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AU Should Be Wary of Israel’s Footprint in Africa

By Tendai Makaripe

THE year was 2004.

Janjaweed, a ruthless Sudanese Arab militia group that operates in Sudan, particularly Darfur, and eastern Chad descended in a village in West Darfur.

Known for their brutality and zero respect for human life, the militia of nomadic herders backed by the Arab-dominated Sudanese government left a trail of destruction in the village.

Their use of aerial bombardment supplied by the Sudanese military as part of a long-running civil war on unarmed civilians was poignant.

A then nine-year-old Usumain Tukuny Baraka had to bear witness as his loved ones were shredded into pieces by rapacious guns from an unrelenting enemy.

“I saw them kill my father and big brother,” Baraka told The Times of Israel recently. “It was the first time I’d seen a dead body. They killed women and old men. It was a catastrophe. Hundreds of people were killed.”

Baraka fled the war-torn Northeast African country and settled in Israel in the hope of starting a new life free from war and conflict.

Probably his selection of Israel as a destination of choice was influenced by Leviticus 19 verse 33-34 wherein God tells the Israelites through the patriarch Moses: “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”

Because humankind descended from Adam, the father of all nations, people should embrace each other regardless of colour, ethnicity, gender, or nationality.

However, upon setting foot in Israel, Baraka and his countrymen were greeted by a harsh reality of rejection and denunciation.

The country has been led by governments dominated by anti-migrant politicians who are determined to make life in Israel as uncomfortable as possible for Africans.

While the Middle Eastern country was previously seen as a safe haven to rush to, the tide has changed as it has now become a land where African migrants are desperate to flee.

The country which has approved fewer than 1% of asylum applications since it signed the UN Refugee Convention six decades ago – has not offered asylum to a single person from Sudan and the treatment of these migrants has raised questions about Israel’s views on Africans.

The treatment violates the core values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR); a milestone document in the history of human rights.

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Article 1 of the declaration provides that: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

What is baffling is that the same country which is presiding over the dehumanisation of African migrants and black Jews is given observer status at the African Union.

Observer status is a privilege granted by the AU to non-members to give them the ability to participate in the organisation’s activities

Israel will continue to have observer status at the AU for at least the following year. This startling fact contradicts the values enshrined in the continental body’s Constitutive Act, which stands against apartheid and colonialism, and violates the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Palestinian ambassador to Zimbabwe Tammer Almassri said Israel should be nowhere near the AU.

“The racism exhibited by Israel is not only against black Jews but is also targeting African immigrants. They are not considered humans, not counted, the Israeli army can shoot and kill them at any time and no one will know about this.

The African charter is clear, what Israel does is contrary to the values of the charter and its history as an ally of apartheid regimes in Zimbabwe and South Africa should not allow it to be anywhere near the AU,” said Almassri.

Zimbabwe Palestine Solidarity Council national chairman Kwanisai Mafa said: “The AU must not betray the African decolonial agenda. Israel stands for what is against the struggle for liberation. Israel is an apartheid and racist state and for this reason, it cannot be allowed to arm-twist or cajole some African states so that they can enjoy observer status,” said Mafa.

The Apartheid Convention defines the crime against humanity of apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”

The Rome Statute of the ICC adopts a similar definition: “inhumane acts… committed in the context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

It appears Israel’s hatred of blacks has come a long way.

Recently, Israeli investigative news outlet Sicha Mekomit revealed that Israeli authorities were aware of the racial tensions at the heart of Rwandan society and as early as the 1960s.

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According to the uncovered cables, Israeli diplomats considered that the Rwandan government’s Tutsi ‘problem’ would make them a natural ally in dealing with the issue of Palestinian refugees.

Israel’s hand in the conflict was seen in how they facilitated the flow of guns and ammunition into Rwanda during the violence as published in a Peace Research Institute Oslo 2000 report, The Arms Fixer, and corroborated by ongoing investigations into the role of French interests in the genocide.

The investigations into Israel’s involvement in the massacre of over 100,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus by state-sponsored militias were also seen in how Israeli military officials were involved in French and UK-brokered deals to provide small arms to Rwanda through private contractors, flown in via Albania.

With a chequered history of having African blood on its hands, the unrepentant regime continues to dehumanise Africans and still wants to exploit its leaders.

Chairperson at the Zimbabwe Institute of Diplomacy Abednego Chikanda said Africa should speak with one voice so as to deal with the Israeli crisis in the AU.

“The treatment of Africans is generally problematic across the world but with Israel, it’s worse than we can imagine. The country pretends like it loves Africa when it doesn’t. To deal with this problem, the AU must always stand for the African cause. African states must urgently reverse the granting of observer status by speaking with one voice.

“The continued occupation of Palestine by Israel has gone on for years but what is appalling is that the treatment of Ukrainians in the ongoing conflict with Russia is different from that of Palestinians. Displaced Ukrainians are being given a blank cheque to go to Israel to seek refuge yet black migrants and Palestinians are being chased away.”

Shoulder to Shoulder with Palestine board chairperson Henry Ngara said the treatment of Palestinians and black migrants in Israel violates international law.

“As a progressive body, the AU must condemn Israel’s actions. What the country is communicating is blacks are sub-humans who can be treated anyhow. Their terrorist actions should be condemned in the strongest sense and the AU should not be divided over this,” said Ngara.

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