Posted on April 27, 2011 by US Palestinian Community Network
On April 7th, 2011, an African American student group known as the “Vanguard Leadership Group” (VLG) sparked a flurry of activity and discussion with its circulation of a statement criticizing the use of the term “apartheid” by Palestine solidarity activists. In particular, in an article published in the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA), they alleged that “Students for Justice in Palestine has chosen to manipulate rather than inform with this illegitimate analogy.”
We, the signatories of this statement, do not believe that “apartheid” is an inaccurate term to describe the conditions in Palestine. Apartheid is defined by the United Nations as, “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” The strategy of arguing over the term “apartheid” is intended to deflect the actual conditions that Palestinians face as a result of the institutionalized racism of the State of Israel.
Apartheid is not a term exclusive to South Africa. In fact, the United Nations itself, in a 1973 resolution, explicitly states that its usage is not confined to the South African case . In addition, well-known individuals like former President Jimmy Carter in his book Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid, have given depth to the apartheid ‘analogy’ by demonstrating the concrete realities of racial separation as it has unfolded in the Occupied Territories.
Others, such as South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have long been outspoken in comparing the conditions that existed in apartheid South Africa with those faced by Palestinians today. In his own words: “What I saw in the Holy Land reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.”
Do the students of VLG presume to know better than Tutu what apartheid is?
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