By Ramzy Baroud

On 16 September, I visited South Africa, a country where many Palestinians have always felt welcomed, if not overwhelmed by the degree of genuine and meaningful solidarity. While having the honour to address many audiences in six major cities, I have also learned a great deal. An important and sobering lesson is that while apartheid laws can be dismissed in a day, economic apartheid and massive inequality can linger on for many years. Thanks to my interactions with many South African intellectuals, activists and ordinary folk, I learned not to romanticise the South African struggle, a crucial lesson for those of us fighting to end Israeli apartheid in Palestine. 

My hosts at the Afro-Middle East Centre ensured that I met with diverse audiences, including top members of the African National Congress, the leadership of the country’s two major trade union federations, anti-apartheid scholars and activists, and a large number of students and other people throughout the country.

The main, obvious, conclusion from all these meetings and interactions is that South Africans are serious about their solidarity with Palestine, and that they see themselves as partners in the Palestinian struggle for justice and peace. While South Africans are always ready to take their solidarity with Palestine to a whole new level, however, there is a general feeling that decisive political moves can prove costly for South Africa.

True, the South African government has taken several steps in the right direction. On 14 May 2018, Pretoria recalled its ambassador to Israel, Sisa Ngombane, to protest the killing of hundreds of unarmed protesters taking part in the Great March of Return in besieged Gaza. On 5 April 2019, it began to actively downgrade its ties with Israel, in response to a call made by the ANC conference in December 2017.

While these steps are significant, South Africa is yet to take the kind of action that, when combined with others measures of international solidarity, could finally force Israel to dismantle its system of Apartheid in Palestine. The problem is not the lack of willingness nor that of diplomatic doublespeak. There is a growing, and justifiable, sense that Arab governments no longer see the liberation of Palestine as a common objective. While the Arab peoples remain committed in their support of Palestinians, Arab governments have fallen into warring camps and political divisions. 

Yet, a top ANC leader told me that South Africa’s policy regarding Palestine is guided by the agendas of the Arab League and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Sadly, neither the Arab League nor the PLO are serving the roles they were entrusted with decades ago. The former is mired in divisions, and the latter has been effectively replaced by the provisional, factional Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Using ineffectual organizations as a legal and moral frame of reference is hurting South Africa’s chances of converting its solidarity with Palestine into tangible political assets. 

The other dilemma is that the African continent itself is no longer united regarding Palestine. Israel has successively driven a wedge between African countries, which, at one point, were united in their unconditional support of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli military occupation and Apartheid. 

Israel’s successes in Africa, especially through the penetration of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have made Tel Aviv a political player on the African continent. Boosted by the welcome he received from various African leaders, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had hoped to hold the ‘Israel-Africa Summit’ in October 2017. Thanks to the efforts of African countries like South Africa and Algeria, the conference was postponed indefinitely. 

If Israel continues to score political victories while facing little resistance, however, it will eventually dominate the African continent. The absurdity of this goes beyond the struggle in Palestine. A continent that was ravaged by colonialism, racism and apartheid should not embrace the likes of Israel, the exemplification of the very ills that have cost Africa so dearly for hundreds of years. 

In fact, the issue of solidarity with Palestine and the pressing need to block Israel’s scourges in Africa are intrinsically linked. In this very link, South Africa can find a way to reclaim its natural role as a vanguard against racism and apartheid everywhere. 

My suggestion to the ANC was that South Africa should update its frame of reference, moving away from tired clichés of a defunct, two-state solution and such, to a whole new way of thinking. And it should not go about doing it alone; all of Africa and all Palestinians should be part of this effort. 

I strongly believe that South Africa is ready to counter Israel’s efforts on the continent by initiating an Africa-Palestine Conference, a major gathering that aims to harness all the solidarity for the Palestinian people throughout all African countries. Whether such a conference is held under the auspices of the African Union (AU) or independently by a single member state (or even a political party), the gathering of like-minded African and Palestinian leaders, parliamentarians, scholars and civil society leaders can develop a new frame of reference, which South Africa, the African continent, and, in fact, the rest of the world can use as a guiding principle of new thinking on Palestine. Based on the call made by Palestinian civil society in 2005 to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, the Palestinian people have been demanding and expecting this new thinking for at least fifteen years. 

Those who might find the idea that Africa can lead the way on forming a new, global understanding on Palestine far-fetched need to remember that it was the Organization of African Unity’s resolution 77 (XII) of August 1975 that recognised and condemned the ‘organic link’ between ‘the racist regime in occupied Palestine and the racist regime in Zimbabwe and South Africa’. That very resolution served as a major frame of reference used in UN Resolution 3379 of November 1975, which determined that ‘Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination’.

Africa must reclaim its position as a global leader in the fight against racism and apartheid, and South Africa is very qualified to spearhead these efforts, because, after all, as iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela once said, ‘We all know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’

*Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of The Palestine Chronicle. His most recent book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story, and his forthcoming book is These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons. Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter. In September 2019, he spent ten days in South Africa on a book tour hosted by the Afro-Middle East Centre

Outsourcing Repression is a collection of analyses and essays on the roots, manifestations and consequences of paradigm of security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).  The book discusses four key themes:  the evolution and reform of Palestinian security forces and security coordination since the inception of the Oslo Accords;  the militarisation of Palestinian aid and the foundation of a police state;  the outsourcing of repression and sponsorship of authoritarianism; and the criminalisation of Palestinian resistance as a consequences of donor-driven security sector reform of the Palestinian Authority security establishment.

Outsourcing Repression is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the security framework of the Oslo Accords, as well as the mechanism of control that Palestinians are subjected to, and the additional layers of repression and authoritarianism that Palestinians in the Occupied Territory have faced since 1993.  This volume will be of  interest to a wide -range of readers, including academics, policymakers and activists who are concerned about rights, justice, freedom, and dignity in Occupied Palestine  

He has just recently written a book "The Last Earth - A Palestinian Story" which tell the stories of dispossession, exile, and loss of ordinary Palestinians.... but it is also about hope and residence in modern Palestine.

Ramzy Baroud Book Tour

The Afro-Middle East Centre is honoured to host well-known Palestinian journalist and author, Dr Ramzy Baroud, for a book tour in South Africa to launch his most recent book, The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story.

Baroud will be addressing audiences in six cities across South Africa: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Polokwane. See the full list of events below. Click here for poster adverts for all his events. Apart from his book launches in different cities, Baroud will also be hosted Palestine solidarity organisations for public lectures in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and Polokwane.

Ramzy Baroud is a US-Palestinian journalist, media consultant, author, internationally-syndicated columnist, editor of Palestine Chronicle (1999-present), former managing editor of London-based Middle East Eye (2014-15), former editor-in-chief of The Brunei Times, former deputy managing editor of Al Jazeera online. He taught mass communication at Australia’s Curtin University of Technology, Malaysia Campus. Baroud also served as head of Aljazeera.net English’s Research and Studies department. He is the author of four books and a contributor to many others; his latest volume is The Last Earth, a Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). His books have been translated into several languages including French, Turkish, Arabic, Korean and Malayalam, among others. Baroud has a PhD in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter (2015), and was a non-resident scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara (2016-17). His forthcoming book is These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggles and Defiance in Israeli Prisons. He is currently a non-resident scholar at Istanbul Zaim University’s Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA).

Baroud’s work has been published in hundreds of newspapers and journals worldwide, including The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, Arab News, The Miami Herald, The Japan Times, Al-Ahram Weekly, Asia Times, Al Jazeera, Gulf News and nearly every English language publication throughout the Middle East. His work is regularly translated and republished in French, Spanish, Arabic and other languages. He has contributed to and was referenced in hundreds of books and academic journals.

He has been a guest on many television and radio programmes, including RT TV, CNN International, BBC, ABC Australia, National Public Radio, Press TV, Aljazeera and many other stations.

He is the author of four books: Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion (Cune Press, Seattle, 2003); The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London, 2006); My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London, 2010); and The Last Earth, a Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). Baroud is also the co-author, with Samah Sabawi and Jehan Bseiso, of the poetry collection: I Remember My Name (Novum, 2016). His books are available in French, Turkish, Arabic, Korean and other languages.

Baroud has been a guest speaker at many top universities around the world, including George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Rutgers University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Manchester, University of Ireland, University of Washington, Penn State University and the University of Kwazulu Natal in South Africa.

Baroud spoke and conducted book tours in over twenty-five countries.

 

Johannesburg Events

Date and Time

Events

Venue and Time

Monday,
16 September 2019
18:30 – 20:00

Ramzy Baroud public lecture hosted by Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA), South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP) and Media Review Network (MRN)

Suleiman Nana Memorial Centre, Crosby

 

Tuesday,
17 September 2019
18:00 – 20:00

Public Meeting hosted by Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA), Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP), Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and Media Review Network (MRN).

Baitun Noor Hall, Lenasia, Topaas Street, Ext 5, Lenasia

 

Wednesday,
18 September 2019
12:00 -13:00

Launch of The Last Earth:  A Palestinian Story, with Ramzy Baroud, hosted by Afro-Middle East Centre and Institute for Economic Research on Innovation (IERI)

IERI Boardroom, 159 Nana Sita Street, Pretoria

 

Wednesday,
18 September 2019
18:30 -20:00

Launch of The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story with Ramzy Baroud, Daryl Glaser and Karima Brown, hosted by Afro-Middle East Centre and Department of Political Studies at Wits

Robert Sobukwe Room 207, Wits University

 

 

Durban Events

Date and Time

Events

Venue

Thursday,
19 September 2019
15:00 - 17:00

Public lecture: "Palestinian struggle: Opportunities and pitfalls", with Ramzy Baroud hosted by KZN Palestine Solidarity Forum (KZN PSF)

Women’s Cultural Group Hall, 222 Kenilworth Road, Overport

 

Thursday,
19 September 2019
18:30 -19:30

Launch of The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story, with Ramzy Baroud, hosted by Al-Qalam and Afro-Middle East Centre

Suleman Lockhat Auditorium, 222 Kenilworth Road, Durban

 

 

Port Elizabeth Events

Date and Time

Events

Venue

Friday,
20 September 2019
18:30 – 20:00

Launch of The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story, with Ramzy Baroud, hosted by Afro-Middle East Centre, Black Management Forum and Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy

The Anthenaeum, 7 Athol Fugard Terrace, Port Elizabeth Central

 

 

Cape Town Events

Date and Time

Events

Venue

Sunday,
22 September 2019
14:00

Launch of The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story, with Ramzy Baroud, hosted by Afro-Middle East Centre and Muslim Youth Movement and Al-Ikhlaas Library and Resource Centre

Islamia Auditorium, 409 Imam Haron Road, Lansdowne, Cape Town

Monday,
23 September 2019
18:30

Public Meeting: "The crisis in the Middle East, Israel’s influence in Africa and prospects for Palestine’s liberation", hosted by Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Solidarity Centre, AIDC, 129 Rochester Road, Observatory

 

Polokwane Events

Date and Time

Events

Venue

Tuesday,
24 September 2019
11:00

Launch of The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story, with Ramzy Baroud, hosted by AMEC, UNISA, NEHAWU, YCL, ANCYL, SASCO, ANC and PSA

Main Hall, 24 Landdros Mare Street, UNISA Polokwane Central, Polokwane

Tuesday,
24 September 2019
14:00

Launch of The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story, with Ramzy Baroud, hosted by University of Limpopo and Afro-Middle East Centre

M Block, University of Limpopo

 

 

 

 

 

Books

Outsourcing Repression

September 26, 2019

Outsourcing Repression is a collection of analyses and essays on the roots, manifestations and consequences of...

The Battle for Justice in Palestine

December 22, 2015

Buy your copy now Winner of the 2014 Palestine Book Award Efforts to achieve a “two-state solution” have fin...

Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East

October 29, 2015

Buy your copy now While the outcomes of the tumultuous uprisings that continue to transfix the Arab world rem...

Tomorrow's Battlefield: US Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa

October 13, 2015

Buy your copy now You won’t see segments about it on the nightly news or read about it on the front page of A...

What is AMEC?

What is AMEC?

Established in 1998, the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) aims to foster, produce and disseminate the highest quality of research on the Middle East, to maintain public discussion and to help shape the public discourse on issues related to the Middle East. Amec's research includes relations between Africa and the Middle East.

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