The South African Anglican Church’s declaration follows years of campaigning by Palestinian activists and human rights groups.
The Christian church’s Provincial Standing Committee approved a resolution on Wednesday defining Israel as an apartheid state and reviewing pilgrimages to the Holy Land.
Amnesty International, along with other NGOs, refers to the conditions Palestinians live under in Israeli occupation as being “apartheid”, referring to the oppressive system of racial segregation in South Africa which was in place until 1994.
“As people of faith who are distressed by the pain of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza – and who long for security and a just peace for both Palestine and Israel – we can no longer ignore the realities on the ground,” the head of the South African Anglican Church, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, said on his blog.
For some reason, the term ‘normalisation’ has been translated into Arabic using the word “Tatbi’”, derived from the Arabic word Tabi’i or natural, when in English, the term derives from normal, which means usual or ordinary rather than natural.
Regardless, the Israeli governments have wholeheartedly embraced the usage of this term, in no less enthusiasm than their emphasis on the peace agreements with the Arab states which they fear would remain superficial and ceremonial if relations are not also fully normalised. Indeed, the quest here is to entrench settler-colonialism in the Arab region and recast it by normalising a system of violent power and domination that contradicts all that is natural and normal. This way, the people of the region should be tamed to accept normal relations with Israel without a just solution of the issue of Palestine and to get used to occupation and apartheid.
The African nations that had boycotted South Africa, refusing to normalise relations with the apartheid regime, were much more impoverished than the Arab nations and more in need of economic ties with the abnormal entity in their neighborhood. These African states were neither more democratic nor less authoritarian than the Arab states of today, yet the Africans, both peoples and regimes, unanimously agreed on opposition to racism and colonialism.
Undoubtedly, apartheid South Africa – and Israel, which remained its staunch ally until the very end – had been a holdover of the era of colonialism. In our region, the unanimity regarding the stance on Israeli occupation, the last remaining unresolved instance of colonialism, at least inasmuch as it was once expressed publicly, has faded.
If we put aside here the moral stance – which should never be put aside except for the sake of argument – and consider instead normalization as a purportedly practical and pragmatic move, we find that in reality, even then, it is not a justification. This applies to both the countries bordering Palestine and those who were never officially part of any wars related to Palestine.