannot be questionable for Palestinians.
Apartheid Israel continues to brutalise Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Gaza is an open air prison whose population is collectively, and brutally, punished for choosing Hamas as its representatives.
Submit or fight. These were the two choices facing South Africans during our struggle against apartheid. Like us, Palestinians have also chosen to fight, and refuse to submit to Israeli apartheid.
In Gaza, the world is witnessing an apartheid regime killing peaceful protesters. The world did not ignore Sharpeville, and South Africa cannot ignore Israel’s apartheid against the Palestinians.