Thursday, February 22, 2007

the comfort and arrogance of hindsight

it is amazing how looking back at things allows one the comfort and arrogance to think that we were, would have been, and by extension, are on the right side of the conflict between oppressors and oppressed...

im sure most people would say that would have never supported the South African apartheid regime. or that they think that the South Africans liberation movements were wrong. or that should have met this or that condition before their demands should have been valid or legitimized...

but the fact is that there were such people. many of them. who supported the apartheid regime. who condoned the actions of the apartheid regime. who remained silent about the apartheid regime. who downplayed the stark realities of the lives of black South Africans. who attempted to place pre-conditions on the ANC, PAC, BC, and all other movements before they would support them. and no, not in any military, physical, economic support, but just so that they would morally support them and recognize their struggle as legitimate. who endlessly asked questions about what were the positions of this party or that movement on this or that issue as pre-conditions for their support. who would ask and measure how much blame the black South Africans themselves held for their own oppression...

and so I think about the Palestinian struggle today, in particular (but other struggles as well). and i read these quotes from those who fought in the South African liberation struggle:

"There are things we South Africans recognise in the Palestinian struggle for national self-determination and human rights. The repressed are demonised as terrorists to justify ever-greater violations of their rights. We have the absurdity that the victims are blamed for the violence meted out against them. Both apartheid and Israel are prime examples of terrorist states blaming the victims." - Ronnie Kasrilis

"This is much worse than apartheid. The Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic. We never had jets attacking our townships. We never had sieges that lasted month after month. We never had tanks destroying houses. We had armoured vehicles and police using small arms to shoot people but not on this scale." - Ronnie Kasrils

"Apartheid was all about land. Apartheid was about keeping the best parts of the country for the whites and sending the blacks to the least habitable, least desirable parts of the country. And one sees that all the time here [in the occupied territories], particularly with the wall, now, which is really a land grab. One sees Palestinians dispossessed of their homes by bulldozers. One can draw certain parallels with respect to South Africa that, during the heyday of apartheid, population relocation did result in destruction of property, but not on the same scale as the devastation in Gaza in particular, [or in] the West Bank." - John Dugard

"I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about...Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice." - Bishop Desmond Tutu

And despite these statements by the people who lived through and struggled against apartheid themselves, to see and hear people condone, overlook, ignore, counter, question, deny the Palestinian struggle is saddening. this, from people of "conscience," activists, comrades, or those who claim a desire for justice? actually, it is beyond saddening. it is pitiful. pitiful to think that humans are so fickle yet arrogant. pitiful to be a part of this humanity. pitiful to think that we falter so horribly at even being able to provide some basic simple moral solidarity or support. this pitiful hypocrisy of ours that we will attempt to deny, hide, or forget when victory comes. and surely, victory will come.

"By the passage of time (it is sworn)
Indeed, man is in a state of loss
Except those who maintain faith, those who do righteous work, and (join together) in keeping to truth, and keeping patience in adversity."

- Quran 103:1-3 (Surah Al-Asr)

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