Throughout his life, Mandela was a dedicated champion of the cause of Palestinian freedom. He famously remarked, “We know too well that our freedom will be incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” Indeed Israel (a supporter of the apartheid regime in South Africa) was one of the few countries that didn’t invite Mandela to visit when he was released from prison in 1990.
Mandela wasn’t the lone figure from South Africa who drew parallels between the way the whites treated the blacks in South Africa and how the Israelis governed the Palestinians in the Middle East. After a visit to the Holy Land, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, "The treatment of Palestinians by Israelis reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa".
"Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions?" he asked.
Is the Israeli treatment of Palestinians as bad or even worse than apartheid?
Apartheid is an Afrikaans word which literally means “to keep apart.” As a political system, apartheid was institutionalized in South Africa and has come to mean a system that discriminates against people based on ethnicity.
As explained in this article in the BBC, apartheid in South Africa rested on three pillars:
1. Race classification act: classified people into different races and discriminated against those not of a European descent.
2. Mixed marriages act: outlawed marriage between people of different races.
3. Group areas act: forced people of certain races into definite areas.
Even a cursory knowledge of the Israel-Palestine situation reveals that the policies practiced by Israel are not too different from the white apartheid regime in South Africa. In fact, one could argue that Israel’s policies of apartheid and even more sophisticated and repressive than those of South Africa. The state has used a variety of tools to discriminate against it Arab Muslim and Christian minorities.
And just what does apartheid 2.0 entail? Read this slide show to find out.