“South Africa filed today an application instituting proceedings against Israel before the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, concerning alleged violations by Israel of its obligations under the Convention on Prevention and…
— Laurence (Larry) Boorstein (@LarryBoorstein) December 29, 2023
This is not the first time South Africa has criticised Israel. Back in October, when the violence had just begun to spiral, President Cyril Ramaphosa and his African National Congress had addressed the press draped in traditional Palestinian scarves, speaking “about the atrocities that are unfolding in the Middle East”.
South Africa’s solidarity for Palestine came from many reasons. First, of course, was its own experience of discrimination and disempowerment, which made it sensitive to what was happening to Palestinians dominated by the Israelis. Like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela spoke up strongly for the rights of the Palestinians. Also, Israel was widely seen as a state propped up by the West’s support, and South Africa had not forgotten the West’s role in perpetuating apartheid. It had reasons to align positions with Russia, which had provided military training to those resisting the Apartheid regime.
But another reason South Africa has stayed steadfast in its support of Palestine is the ruling ANC’s deep links with anti-discrimination activism. In fact, ANC leaders and other opponents of apartheid have long compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to what the White government did to Black South Africans.
Another has been to resist a worldview governed by the West’s stand on important matters. This was also clear when the African nations were being pressured to align against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, and South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, had questioned why the Western powers would not condemn Israel.