South Africa and China International Student Protests, Hypocrisy, and the Case for a Palestinian State

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Published May 14, 2024


Dr Jaya Josie, Adviser China Africa Center, Zhejiang University International Business School (ZIBS) and Adjunct Professor University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the University of Venda (UniVen)

“The mother of all hypocrisy!” This is how Mustapha Barghouti, in a program on Aljazeera, described the position of the USA threatening to veto a Security Council review of the UN General Assembly’s overwhelming vote in favour of granting Palestine statehood status in the UN. Mustapha Barghouti is General Secretary, Palestinian National Institute.

In fact, the Israeli representative at the UN displayed utter contempt and disdain for the UN and its members by shredding the UN charter in front of all its members, thus implying that Israel was above international law and recognising that whatever Israel does it will be protected by the USA.

This level of hypocrisy and double standards was further underlined when Naledi Pandor, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, addressed the second anniversary commemoration for Shireen Abu Akleh, Aljazeera journalist, who was assassinated on 11 May 2022 in Jenin, in the Israeli occupied West Bank of Palestine.

At the UN Security Council China has time and again raised the alarm at the level of the genocidal killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the West Bank.

In the USA, the UK and Europe, the level of hypocrisy and double standards displayed by these governments has not gone unnoticed by thousands of students from across many countries in the west demonstrating and marching in support of Palestine. Demonstrations and sit-ins across universities in the USA has raised awareness about the plight of Palestinians and the ongoing genocide in the Gaza and West Bank.

Naledi Pandor, highlighted Western blatant double standards in dealing with the assassination of Abu Akleh and the genocide in the Gaza, while at the same time very quickly charging the Russian president and African heads of state with war crimes in the International Criminal Court (ICC). Pandor, in fact exposed the arrogant and blatant use of power by the members of the Congress of the USA who threatened the prosecutor of the ICC with sanctions if he dared institute warrants of arrests against leaders of the Israeli cabinet against whom charges have been brought by South Africa and other countries in the UN.

The so-called freedom and democracy in Israel were also completely exposed as a sham when on 5 May 2024 the same Israeli cabinet took a decision to ban Aljazeera from reporting from Israel. This decision was a frontal attack on freedom of the press and suppresses the only media house that reports on the genocide in the Gaza and the West Bank.

At the UN General Assembly (UNGA) 143 countries voted in favour of granting Palestine full membership of the UN and only 9 voted against and, 25 abstained. Amongst the countries that voted in favour were all the members of the BRICS + group and most members of the African Union accept for Malawi that abstained. Prior to this resolution on 18 April 2024 Algeria had moved for the formal recognition of Palestine in the UN.

This was indeed a significant move by Algeria and was reminiscent of Algeria’s resolution in the early 1970s against the South African apartheid government and, supporting the anti-apartheid liberation movement to be granted membership of the UN. This move led to the imposition of sanctions against, and the eventual isolation of the apartheid government in South Africa and the end of apartheid.

During this period the international anti-apartheid movement and mass student boycotts against the apartheid regime in South Africa resulted in the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners and, the post-apartheid South African state. It is now also significant that the new democratic South African state stood up to condemn apartheid Israel and bring a case of genocide against the Israeli government and, a case of war crimes against members of the Israeli government at the ICC.

Victims of settler colonialism and apartheid in South Africa know only too well the pain and suffering that Palestinians are currently enduring in the Gaza and the occupied West Bank. Much to the horror of the world community the USA vetoed the Algerian resolution on the 18 April 2024.

In his statement, China’s UN representative on the Security Council, Ambassador Fu Cong, said it was a sad day and described the veto as dashing the hopes of the Palestinian people. He highlighted that the an independent Palestinian state had not only been a long cherished dream of Palestine but was also supported in the UN by many countries including the USA.

The Ambassador negated the arguments that Palestinians are not peace loving and reasserted China’s long-held position that Palestine independence with statehood is the inalienable national right of the Palestinian people and in keeping with the UN principles. The current invasion of Gaza and attacks in the occupied West Bank is tantamount to blaming and attacking the victim of over seventy years of oppression and apartheid.

Following the overwhelming UNGA vote to recognise Palestinian membership on 11 May 2024, exactly two years since the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh, China expressed full support for the UN Security Council to review Palestine’s bid for UN Membership. It should not escape anyone the Abu Akleh was a journalist of Palestinian origin with US citizenship and yet two years on the ICC is still to bring criminal charges against the perpetrators of this killing or the killing of many other journalists caught up in the brutal oppression of the Palestinian people.

The killing and martyrdom of many young people, women and children presaged the final end of settler-colonialism and apartheid in South Africa. From 1968 up unto 1994 students, black people and black workers rose up against apartheid oppression. In 1968 up to 1975 student uprisings in the USA also led to the eventual peace negotiation that brought an end to the American war in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

The same can be said about the student uprisings in South Africa that were also supported by student and anti-apartheid protests across the world much in the same way that students and young people are awakening to brutality of Israeli apartheid against the Palestinian people.

In a recent twitter post by Bruno Macaes a historically relevant and significant interview with Zbigniew Brezezinski (adviser to USA President Jimmy Carter 1977-81) is presented in X in which Brezezinski characterised the situation in Israel and Palestine then as a people who were once persecuted, and now in 1970s and 1980s were persecuting Palestinians in Palestine and Lebanon. This resulted in the USA and Israel being isolated internationally. He went on to describe how at that time the Palestinians were turning to violent forms of resistance and how Israelis are becoming more and more like the White South African supremacists.

Looking at what’s happening in Palestine today the interview with Brezezinski raises what Ambassador Fu Cong called coming around to a full circle of the devastating consequences of the failure of the USA’s international policy in the Israeli war on the Palestinian people in the Gaza and the occupied West Bank. It is fast reaching the stage today where Israel and the west in general may find themselves once again isolated from the rest of the world.