Activists, students discuss anti-colonial experiences in South Africa and Palestine

Palestinian activists and Birzeit University students and professors explored the South-African anti-colonial experience and its connection to the Palestinian fight for independence in a seminar organized by the Center for Development Studies on Tuesday, February 19, 2019. 

The seminar, organized in cooperation with the “Together for Change” youth group, featured Ashraf Suliman, South Africa’s ambassador to Palestine; Wasel Abu Yousef, a representative of the PLO’s national and Islamic political parties; and a number of activists and researchers. 

Linda Tabar, director of the Center for Development Studies, noted in her welcoming remarks that the seminar − held during the Israeli Apartheid Week − emphasizes the important role of youth in the fight for Palestinian independence, as they comprise 50 percent of the Palestinian population. 

“The Israeli apartheid system attempts to create a generation of young people who are oblivious of their rights to a state,” Tabar said, adding that “Youth must be empowered to counter these efforts.” She also hailed South Africa as an inspiration for anti-apartheid, anti-colonial movements, especially for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. 

Abu Yousef stressed the similarities between the South-African and Palestinian experiences and highlighted the aim of colonial movements to sow discord and disunity among Global South countries. 

Suliman, after giving a brief overview of the history of South Africa and segregation, addressed the Palestinian people, saying that only they can bring about change and decide their future by resisting occupation and apartheid.  

Emphasizing South Africa’s support for Palestine, Suliman mentioned that 42 pro-Palestinian organizations exist in the country. 

Maher Jumhoor, a member of “Together for Change,” briefly outlined the group’s aims and objectives and gave a presentation on joint resistance to colonialism that unites Palestine, South Africa, and the Global South. 

The seminar featured three speakers: Haidar Eid discussed the similarities and differences between the Palestinian and South-African experiences; Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the BDS campaign, presented a study of the campaign as a form of resistance; and Mohammad Qa’dan, a “Together for Change” member, outlined the acts of Israeli apartheid under the recent Nationality Law.