I am deeply disturbed at the announcement that on November 2-4, the South African Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition will be co-hosting the United States of America’s African Growth and Opportunity Forum for 2023. This means that we will be playing host to the president of the United States, Joe Biden, or his representatives amid the intensifying genocidal war on the people of Gaza and on all Palestinians that has now reached fever pitch.
This incomprehensible situation raises at least three fundamental questions for South Africans who profess a “special relationship” with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, dignity, and the right to return to the land.
One – why is South Africa playing host to representative of nations engaged in open, declared genocide, in targeted killings and bombardments of innocent Palestinians, of hospitals and churches? The Israeli embassy is still not closed down, the Israeli ambassador still enjoys South African hospitality, and this country still has not cut ties with a murderous apartheid state, which under the circumstances is the least we should do already, if solidarity with Palestine or even adherence to international law is to mean anything at all.
Two – why is South Africa playing host to the president of the United States, whose country is the most ardent supporter of Apartheid Israel, whose weapons and billions in military aid have kept the occupation and wars of extermination going for 75 years? The US, since the very beginning, has been the main funder and political protector of the Zionist project in the land of the Palestinians, and is, together with Israel, responsible for the slaughter of children we are witnessing right now. Only a week ago Joe Biden’s regime vetoed a resolution at the United Nations which called for the minimum: a ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid to get through. Now we are uttering mealy-mouthed sympathies for Palestine while shaking the blood-stained hand of Joe Biden.
Three – why are South Africans putting up with a president and government, who would rather openly stand with racist occupiers, settler-colonialists, war criminals and genociders than with the brave, suffering people of Palestine engaged in a struggle for the right to live with justice, peace, and dignity?
Is this spineless, unprincipled, shameless stand to be the reflection of the character of our people in Palestine’s darkest hour and greatest need?
Rising up for the sake of Gaza and the children of Palestine is now rising up for our own dignity as a people.
Dr Allan Boesak