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The Electronic Intifada

Apr 18, 2024

Over the past six months, millions of people worldwide have taken to the streets to demonstrate in solidarity with Palestine and to demand that their governments call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

Many governments have responded and even the US abstained – rather than vetoed – a UN Security Council Resolution in March calling for a temporary ceasefire during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Spain, Ireland, Slovenia and Malta have also committed to recognizing a Palestinian state, joining eight other EU member states, including Poland and Sweden who have already done so, even though the EU as a whole has yet to take this step.

Nevertheless, Israel has continued its genocide in Gaza, seemingly unconcerned. And crucially, Israel’s most important allies, the US and the UK, have remained largely unmoved and continue to support Israel diplomatically and militarily, with little to no regard for popular feeling.

This prompts the question of whether we have reached the limits of what Palestine activism can achieve or whether the current popular momentum can turn into an Apartheid South Africa moment, a moment of global solidarity that led inexorably to the collapse of South Africa’s racist regime.

To discuss this, and more about the parallels and differences between Palestine activism and the anti-Apartheid movement, The Electronic Intifada talked to two veteran activists. Ghada Karmi has authored several books on Palestine, including her latest, One State: The Only Democratic Future for Palestine-Israel, as well as a memoir, In Search of Fatima that detailed her family’s flight from Jerusalem during the 1947-49 Nakba.

Andrew Feinstein was a long-time anti-apartheid activist who became a parliamentarian for Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress party after the country’s first free elections in 1994. The son of a holocaust survivor, an experience that informed both his and his mother’s opinions on apartheid and Palestine, he is the author of a book about the ANC, After the Party, as well as an investigation into the global arms trade, The Shadow World.

“The imperative is to stop the genocide and to stop the ethnic cleansing,” Karmi said And while resolution might seem far away, ultimately, she said, “the only realistic, practical, just and humane endpoint to this is the creation of a proper democratic state, in which both these peoples become equal citizens.” Feinstein pointed out that situations can change faster than expected.

"In 1986, when I had to leave South Africa, if someone had told me apartheid would be over four years later, I would have used my training as a clinical psychologist and offered them a straitjacket."

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