The Nakba, or the 'catastrophe' started in 1948 for the Palestinians but it has not ended since. Between 1947 and 1949, Zionist paramilitary forces ethnically cleansed and eradicated over 500 villages and towns in Palestine, displacing 750,000 Palestinians and taking over 78% of the land. Palestinians call this process the ‘Nakba’, or catastrophe. Palestinians continue to suffer the indignity of living under an apartheid settler colonial state, which is enforced by a military occupation and Apartheid Laws. There is on-going displacement, home demolitions, religious and racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing which privileges Israelis and illegal Israeli Jewish settlers. The Nakba did not end in 1948. It is an ongoing catastrophe and 15 May remains an important commemorative day in the Palestinian calendar. More resources on The Nakba can be found on our website.
Due to the importance of the day, as PSA we embarked on a campaign which solely focused on spreading awareness on what happened to the Palestinians during the Nakba. We engaged in a number of different workshops in schools, universities, and community-based groups. We managed to reach about 1036 learners in schools and engaged a number of individuals in the community. We also attended the Commmemorating the 74 years of Al Nakba picket held outside the Israeli Embassy by the Wits PSC and the SA BDS Coalition. The picket was followed by a motorcade to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) where a memorandum was handed over to the Director General Zane Dangor. Along with our workshops, we also hosted a 2-hour radio show, in partnership with SalaaMedia, which featured panelists from Palestine, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. The recording of the show can be found here. Our work to unify the solidarity for Palestine across the African continent continues. While Africa reels from the effects of colonialism and still struggles to decolonise, Palestine faces colonisation at the hands of the illegal state of Israel. Our struggles are interconnected and intersectional with many, may they be young or old, working tirelessly to ensure that we live in a decolonised and socially just society.
This Youth Month we pay tribute to the Youth in South Africa who stood up against the oppressive Apartheid regime and raised their voices to dismantle Apartheid and bring about justice and equality. The fervour with which the Youth work towards ensuring that our society is a just and equal one is unmatched. The Youth no longer will be inheriting this Earth, such thinking is of the past. Albeit, the Youth are actively building society to be what they aspire it to be. They are no longer passive recipients of their social positions but are actively engaged to end injustice and Apartheid everywhere. We draw inspiration from the Youth who lead us, in South Africa and in Palestine, working tirelessly to dismantle systems of oppression and challenge unjust status quos. We will be engaging in a number of different campaigns to celebrate the Youth and the role that they play in being active agents of social change in our society and world. Keep an eye on our social media for more details of these campaigns. If you would like to be involved in our Youth Month initiatives, email us so that we can add your voice in calling for change 🏽
"We will return.
That is not a threat
not a wish
or a dream
but a promise"
- Remi Kanazi
Legacy of Apartheid continues through Israel
Apartheid South Africa (1976) vs Apartheid Israel (2012)
In South Africa, June 16th commemorates the plight of South African youths as they fought for the recognition of their rights under the Apartheid Regime. What began as a peaceful demonstration in Soweto ultimately resulted in a significant paradigm shift regarding the country’s socio-political landscape.
The initiation of the Soweto Uprising is attributed to the implementation of the National Party’s ‘Bantu Education Act’ – which restricted black students’ ability to acquire accessible, high-quality forms of education – in 1953. Upon the enforcement of the usage of the Afrikaans language alongside English as a means of teaching within schools, unrest amongst black students began to fester. On June 16th 1976, numerous students took to the streets of Soweto, protesting against the government’s education mandate. Despite the peaceful nature of the demonstrations, students were met with teargas and live ammunition, thus, resulting in a countrywide revolt against the government. Through the memorialization of this day, South Africans remember the power of the youth and their ability to instigate socio-political change in their strife for justice.
However, the importance of youth-led protests extends beyond the South African context. Since the mid-20th Century, Israeli forces have occupied and exploited Palestinian territory and citizens. The Israeli government has orchestrated numerous humanitarian crimes directed at the Palestinian people. Palestinians are subject to forced evictions, unprovoked incarceration, and other forms of mistreatment at the hands of Israeli authorities. Israeli militia has engaged in unlawful, targeted attacks on medical facilities and personnel. Furthermore, through sustaining an illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, Israel has restricted Palestinian citizens’ freedom of movement in the West Bank.
Resistance from Palestinians is largely met with disproportionate amounts of violence from Israeli authorities, similar to what was experienced under Apartheid South Africa. The terrorist Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has a 'Shoot to Maim' policy where live ammunition is used against Palestinian civilians with the knees and legs of the Palestinians being the main target, permanently crippling them intentionally. This tactic was used by the South African Defence Force to quash resistance and break the spirits of the people resisting the Apartheid system. Yet, Palestinian civilians have refused to surrender their rights and continue to fight against the oppressive Israeli Regime. Youth-led organisations such as the ‘Palestinian Youth Movement’ and independent young activists work relentlessly to achieve liberation for the Palestinian people, showcasing the importance of the Youth in resistance movements globally.
Much like in South Africa, youth activism in Palestine has the potential to alter the course of the Palestinian people. Their dedication to justice has resulted in the ‘Free Palestine Movement’ gaining more traction globally. By contesting the narrative conveyed by their oppressors and actively fighting against subjugation, the Palestinian youth bring the world closer to establishing a free Palestine. The Youth have made a pledge of a Free Palestine in their lifetime and they aim to resist and fight until this is achieved 🏽
European Union’s attacks on Palestinian education
Palestinian students in Ramallah, West Bank on 23 January 2022 Issam Rimawi Anadolu Agency
"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” These words, written in 1978 by Bantu Steven Biko, still emphatically resonate in 2022 – both in South Africa and in Palestine. Each country faces an immense battle to shed the yoke of imperialism that represses liberatory imaginations and moulds the minds of the oppressed. After twenty-eight years of democracy, South Africa’s education system has not yet institutionalised the anti-racist spirit that fuelled the 1976 Soweto uprisings. That same spirit is fuelling resistance in Palestine, where imperialist apparatchiks are at work to restrict the Palestinian school curriculum.
Thirty-two members of the European Union (EU)’s Parliament recently penned a letter to the European Commission, calling for the EU to cut funding to the Palestinian education system. Indeed, the EU has delayed almost €215 million in aid to Palestine since 2021 over this issue. As a result, terminally ill patients are unable to receive medicines, teachers’ salaries have been cut, and thousands are unable to receive food aid. This is all because Zionist lobbyists within the EU want to colonise the minds of Palestinian children.
The EU Parliament only supports aid if Palestine’s education system promotes colonial ideology. Such ideology conflates the definition of anti-Zionism with antisemitism, and prevents Palestinians from learning about the Nakba, Israeli apartheid, and other Zionist atrocities. The aim of this curriculum is to embed a sense of permanence into Israel’s occupation, to stifle resistance, and to render Palestinians strangers to their own land. It is not enough for Israel to physically remove Palestinians from Palestine. Ethnic cleansing is also a mental phenomenon.
As South Africans, we are far too familiar with the effects of colonial education. We recall the student uprisings of 1976 against the Bantu education system, designed to train black people to be nothing more than hewers of wood and drawers of water. Inspired by the Black Consciousness Movement, students in Soweto revolted against this system. Their calls to decolonise the pedagogy resonated throughout the country and inspired protests against the apartheid regime for years to come.
These calls remain with us today. They were prevalent in the #FeesMustFall movement, in the Michael Komape trial, and in several other ongoing campaigns for quality, decolonised, antiracist education. South Africa has one of the world’s most unequal schooling systems. The gap between the test scores of the top 20% of schools and the bottom 80% is larger here than in nearly every other country. 78% of grade 4 learners cannot read with understanding – and they are still largely taught in a language that they do not speak at home. The coloniality embedded in South Africa’s education system is widely prevalent and inequality remains entrenched with regard to resources, pedagogy, and educational outcomes.
The EU withholding aid in order to colonise the Palestinian curriculum crudely resembles the South African apartheid state withholding funds in order to colonise faith-based mission schools. It also shares some semblance to modern, market-oriented curricula that is found in schools and universities today. Ultimately, these funding models do not aim to develop critical thinking or provide education to all. Instead, they primarily function to create an obedient workforce that services and reinforces existing power structures.
Israel’s Gaslighting Playbook
Wall painting of Muhammad al-Durrah in Gaza artist unknown wikipedia
Gaslighting describes the abusive practice of manipulating someone into doubting their own sanity. The state of Israel is well-versed in this practice. Their efforts to distort the truth and deflect responsibility for its crimes have a long and ongoing history. In the wake of Shireen Abu-Akleh’s martyrdom, we are reminded of Muhammad al-Durrah, the twelve-year-old who was murdered by Israeli Occupation Forces. We are reminded of the military’s brazen refusal to admit culpability for al-Durrah’s killing. We are reminded of their persistent efforts to conceal the truth, to defame those who pursue it, and to shamelessly promote their lies over the graves of countless innocent Palestinians.
On the second day of the Second Intifada, bullets from Israeli Occupation Forces rained down on Muhammad al-Durrah and his father, Jamal. They took shelter for forty-five minutes behind a concrete cylinder before being attacked by a flood of bullets from the Israeli military. There is devastating video footage which shows how Jamal attempted to shield his son before bullets ripped through Muhammad and he slumped to the ground. These horrifying images scar our memory in a similar manner to the mortifying pictures of Hector Peterson and other children who were murdered by Apartheid South Africa.
According to B’Tselem, Israel killed 951 children in the West Bank and Gaza between 2000 and 2008. Pictures of the slain Muhammad al-Dura grew to symbolise the ruthless violence of the Israeli military against children and Palestinians in general. The video footage also became a site of controversy as the Zionist regime tried to discredit it to avoid accountability for its crimes. At different stages, Israel changed their official narrative of events. At first, the military admitted to the killing, blaming it on the use of “human shields.” They later retracted this statement and instead blamed the killing on Palestinian resistance forces. When all of their excuses were proven to be false, Israel went so far as to say that Muhammad had never been killed and the entire video was staged.
We see a similar narrative of events unfolding with the death of the renowned journalist, Shireen Abu-Akleh. Israel’s gaslighting playbook is well known. After committing a crime, the state will frequently issue misinformation to obfuscate the truth and cloud the common-sense narrative of events. Another key tactic is for the state to attack the character of eyewitnesses, journalists, or anyone telling the Palestinian side of the story. Victims and reporters are often painted with Islamophobic tropes – accused of being terrorists, Hamas-sympathisers, or voluntary human shields. People who object to Israel’s version of events are then labelled antisemites.
Linking South Africa and Palestine: the Mavrix
In our art corner this month we pay tribute to The Mavrix. The South African band fuses African, Indian classical, and folk-rock musical elements with hard-hitting lyrics to create a sound that is both spiritual and political, touching your innermost heartstrings and stretching them to another side of this world. Their brand of conscious storytelling is at once soothing and incisive, like an inspiring quote from a fallen freedom fighter being narrated to you in a dream by your late grandparent.
These elements are particularly prevalent in the song, The New Black, which draws parallels between apartheid and colonialism in South Africa and Palestine. The song is features Mohammed Omar from Gaza on the oud, and was the first musical collaboration between artists from the two countries. The sombre melody provides an emotional backdrop to spoken-word poetry, with lyrical references to the Palestinian plight and resistance. "This is my time to be your conscience," reverberates down your spine in a chilling reminder that the struggle against apartheid is not yet over.
The Mavrix' music is a timeless reminder of the power of art to develop awareness, understanding, and empathy across language and culture. It encourages you to embrace the beauty and multiplicity of humanity. This sometimes gets lost in the more formal portrayals of war and violence. As we strive to build deeper and meaningful solidarity with Palestinians, we would do well to take inspiration from The Mavrix. They are a shining beacon of light that exemplifies the power we all hold to bring more empathy, love, and compassion in our day-to-day lives.
Okuhle Esethu at the PSA IAW Poetic Resistance poetry evening [image: Marta Garrich]
History. By Okuhle Esethu.
History does not repeat itself but it rhymes.
Some ghosts never die but move on to haunt others.
As South Africans,
Our tongues carry the history of apartheid.
We know her like we know the road to freedom.
Know our names.
Know our brothers and sisters
Know our ancestors.
Know our history.
We know apartheid like we know our history
We know apartheid and the trails of traumas and dead bodies she leaves behind.
We are still cleaning up her mess.
We are still healing from her last visit.
So we understand when women and men in Palestine groan in agony.
When children have to stomach death before their ABCs.
When a human being becomes a walking tombstone because of their ethnicity.
When families cannot build homes in their own home.
We know apartheid because she was here before.
DEAR SOUTH AFRICANS AND THE REST OF THE WORLD
There is a bloodbath on the streets.
Israel is fighting his brother Palestine.
Apartheid has found herself a new home.
Given the privilege of oxygen,
Some Palestinians live long enough to see their homeland become a slaughter house
Situated in a hostile land where human beings are assorted like vegetables based on ethnicity
They build their homes and dreams on quick sand
The threats of eviction lurk within their vicinity
History never repeats itself but it rhymes.
We may not understand the lyrics to your pain but we feel it in the harsh piercings of your screams.
We hear you.
We can relate.
We cannot tell you when she will leave.
We cannot tell you if they’ll ever regard you as human beings.
Even here, black people are still walking coffins, especially those who cannot afford the price of whiteness.
We cannot tell you how much you’ll rejoice or mourn when she finally leaves.
But we stand by you and we will fight the entrenched system that dehumanises you
You are now part of history
History never repeats itself because it can be rewritten.
Activist Profile: Altaaf Adam
Altaaf Adam at a PSA protest
Altaaf has been a member of the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) since 2014. He is the chair of the PSA Youth League, and has also served in a number of other roles. As a dedicated activist, Altaaf has been central to the functioning of the PSA, building relationships in the SA-BDS Coalition, organising flagship events and protests, and developing and conducting workshops at the grassroots.
In 2016, Altaaf was invited by the Higher Council for Youth and Sport to visit Occupied Palestine. Israeli Occupation Forces, however, denied him entry after interrogating him for nine hours. This anxiety-ridden ordeal resulted in his deportation and served as a stark reminder of how Israel intimidates and represses anyone deemed to be supportive of Palestinian rights. This was not enough to break his spirit, however, and Altaaf remains committed to promoting human rights and improving the lives of all people.
Outside of the PSA, Altaaf is involved in several organisations dediated to community outreach and skills development. He serves as the director on the boards of Mindful Skills and Aquanation Swimming Academy. He has also founded Constellation One-Five-Zero, which is a non-profit-organisation involved in several community empowerment and charitable projects and causes. The organisation has made an impact in the lives of many who were adversely affected by the coronavirus health pandemic, hunger crises, and other socioeconomic ills.
We take courage and draw inspiration from Altaaf’s example as a committed activist and humanitarian. We are well aware that injustice can only be overcome when it is challenged and confronted. As a young leader in the PSA, Altaaf has brought people to the cause and made it easier for those around him to show active solidarity with the people of Palestine. For this, we thank him.
Apartheid Free Zones
No winter warmth for cold hearts.
Picture from Media Review Network (Instagram)
Apartheid Free Zones (AFZ) is a principled campaign to cut links of complicity with Israeli apartheid. The campaign draws inspiration from the international anti-apartheid movement for South Africa, and aims to replicate such solidarity with Palestinians.
The idea is to create spaces of proactive solidarity across the world. As people of conscience, we want to ensure that the spaces that we participate in do not contribute to the maintenance of an apartheid regime or profit from grave human rights violations. We urge all people in South Africa to make your home an Apartheid Free Zone.
Boycott Cape Union Mart, Poetry, K-Way, Old Khaki and others.
Make your home an Apartheid-Free-Zone by boycotting companies which support Apartheid Israel. Cape Union Mart is one such company. The conglomerate is owned by the South African businessman, Philip Krawitz. Krawitz received the Yakir Keren Hayesod award in 2015 for his fundraising efforts for Israel during the 2014 attacks on Gaza, where 2,310 Palestinians were killed, including 551 children.
The Cape Union Mart Group is a conglomerate of retail chains. Besides for Cape Union Mart stores, the group also owns other retail brands like Poetry, Old Khaki, Tread+Miller, Keedo, and Sparks & Ellis.
K-Way is the flagship brand of Cape Union Mart. It has grown in popularity in recent years, particularly amongst the youth. We urge all people of conscience to boycott Cape Union Mart and K-Way until its owner ceases all complicity with apartheid Israel.
This winter, do not warm your body but keep your heart cold. Boycott Apartheid Israel. Do not buy K-Way. Do not support Cape Union Mart.
What comes next?
In South Africa June is celebrated as Youth Month. The issues faced by the youth in South Africa link to the issues faced by the youth in Palestine. Lack of access to education and youth unemployment are amongst the numerous issues which link youth struggles across the continents. In order to bolster youth solidarity between the two countries, PSA is a part of a global student network which links students and the youth from South Africa to not just Palestine but the rest of the African continent as well. The development of this network in underway. If you would like to be a part of this network, do not hesitate to contact us. We are planning activities for the month of June around youth solidarity and activism. Keep an eye on our social media for more details of these or email us to see how you can get involved.
We have also partnered with SalaaMedia and will be talking about all things Palestine during our weekly radio segment on Tuesdays at 7:30pm. Tune in to hear our guest of the evening talk to Moulana Luqmaan about Palestine and its intersection with South Africa. Livestream of the programme can be found on Youtube and their website.
Over the course of the next few months, we will be launching our next few campaigns which will form the focus point for us for the rest of the year. These campaigns will include education and training workshops, media and writing workshops, anti-war and political prisoners solidarity campaign, and art and poetry showcases. Our focus area for the month of July will be Palestinian food insecurity and land, women's month for August, and political prisoners for September. If you would like to be involved in any of these, reach out to us via email or fill out our volunteer form. We look forward to engaging with you!
Donate to PSA and help us continue the work that we are doing!
If you are a supporter of a free Palestine but do not have the capacity to be actively involved in the liberation movement, you can still help and support us by donating towards our efforts. Our banking details are:
Account Name: Palestinian Solidarity Alliance
Account No: 4070101666
You can also email us on email@example.com for more information
Our month in pictures
PSA joined the SA BDS Coalition outside the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria for a Nakba Day protest
PSA Nakba Day workshop in schools which aimed to empower the youth by engaging, interacting, and discussing the links between Apartheid South Africa and Apartheid Israel. The learners and staff were also asked to sign an Anti-Apartheid Pledge.
The PSA Anti-Apartheid Pledge
PSA hosted a Nakba Day workshop with the Sisonke Revolutionary Movement comrades
PSA hosted a 2-hour radio programme on the 15th of May, in collaboration with SalaaMedia, to commemorate the 74th anniversary of Al Nakba
Join the PSA Youth League, PSA, The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Youth Programme and affiliates for the Youth Parade on the 16th of June!