[News] Israelis don't need visas for South Africa, but Palestinians do; why the double standards?

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Nov 23 12:29:48 EST 2020

don't need visas for South Africa, but Palestinians do; why the double
Iqbal Jassat ijassat

November 23, 2020 at 9:25 am

When I applauded Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for his firm stance
against "normalisation" with Israel earlier this month, a friend posed an
interesting query. Is it true, he asked, that Israelis don't need visas for
travel to South Africa?

This was an important and timely question, because this embarrassing issue
has been swept under the carpet for too long. The answer is yes, it is
true; no visas are required for Israeli citizens to get into South Africa.

What's more, while Israelis are exempt from this bureaucracy, Palestinians
are not. Regardless of their faith or political affiliation, not only are
Palestinians forced against their will to endure Israeli apartheid in
ghettos across the occupied territories, but they also face the humiliation
of having to comply with apartheid-based visa regulations imposed by the
South African immigration authorities.

The details provided on the Department of International Relations website
make clear the shamelessly hypocritical double standards that are applied.
In addition to having to apply for visas and the delay that the lengthy
process entails, Palestinians have extra burdens placed upon them which do
not apply to Israelis; they have also to provide proof of medical
insurance, proof of a hotel booking and proof that they have sufficient
funds for their stay.

There are a host of restrictions applicable to Palestinians but not to
Israelis, yet we are led to believe that South Africa opposes Israel's
brutal military occupation of Palestine. In fact, by applying such measures
on Palestinians wishing to travel to South Africa, the government in
Pretoria remains an active participant in Israel's illegal, immoral and
unjust occupation.

*READ: As South Africa fought for freedom we must do the same for Gaza,
says Palestine activist

There cannot be any "ifs" or "buts" about such a contemptible, racist
application of visa regulations favouring Israel but punitive towards
Palestine. This matter needs to be redressed without delay, and it must be
explained urgently by the immigration authorities why double standards are
applied which prejudice a people already subjected to the severest of

If the policy has been in place since the apartheid era, we have had more
than 25 years to make the change, so why hasn't it been done yet? And while
officials look into this, they might also explain why Israel's national
carrier, El Al, is allowed to have armed Shin Bet security officials —an
agency involved in war crimes — on board its aircraft at Johannesburg's O R
Tambo International Airport, in direct violation of security policies at
"Key Points".

[image: Israeli women take photos of the El Al airliner's plane, ahead of
the first-ever commercial flight from Israel to the UAE at the Ben Gurion
Airport near Tel Aviv, on August 31, 2020 [HEIDI LEVINE/POOL/AFP via Getty

Israeli women take photos of the El Al airliner's plane, ahead of the
first-ever commercial flight from Israel to the UAE at the Ben Gurion
Airport near Tel Aviv, on 31 August 2020 [HEIDI LEVINE/POOL/AFP via Getty

This controversial issue was exposed by both Media Review Network and Carte
Blanche on the eve of the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa. Nothing
seems to have been done about it, though.

Solidarity activism in support of Palestine's freedom struggle against
settler-colonialism will remain out on a limb unless drastic measures are
taken to ensure that South African government policies favourable to Israel
are decimated. The current treachery by despotic Arab regimes under the
guise of "normalisation" with the colonial state is to be expected
precisely because they are tyrannical dictatorships. South Africa does not
fit that mould, and having been freed from the clutches of apartheid, its
constitutional values underpinning human rights and dignity cannot be
compromised by continuing to pander to Israeli racism.

*READ: Israeli army bombs western, southern Gaza

Whether the South African government is simply turning a blind eye to the
security infringement at the country's premier international airport and
the denial of visa-free entry for Palestinians, or pretending to be
ignorant of the transgressions, it is an intolerable situation. The ANC-led
government will have to do much more than an "embassy downgrade" to
demonstrate real commitment to the cause of justice for Palestine, which it
is supposed to be advocating.

The current visa requirements should be reversed without delay by lifting
the requirements imposed on the Palestinians and imposing them on Israelis.
The settler-colonial state has to understand that the world is aware of its
apartheid nature and that its brutal occupation is unacceptable to the
people and government of South Africa. We rid ourselves of one apartheid
regime; we cannot support another.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not
necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.
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