Michael Bagraim makes an excellent point in his letter to the Sunday Times that ‘there is no Palestinian equivalent of the freedom Charter’. I felt that his point needed to be further expanded on. Comparing the violence in the Middle East to our struggle for a non-racial and democratic South Africa is not only factually inaccurate but also degrades the remarkable achievements of our New South Africa.
Throughout history every movement for political change has had at its core a document encapsulating the ethical basis for its cause. The Freedom Charter was the cornerstone of our Struggle, and similarly the PLO Charter is the philosophical foundation of Yassir Arafat’s Palestinian Authority. Comparing these two documents highlights just how far fetched and insulting, the comparison between the Middle East conflict and our South African Struggle is. One is a tribute to non-racialism and democratic values and the other a declaration of hatred and oppression.
The Freedom Charter reads:
|“We the people of South Africa declare for all our country and the world to know that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no Government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all people; that our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live, in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities: that only a democratic state, based on the will of the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief.’|
|ARTICLE 20- Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. |
ARTICLE 21- The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine...
ARTICLE 22- The liberation of Palestine will liquidate the Zionist and imperialist presence.
As a result of the ideology encapsulated in the Freedom Charter, we have created a society with the political values that are envied the world over. But as a result of the ideology encapsulated in the PLO Charter, it is not surprising the type of society the Palestinian Authority has created in its autonomous areas.
A society which has no respect for human life and where unrestrained violence and hatred are legitimate expressions of national identity. A society which defends the blowing up of school buses filled with children and the killing of innocent civilians in a shopping center. A society in which hands dipped in the blood of lynch-mob victims are raised to cheering crowds. A society in which cultural artifacts and holy sites of other religions are destroyed. A society in which education consists of inculcating small children with hatred for other races, religions and cultures. A society in which children attend summer camps where they are taught that to be a suicide bomber is the highest form of religious statement and for which their parents get paid blood money for such child sacrifice.
There can be no doubt that the Palestinian people have endured much suffering. And it is only natural and proper that we South Africans, who have also endured much suffering, empathize with them. But empathy alone is not enough. We, who were wise enough to choose an ethical form of struggle, need to make it clear that hijacking our struggle as a public relations exercise will not bring credibility to theirs. True freedom comes not from Jihad, which has as its core hatred and violence but from Amandla, which is based on brotherhood and purity of heart.