The struggle of Palestinians is also the struggle of every colonised person and a threat to justice

Photo: Taqi Spateen's mural of George Floyd at the Israeli separation will in the Occupied West Bank by Yumna Patel

Western individualism has coached us to believe that conflicts in the global south and worldwide are separate to us, whether that's racism, capitalism, imperialism only affects those that are directly oppressed. The goal of the capitalist ruling class has been to erode solidarity whether by race, class, gender, or even geography. Dividing our struggles can mislead us to the mentality that Palestine isn’t our problem, which is dangerous. The ongoing genocide of Palestine by Israel has been documented globally, exposing links between the West and Israel previously unknown to some. Social media has rightfully made us wake up to the struggle in countries on the other side of the world. Atrocities seen through our phones have fuelled our anger, our activism, and our unity to stand with those who need help. We’ve slowly recognised that the struggle of Palestinians is also the struggle of all colonised people worldwide, battling against the forces of colonialism and capitalism. 

When one hears the word apartheid, South Afrcia usually comes to mind. The divide between Black and White South Africans, as well as the struggle and eventual freedom of president Nelson Mandela. The global understanding of apartheid as an oppressive immoral structure, has rarely been applied to the situation in Gaza, though several of its central tenets apply according to B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the UN. Despite apartheid being a violation of human rights, and considered a crime against humanity, Israel has for decades seemed to get away with it as the world turned a blind eye. As the event from the 7th of October still dominates a lot of our thoughts, most of us have woken up to the violence that Palestians have been enduring for years. When we look at the struggles with Palestine and South Africa, it’s almost impossible not to compare the two. A majority of South Africa’s apartheid was through the exploitation of labour against Black South Africans, compared to Palestinians where they need permits and security checks to even work and travel across the West Bank. In some cases, the oppression faced by Palestinians goes beyond what was experienced during the 1960s in Cape Town. 

South Africa didn’t have separate roads, yet in the West Bank, the roads network have a purpose in separating the streets of Palestine and Israel. This facilitates Israel’s settler colonialism. Roads connecting illegal settlements allow settlers to illegally live on and set up businesses on Palestinian land, whilst protected by a strong military presence. A striking difference between these two apartheid states is that South Africa was not able to maintain racial segregation thanks to pressure from boycotts, awareness from organisations such as The Coloured Peoples Organisation, and The African National of Congress (ANC), which led to its demise. As we assisted in the end of segregation in Cape Town, we must do exactly the same for those in the East. We do this by critiquing the economic and military power Israel has over Palestians through their links to the Western World, particularly the US and the UK. We should be vocal about the reasons the UK government and opposition recently ruled out a ceasefire. British banks such as Barclays, Citibank, and HSBC all hold offices in Israel, with Israeli banks, such as the Mizrahi Tefahot bank also set up in the UK. Financial cooperation between these two countries is one of the many factors that drives their connection and allows for partnership in whatever deals will work to their benefit. Palestine, without the same financial power, is not part of a shared economic ecosystem with wealthy nations, which mitigates shared interest. Oppression doesn’t just come in the form of military violence, but also through economic strength. A plethora of nations who have been colonised are at the disposal of these wealthy nations. 

Angela Davis book, freedom in a constant struggle, highlights the deep links between the US and Israel in a military context. Israel's military base is considered the most powerful in the Middle East. It receives more than $3.8bn of military assistance a year from the US. After Qatar, Israel is the second largest spender on their military equipment. Until 2017, G4S, one of the largest private organisations, and the biggest private security company in the world, operating in 85 countries with more than 80,000 employees. ran Israel's training for their police force, helping to maintain the oppression of Palestinian prisons in Israel. Political prisoners under the Israeli government were managed by G4S, who were able to use different ways of torture and behaviour that violated human rights through their power. Under the disguise of security, G4S have been highly involved in maintaining apartheid, the use of technology, and the nature of prison schemes and detention centres all over the world. G4S presence in the Western world is subtle but very much alive. One of their most profitable industries has been through deportation. Since 2006, in the US, they’ve provided transportation for people being removed from the US to Mexico but have been accused of mistreating those under their care. Up until 2020, they ran two immigration jails in the UK, right next to London Gatwick Airport: Brook House and Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centres, but had reports of abuse. They still however, run four private prisons in the UK, but have been hit with multiple allegations of abuse, including violence, prison labour and child abuse. If we notice the similarities between how G4S treats Palestinian prisoners and prisoners in the UK, the joint nature of their respective struggles is obvious. 

Photo: Junior Kahhah/AFP via Getty Images

On the other side of the world, power and control when linked to neo-liberalism, is why the Democratic Republic of Congo has been suffering a genocide as they are used for their natural resources such as gold, casserite, cobalt, coltan, tin, and more for technology. This may seem distant to the worries of those on the other side of the world but we are still involved through our consumption.They own 70% of the world's cobalt, which is used to make phones, electric vehicles, laptops, and much more technological devices we use everyday. It is estimated that the average electric vehicle needs more than 13 kg of Cobalt, and a phone around 7g. As countries opt for a modern society with technological cars, the demand will only increase to 222,000 tonnes by 2025. Congo is at the centre of the extractions and decarbonisation. This leads to a major risk of exploitation of resources which has negatively affected their ecosystem and caused a surge in pollution. There is a desperate need for people to get their hands on these resources at the expense of people having to dig up these metals. Congo is the second largest country in Africa, and is estimated to have more than $23 trillion worth of resources, but also is believed to have more than 40’000 children working in awful conditions within the mines for far less money. Countless residents have been forced to move as plans to expand mines are already on the go. This is similar to the forced extraction and displacement of Palestinians, known as the Nakba when around 750,000 Palestinians were made into refugees, 15,000 killed in mass atrocities from 1947-1949. Neo-colonialism here operates under the disguise of cultural dominance as more than 70% of Palestine was proclaimed as Israel. We must question what solidarity actually means on a global standpoint and understand the intricate ways capitalism operates around different places in the world. If our understanding of struggles are within a specific geographical lens, we lose sight of how these systems are interconnected. The different struggles for liberation extend past race. Intersectionality is a necessity which will allow us to build strong and effective solidarity, and give us the ability to support colonised people around the globe. If we believe and act in the logic of division then we fall victim to the interest of capitalism which is the root of separation.

Article by Serena Richards


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