OPINION by Ibrahim Vawda
As Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (approximately 66% of Palestinian population worldwide) enter the 70th year of forced displacement from, and within, their ancestral homeland, Israel continues to create intolerable living conditions which further swell the number of displaced Palestinians. This ongoing Nakba (‘catastrophe’) is perpetuated through Israel’s denial of the Palestinian refugees’ Right of Return, the right to self-determination as well as other human rights violations.
Further, Palestinians are subjected to systematic discrimination, harassment and violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers and the military alike.
Meanwhile, the Gaza Strip and its residents – some 80% of which are registered refugees – are plunged further into humanitarian crisis, choked by Israel’s ongoing punitive closure of this enclave which prevents desperately needed recovery following multiple rounds of Israeli military assault.
The “occupation” is merely the symptom and not the cause of the oppression and suffering of the people of Palestine. Zionism is the problem.
It is time that the powers that be acknowledge Zionism as being a racist and truly oppressive policy. Indeed from its very inception, Zionism viewed Palestine as a land without a people for a people without a land. This arrogant denial of the existence of the Palestinian people did not originate out of ignorance. It was an expression of virulent and violent racism.
The year 2017 is upon us. It is a critical year that ushers in not only the 50th Anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank, but it is also the centenary of British Lord Balfour’s 1917 Declaration to European Zionists that “Britain views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…”
The dispossession of the Palestinians, then, did not begin in 1967, but in 1917, as Mandate Britain, an imperial power played global chess with other European powers.
The on-going present hunger strike by the Palestinian prisoners held in Zionist prisons is a symptom of the resistance of the Palestinian people against this occupation as a result of Zionist bigotry.
The Media Review Network South Africa calls on the public and the South African Government to stand in solidarity and raise your voices against the largest remaining colonial entity based on violations of international law, human rights, injustices and dehumanization. Let the 15th of May be a day where South Africans join together to remember the people of Palestine and the inhumane treatment imposed on them by the Zionist regime.
Ibrahim Vawda is a researcher and writer for the Media Review Network, a Johannesburg based lobby group.