EE remains in solidarity with the Palestinian people and against Israeli apartheid, ethnic cleansing and colonial violence.
Our 2015 statement drew particular attention to the aftermath of Israel’s war on the people of Gaza in July/August 2014:
“We regard the war on Gaza as an example of horrific collective punishment that must be condemned in the strongest terms. Between 2 140 and 2 310 Gazans were killed during the assault; 70% of those killed were civilians, including 513 children and 12-15 journalists. …
It is reported that at least 26 schools were completely destroyed in the assault. The Palestinian Authority estimated in September 2014 that the rebuilding of Gazan homes, schools and other vital infrastructure will cost around $7.8 billion; this rebuilding remains reliant on foreign aid and is obstructed by Israel’s unwillingness to allow building materials to enter Gaza. In the meanwhile, Palestinian children die from exposure to harsh weather in bombed-out houses and learners in 228 schools are educated in damaged facilities.”
18 months after this horrific act of state terror, only 15% of families displaced have been able to return to their homes – over 90 000 Gazans remain homeless. Meanwhile in the West Bank, Israel erected 91 new checkpoints and roadblocks to restrict Palestinian movement just between October 2015 and January 2016. By the end of 2015, the number of Palestinian children in the Israeli military prison system was at an 8 year high of 428 – 80% of these children are facing charges of stone-throwing, for which Palestinians can be imprisoned for 10-20 years under laws passed in 2015.
In the past five months, over 170 Palestinians, including children, have been killed by occupation forces and Israeli settler vigilantes. In February alone at least 7 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli forces. During the same five months at least 27 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean, have been killed by Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks. This cycle of violence and death is sure to continue unless Israel is made to end its occupation and Palestinians obtain a just outcome to their dispossession and an end to their oppression.
Zionism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing
The above facts are symptomatic of the Netanyahu government’s commitment to a broader project of apartheid and ethnic cleansing that has been proceeding steadily since 1948. With the active support of the government and security forces, the settler population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has grown by 23% between 2009 and 2015 – there are now almost 550 000 illegal settlers living in the OPT.
The political situation in Israel gives us no indication that this flow is likely to slow down, let alone reverse, in the short-, medium- or long-term. The stated long-term goal of the right-wing Zionist movement in Israel and internationally has always been the expansion of the Jewish state all the way up to the River Jordan. These political forces have become more violent in their rhetoric and practice, more repressive and anti-democratic in their policies and more dominant politically in the last two decades than ever before.
We condemn those who rhetorically commit themselves to a “two-state solution” while constantly acting to defend or support the deepening of annexationist policies in the OPT, and Apartheid policies in Israel and the OPT.
We note that even Israel’s Labour Party, the so-called “peace camp”, has recently ceased to pretend that it is committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the short term. This demonstrates a Zionist consensus, from right to left, as the 50th anniversary of the post-1967 occupation draws near, in favour of continued domination over Palestinians and disregard for international law. As long as the major political opposition to right-wing Zionism in Israel is “liberal” or “left-wing” Zionism, it is clear that no just resolution of the conflict will be forthcoming.
As we have argued before, Zionism as a whole is an inherently racist political project that systematically oppresses and dehumanises Palestinians in the same way as any other colonial ideology:
“The political and economic interests of apartheid South Africa required that black people remained disenfranchised and poor. The Zionist movement requires the same, if not worse, for the Palestinians. This means that we must oppose it in all its forms, in Israel and in South Africa. We know from our own history that good intentions do not count for much; racist ideologies clothed in liberal rhetoric remain racist, and must be opposed.”
As such, the solidarity movement should support allied Jewish political formations that reject Zionism and are committed to justice for the Palestinian people.
We want to be clear that Zionism is not the same as Judaism, as the broader movement for solidarity with the Palestinian people has continually asserted. The former is a racist political movement, and the latter is an identity and religious tradition that deserves respect like any other. We reaffirm that anti-Semitism will always be incompatible with the commitment to equality and justice that underpins the solidarity movement. Further, it has the effect of undermining the Palestinian struggle for self-determination as it is invoked by Zionists to justify the on-going oppression of the Palestinian people.
Apartheid Education in Israel
On 9 March 2014/during IAW 2014, Equal Education released a press statement detailing the educational discrimination suffered by Palestinian learners inside Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The statement emphasised deep, racially-mediated inequalities in Israel’s education system:
– Jewish schools receive over three times more state funding than Palestinian Arab schools in Israel.
– Only four teacher training institutes operate in the Arab education system, compared to 55 in the Hebrew education system.
– Arab students are dramatically underrepresented in Israel’s universities and other institutes of higher education. Arab academics constitute only about 1.2% of all tenured and tenure-track positions in Israeli universities, leaving Arab citizens marginalized in the production of knowledge in society.
– Educational disadvantage for Arab Israelis begins from the first stages of the formal education; in 2007/8 around 67.4% of Arab two- to five-year-olds were enrolled in kindergartens, compared to 84,9% of Jewish children in the same age group, a gap that is larger in the youngest age groups.
We call on the Israeli government once more to equalise and fully integrate education within its borders.
The Palestine solidarity movement in South Africa
Equal Education considers itself part of the movement in this country for solidarity with the Palestinian people. Those fighting against oppression and injustice will always have the critical support of our movement of learners, parents, teachers and community members.
It is in this spirit that we support the international campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Companies and individuals that profit from military occupation and the illegal extraction of resources from Palestinian land must be isolated and made unwelcome on our campuses and in our shopping malls.
The South African movement for Palestinian freedom needs to become fully inclusive politically, religiously and socio-economically to succeed in these campaigns. Freedom for Palestine is a moral cause that everyone can support. We salute the hard work that has gone into building the solidarity movement in South Africa, but affirm that it is not the possession of any one political party, grouping or set of organisations. We echo the sentiments of Muslim Youth Movement Western Cape Chairperson, Minhaj Jeenah, in this regard:
“The movement must be claimed as a radical collective movement that is intersectional and decentralised. It must direct both our revolutionary anger and our love for freedom, justice and equality through principled, uncompromising and intelligible strategies.”
The ANC-led government must walk its talk
Lastly, Equal Education is concerned with the way in which government agencies have maintained business arrangements established with Israel by the apartheid government through the continued purchase of militarised “crowd management” equipment. This is the same equipment that is tested on the Palestinian population and then deployed against student and community protests in South Africa and globally. This is a clear indication that the ANC-led government has not lived up to its promise of supporting the people of Palestine unequivocally.
We call on the ANC to instruct its deployees to cut all ties with the state of Israel and on the government to implement a strict moratorium on new contracts with any Israeli companies. Israel’s Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) is a vital part of a self-perpetuating, self-justifying apparatus that provides a multi-billion dollar incentive for the continued oppression of the Palestinian people. The fact that our government is complicit in supporting it must be condemned in the strongest terms.
 Ma’an News Agency, “Ministry: Death toll from Gaza offensive topped 2,310” (2014). [Online] Available at:http://www.maannews.com/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?id=751290; Ali Abunimah, “Israel world’s second most lethal country for journalists in 2014, watchdog says“ (2014). [Online] Available at: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israel-worlds-second-most-lethal-country-journalists-2014-watchdog-says
 Bede Sheppard, “Gaza’s education in rubble” (2014). [Online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bede-sheppard/gazas-education-in-rubble_b_5810462.html
 Reuters, “Gaza rebuilding will cost $7.8 billion” (2014). [Online] Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/gaza/11075376/Gaza-rebuilding-will-cost-7.8-billion.html
 Al Jazeera, “Palestine copes with deep freeze” (2015). [Online] Available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2015/01/palestine-copes-with-deep-free-2015111121442509370.html;
 OCHA, Humanitarian Bulletin: Occupied Palestinian territory. [Online] Available at: http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/ocha_opt_the_humanitarian_monitor_2016_01_05_english_0.pdf
 Al Jazeera, Palestinian stone throwers face up to 20 years in jail. [Online] Available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/07/palestinian-stone-throwers-face-20-years-jail-150721182722412.html
 Ben Norton, “74% of Gaza homes destroyed by Israel in summer 2014 war have not been rebuilt, as violent repression escalates”. [Online] Available at:http://www.salon.com/2016/02/09/74_of_gaza_homes_destroyed_by_israel_in_summer_2014_war_have_not_been_rebuilt_as_violent_repression_escalates/
 The Electronic Intifada, The Month in Pictures: February 2016. [Online] Available at: https://electronicintifada.net/content/month-pictures-february-2016/15866
 Yahoo, Israeli soldier dead in West Bank Palestinian stabbing attack [Online] Available at: http://news.yahoo.com/two-palestinians-stab-israelis-west-bank-shot-police-160224459.html
 Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. XXXVI, No. 1 (Autumn 2006).
 The Guardian, Airbnb lists properties in illegal Israeli settlements. [Online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jan/12/airbnb-listings-illegal-settlements-israel-palestine-west-bank; B’Tselem, Settlements: statistics. [Online] Available at: http://www.btselem.org/settlements/statistics
 New York Times, Only separation can lead to a two state solution. [Online] Available at: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/02/29/opinion/international/only-separation-can-lead-to-a-two-state-solution.html?referer=
 GroundUp, “Apartheid: South Africa’s history, Palestine’s reality?” (2013). [Online] Available at: http://groundup.org.za/content/apartheid-south-africas-history-palestines-reality
The Central Bureau of Statistics (Israel), New Survey—Investment in Education 2000/1, 3 August 2004 (Hebrew).
Adalah, “The Inequality Report: The Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel”(2011), p40. [Online] Available at: http://adalah.org/upfiles/2011/Adalah_The_Inequality_Report_March_2011.pdf.
The Central Bureau of Statistics (Israel), Statistical Abstract of Israel 2009, No. 60, Table 8.4.
 The daily vox, Why the Palestine solidarity movement in South Africa has to evolve – or become irrelevant
 City Press, Israeli firm supplies SAPS with cannons. [Online] Available at: http://city-press.news24.com/News/israeli-firm-supplies-saps-with-cannons-20151221
 Ha’aretz, Israel’s arms exports increased by 20 percent in 2012. [Online] Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israel-s-arms-exports-increased-by-20-percent-in-2012.premium-1.492990