Palestinians walk at the site of Israeli strikes, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza. Photo: Reuters

By Yahya Habil

As the death toll rises amid the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, and as the world continuously witnesses the dehumanization of Palestinians, Africans should take a step and ponder about what the Palestinian cause means to them.

Many African nations have shown sympathy and solidarity with the Palestinian people.

In fact, African countries were the backbone of the UN General Assembly’s resolution 3379, which had declared Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination.

However, to some Africans, the Palestinian cause doesn’t signify much importance. They feel the Israel-Palestine conflict does not directly affect Africa and Africans. This is perhaps due to geopolitical factors and their view that the Palestinian cause is an ‘Arab cause’.

It is important to understand that the Palestinian cause is not just an Arab cause - it is a human cause.

There have been pro-Palestine protests in Africa since Israel began attacks on Gaza on October 7. Reuters

Being an Arab might only increase familiarity and sympathy with the cause, but it is the cause of all oppressed peoples.

Israel’s colonialism

Moreover, if there is any group of people that should have and can easily acquire sympathy towards the Palestinian cause, it is the Africans.

This is because Africans know colonialism and its evils too well, and colonialism is exactly what Palestinians are currently fighting.

The idea that colonialism is a pre-WWII or pre-1960s phenomenon is a highly warped one. Many think of colonialism in context of the Scramble for Africa with little focus on the Israeli settler colonialism, which is an ongoing phenomenon in Palestine.

It is about time we change this way of thinking, and Africans can spearhead this change since most of colonialism’s worst episodes occurred in Africa.

The new way of thinking and perception should not differentiate between Colonial France and Israel, as they are both colonial entities.

In fact, and probably to the surprise of many Africans, Israeli colonialism is much more aggressive than its French counterpart was, as Israel is not solely a colonial entity, but an exclusionary one too.

Thousands marched in Cape Town, South Africa, in support of Palestine. Photo: SABC

As conveyed through the UN Resolution 3379, Israel’s exclusionary identity molds it into an apartheid state, something Africans are very familiar with.

Israel’s current regime is very reminiscent of Apartheid South Africa, where racial segregation was the law of the land.

Equal rights

This is further supported by South African diplomat Nalendi Pandor’s statement in July 2022, over a year before Operation Al Aqsa Flood, through which she said that “the narrative of the Palestinian people’s struggle evokes experiences of South Africa’s own history of racial segregation and oppression”.

The South African regime as a whole understands this very well, and that is why South Africa always expresses solidarity with Palestine.

The country has condemned Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and even filed a referral to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, seeking an investigation of Israel’s recent actions which South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called ‘’genocidal’’ and ‘’war crimes’’.

South Africa’s recent actions indicate that there is in fact a strong shift towards the aforementioned new, collective perception.

Israel is increasingly categorised alongside colonial entities such as Colonial France and Britain, and alongside apartheid regimes such as the defunct white-minority Apartheid regime of South Africa.

Israeli attacks have killed more than 15,000 Palestinians in Gaza. Photo: Reuters

After all, it speaks volumes when one of the continent’s biggest economies and once the racist state takes such a stand.

Stand up against oppression

And just as the apartheid era ended in South Africa with the establishment of a state that provides both white and black South Africans with equal rights, Israeli apartheid can and should also be abolished.

Africans should continuously call for a binational, egalitarian state that provides both Palestinians and Israelis with equal rights.

In other words, Africans should heed the lessons of their continent’s past experiences.

The lessons learned from the horrors of colonialism and the oppression of Africans would be in vain if today’s Africans do not stand up against all forms of oppression across the globe.

The author, Yahya Habil, is a Libyan freelance journalist focusing on African affairs. He is currently working with a think tank in the Middle East.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT Afrika.

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