During the few past weeks, the media followed up on the lawsuit that South Africa had filed on 29 December 2023 with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Israel for the crimes it commits against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including ethnic cleansing and acts of genocide. ICJ took a historic decision on the matter on 26 January 2024; it condemned Israeli practices, and required it to take several measures to end its attacks until it stands trial before ICJ, which could extend over several years.
But why did the initiative to take Israel to court for its crimes come from South Africa rather than any other country which some would think are more worthy of this initiative? I have been receiving several video footages that answer this question for which many have sought an answer. I present here two replies that I came across through video footage; both are void of the usual political bickering that pits the pros and cons against each other.
A Palestinian talking on al-Sharq Youth platform says: “Just look at Namibia… Do you know Namibia’s story? How Germany slaughtered Namibians in 1904. The German caesar took a decision to annihilate the people of Namibia; to exterminate all men and children, and only keep women for sexual pleasure, and to reproduce children having German fathers, who would become the [new] indigenous people of the country. All other people were to be exterminated. The catastrophe is that the Germans offered justifications for this crime. They said that Namibia’s indigenous people were not humans; they are an intermediate phase between animals and humans, they argued, so killing them would be in the benefit of humankind. [Wikipedia cites a reference where one missionary reported: “The real cause of the bitterness among the Hereros (indigenous Namibians) toward the Germans is without question the fact that the average German looks down upon the natives as being about on the same level as the higher primates, “baboon” being their favourite term for the natives, and treat them like animals. The German settler holds that the native has a right to exist only in so far as he is useful to the white man. This sense of contempt led the settlers to commit violence against the Hereros.”]. Accordingly, from 1904 to 1908, 75 per cent of Namibia’s inhabitants, men, old women and children were killed, only young women were spared. This was as per a decision by the German emperor; the text of the decision itself is stored in the German National Museum, and Germany can never deny it. Today, 120 years later, Germany is standing by Israel in ICJ to spare it from the accusation of the crime of genocide against the people of Palestine. I can only say to the Germans: ‘Shame on you! Aren’t you ashamed of your history? You would have done better to at least keep your silence, given what you did against the people of Nambia.’ The Namibian Foreign Ministry issued a statement which said: ‘Shame on Germany which has slaughtered and killed us, and to date has not compensated us enough; it paid us USD1 billion for the crime of slaughtering 75 per cent of our people, whereas it pays billions of US dollars to Israel every year. Germany should have offered an official apology to the people of Namibia, instead of standing with Israel for the new massacre it is committing.’ Africa has started to realise that Palestine’s plight nowadays is similar to its own plight and struggle against western hegemony. Even Latin America now is embracing the same stance. We Palestinians must realise that through our resilience we are setting precedence to the whole world, not just to the Arab and Islamic world… So what is required of Palestinians today? To realise that we are leading the world, and set a model on how humans should be respected and upheld against injustice and unjust people.”
Another video footage shows a face-off between Israel and South African deputies in the International Human Rights Council. Israel’s deputy asked: “Did I hear you correctly saying that the atrocities that we are speaking about, the beheading of children, that those are fake news, that it’s not true, is that the position of the South African government, I want to ask you now?”
South Africa’s deputy replied: “It is evidence that has been provided by a range of non-governmental organisations, both in Israel and Palestine… we know that there’s a lot of fake news that attempts to cast Palestinians in a bad light. And it has been admitted, even from the White House spokesperson, that that statement that was made at the highest level was actually proven not to be factual… It’s important, as I said at the start of my contribution, that when we speak on these matters, let us speak being honest and factual. The facts are the people of Palestine are denied the right to exist as human beings. They’re denied the right to enjoy the freedoms and the rights we so love as South Africans, the rights and freedoms we fought so hard for, the rights and freedoms we united on as a diverse South African people. Today, some of us in this House, believe these rights belong to some and not to others. That is not the South African way. We believe all human beings enjoy the right to exist in freedom enjoying justice and humanity. And that is the message that has to come out of this House. This House cannot stand up for abuse, cannot stand up for the infringement of other human beings, no matter who those human beings are. We’ve never sought retribution… Because today I’m part of seeking to build a better South Africa and our role must be to seek to build a better world, that that benefit we enjoy of human rights, of a fantastic constitution, of having institutions that are democratic and work for all of us…If we are true to ourselves, if we are true to our history, if we are true to what we’ve achieved, we will stand up and say what is being done to the people of Palestine is wrong, is intolerable and we will not pretend to accept it.”
9 February 2024