Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mukoma Wa Ngugi, "What Palestine is to me: An interview with Fatima Hassan," Pambazuka News, July 24, 2005.

We would particularly like to recognise the joint work being done in occupied territory in Silwan, Bidu, Bil'in, Budrus, Na'alin and Hebron. This work is being done by the popular committees of these villages and cities, along with organisations including Ta'ayush, Children of Abraham, Anarchists Against the Wall, Combatants for Peace, Breaking the Silence, Active Stills, the Parents Circle, B'Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Coalition of Women for Peace, and Yesh Din.
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: Well, let's get straight to it: A Independent Newspaper article quotes you as saying "The issue of separate roads, [different registration] of cars driven by different nationalities, the indignity of producing a permit any time a soldier asks for it, and of waiting in long queues in the boiling sun at checkpoints just to enter your own city, I think is worse than what we experienced during apartheid." But the same article goes on to say that "Ms Hassan herself said she thought the apartheid comparison was a potential "red herring." Can you speak more about this?

FATIMA HASSAN: I think that the debate/discourse about whether this is Apartheid or not is not helpful. Too often people get bogged down in whether this IS Apartheid or not. And then use this as the measure of whether the situation in Palestine and Israel is intolerable from a legal and moral standpoint. Of course there are similarities in respect of the indignity and inhumaneness of the consequences of the occupation. And of course people in Palestine and Israel call the wall the 'apartheid wall' because it is premised on a policy of separation and closure.

But the context is different and the debate on whether this is Apartheid or not deflects from the real issue of occupation, encroachment of more land, building of the wall and the indignity of the occupation and the conduct of the military and police. I saw the check point at Nablus, I met with Palestinians in Hebron, I met the villagers who are against the wall- I met Israeli's and Palestinians who have lost family members, their land and homes. They have not lost hope though ---and they believe in a joint struggle against the occupation and are willing in non-violent means to transform the daily direct and indirect forms of injustice and violence.

To sum up – there is a transgression that is continuing unabated– call it what you want, apartheid/separation/closure/security – it remains a transgression.

Read the whole interview here=>

Fatima Hassan, is a prominent South African human rights lawyer who was part of a South African Human Rights Delegation ( that in early July visited the Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The delegation undertook the mission in order to: "support those, Palestinian and Israeli, working daily, by non-violent means, to bring an end to the post-1967 Israeli occupation, to end all human rights abuses and breaches of international law, and to move towards peaceful relations and a just express solidarity with those who are living in oppressive, restrictive and dangerous circumstances; and to to draw attention to the injustice of the occupation and its devastating consequences." Mukoma Wa Ngugi interviewed Fatima Hassan on the solidarity visit and the implications of the Palestinian struggle for Africans.Recommend this Post

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