Israeli Apartheid Week, 2009

Uploaded by cool4rocknroll

By Mighty Sparrow

No games with them, don't trade with them
For them, there should be no tomorrow
This race problem, their apartheid system must not be allowed to grow
The world is suffering tremendously as a result of their racial slavery
If indeed we want peace to reign from the top, discrimination must stop

There can be no peace, only hurt
There can be no glories on this earth
If because of his colour, his creed and his culture
A fellow human being is treated like dirt
If I was a freedom fighter in this world like America
I will see that my quest was under duress
And do my best to isolate South Africa

Isolate South Africa, annihilate South Africa
Eliminate South Africa, disintegrate South Africa!

Total embargo, just to let them know
Human lives must not be taken so lightly
Their vile assault is a gross insult to one and all in a freedom-loving society
Yes, we know all men were created equally
This world is not reserved for you exclusively
If we believe this and we want happiness
Now take a stand to stamp out segregation.

There can be no honour, no respect, no splendour if we accept
The act of a state who blatantly violates every humanitarian precept
If I was a freedom structure like Britain, France, Canada and Australia
Military power will head my agenda
As part of the pressure to isolate South Africa

Isolate South Africa, annihilate South Africa,
Eliminate South Africa, disintegrate South Africa!

One million resolutions by the United Nations
And today Namibia is still in bondage
They obstinately reject every decent concept of human rights
And still treat people like garbage
From the Pope to the lowest orderly in the clergy
Is rebuffed, beaten, some get killed or shot
Greed and avarice for what, preventing those who could help
Torture and pain and human suffering surpass the top
I see a bleak future of only gloom
All hopes and dreams shatter 'cause of impending doom.

All because of his colour, his creed and his culture
A fellow human being is treated like dirt
If I was a freedom fighter in this world like America
I will see that my quest was under duress
And do my best to isolate South Africa

Isolate South Africa, annihilate South Africa
Eliminate South Africa, disintegrate South Africa!

Daily lives are lost like the Holocaust
The superpowers sit down and they take no action
Showing no interest to try and stop this madness
Like they stand behind Afghanistan and Poland
Even China is supplying them with uranium
So they could build a super hydrogen bomb
Without the US support, the UN is no comfort
America, is you to stop Pretoria!

There is simply no justice, no reason, inequitableness stay in season
In this hell hole of a state who blatantly violate every humanitarian precept
If I was a freedom structure like Britain, France, Canada and Australia
Military power will head my agenda
As part of the pressure to isolate South Africa

Isolate South Africa, annihilate South Africa,
Eliminate South Africa, disintegrate South Africa!

I am posting this song and comment as one of the ways in which I am observing the Fifth Annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) which will run from today, March 1st to the 8th. It is being observed in more than 40 cities across the globe with the number of cities climbing daily. Toronto, Canada was the birthplace of IAW, and the theme there for 2009 is "Standing United with the People of Gaza." "IAW 2009 will continue to build and strengthen the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at a global level."

Twenty-seven years ago the Mighty Sparrow was moved to sing this song, not about Israel but about another state to which Israel is increasingly being likened - South Africa. This article in Wikipedia is one of the many which explores the comparison and as you would expect it has annoyed certain parties and requests have been made for its deletion.

But back to the calypso, "Isolate South Africa". Listening to it, you can hear very clearly the personal conviction which is invested in the delivery of the piece. There can be no denying that this song was sung from the heart. These are fighting words. They express sympathy with the suffering of non-white South Africans, and outrage that such a situation should be allowed to exist. The background against which it was sung was an international outcry that had been intensifying during the late 70's and into the 80's and by the time the Mighty Sparrow sang this song, the United Nations General Assembly had already voted on a host of resolutions concerning the problems in South Africa and these included declarations calling on member states to institute embargoes.

This protest song was exactly what the world needed to hear. We all know the history. South Africa's human rights violations were clearly abominable. Racism and racial discrimination were institutionalized. We cannot imagine this today in Trinbago where the perpetuation of racist views and the racist indoctrination of young Trinbagonians is a personal choice left to individuals and parents. In South Africa however, apartheid laws based on race had been enacted in 1948 and essentially these laws were all about maintaining white domination by securing preferential treatment for whites. These laws affected every aspect of black South Africans' lives including territorial fragmentation, restriction of their freedom of movement and participation in the life of the nation, exclusion from certain jobs, outlawing of relationships and marriage between blacks and whites and putting the boot down on any form of protest whether peaceful or not. Repression, torture and death were the handmaidens of this system which had its genesis in British and Dutch convictions that the resources of this country were somehow theirs for the taking. For his courageous efforts to see the removal of this scourge, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for life. He was one of the lucky ones though. Countless others were killed or banished.

But change did come.

Under pressure from external forces and its own internal weaknesses, apartheid was eventually dismantled and Nelson Mandela was freed. Patti Waldmeir in her book "Anatomy of A Miracle" described that bend in the road as the "final convergence of politics with morality" and she explained further that De Klerk

"had been pushed to the edge of that cliff by the combined forces of history, economics, demography and morality; by sanctions and disinvestment, and sporting boycotts and Nelson Mandela; by the process of decline which began the day apartheid was invented."

She recounts a remarkable incident which happened on February 2nd 1989, the day when F. W. De Klerk was elected leader of the National Party. He stood before the caucus and said, "Dit het tid gekom vir 'n sprong" - Now is the time for a great leap forward." And the caucus replied, "Spring, ons is lang jou!" - "Leap, we are with you."


This is the defining moment at what Israel and Palestine must arrive. They need it although I suspect that they are still not convinced that they even want it. This is where we come in. We have to nudge them towards it and if like, South Africa, Israel must be made to feel the world's disapproval through sanctions, then so be it.

Listening to the song, I find myself wondering if the Birdie would sing a song like this about Israel and my conclusion is, "Most definitely not!"

For one, the white oppressors in South Africa had no justification for demanding the protective shield that is owed a chosen and historically persecuted people who have the God-given right to defend themselves. (Euphemism for achieving by whatever means their very worldly ambitions involving other people's territories and resources). White South Africans might have also believed that they were entitled to do as they pleased and no doubt they would have found like-minded supporters around the world, like those of the Nazi or KKK variety, but in the end they were not afforded the same immunity as Israel.

Secondly, for singing such a song about Israel, the Birdie would have been accused of being anti-Semitic. What do you mean "Annihilate Israel"???? Why are we such a persecuted people??" (The classic transference of guilt to victims and accusers, thus rendering all opposing views as suspect and driven by inexplicable hatred.)

Thirdly, the Birdie should NOT sing this song today until he revises some of his bellicose recommendations and the overly generous remarks expressed therein about those whose intervention he requests. I want to address specifically the following claims that he makes in the song:

"If I was a freedom fighter in this world like America
I will see that my quest was under duress and do my best to isolate South Africa."

"If I was a freedom structure like Britain, France, Canada and Australia
Military power will head my agenda as part of the pressure to isolate South Africa."

Now, I know that the Birdie as a product of his era, had a soft spot and respect for the old masters and it is obvious that he carries a torch to this day for the land of hope and glory in whose belly he has made a nest, but let us be honest.

First of all, any illusions that we might have had about America being a "freedom fighter" are almost completely shattered. America for now, is what it is - another hustler looking out for its own interests, and some might argue, not even the interests of the masses of its citizens but those of a privileged minority. If it secures anyone's freedom, be very clear that that is just a collateral benefit and not the driving motive behind its actions. The real prize becomes obvious if you have the mind to pay attention long enough. As regards those countries deemed "freedom structures" - Britain, France, Canada and Australia, I regret to inform the Birdie that they have not shown much evidence of being any different from America.

A perusal of the voting record in the United Nations General Assembly is one way to clarify things. After scanning many of the resolutions relating to South Africa AND Israel, I can tell you that the impression that I get is that the same pattern is manifesting. Sparrow calls upon the "freedom fighters/freedom structures" of Australia, Canada, France, United Kingdom and United States of America to isolate South Africa but I assure you that those countries took every opportunity to either abstain from voting in support of those resolutions or to vote against. To encounter a "yes" vote from any of them is like finding needles in the haystack of votes that betrayed that what they actually believed was that they had more to lose than gain from dismantling the oppressive regimes in South Africa and now in Israel. I should add that Israel's voting pattern was/is right in line with these countries. They are ALL in the same boat.

You might be interested in the fact that Trinidad and Tobago has consistently voted in support of amelioration of situations of oppression both in the case of South Africa and the Palestinians. Like Nick Jagdeo, but for different reasons obviously, I am also proud of my country. Its voting record on this matter in the United Nations General Assembly shows that Trinidad and Tobago has always been sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians.

There is something else that we should remember and that is that it was the will of the PEOPLE that things should change. They are the ones who pushed things along, the students and other activists who engaged in civil protests and used the media to force compliance with the sanctions. Left to their governments, who were obviously reluctant participants in the sanctions, it would have been, "Hands off the rogues, business is business."

Much attention has been paid to the contribution to the system of apartheid in South Africa that was made by American companies. Yes, it will be debated until the cows come home whether an exporter in one country can be seen as responsible for the use that is made of its products by the international trading partner. Well, obviously some do believe strongly that an exporter SHOULD be held accountable as the following American companies: Ford Motor Co., General Motors, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Citigroup, Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, and General Electric are currently being sued for up to $400 billion for their role in allegedly promoting South Africa's Apartheid.

To take the example of IBM, the largest computer supplier in South Africa throughout the years of apartheid, it is reported that "In 1978 alone, IBM's South African sales jumped 250%; total annual sales amounted to approximately three hundred million dollars in 1982." Its equipment was used to organise, among other things, the population registry without which the South African government would have not been able to manage its racist and repressive stranglehold on the personal and political lives of black South Africans.

It's lua de mel time now and calypsonians, like the Mighty Sparrow, who might have come out with guns blazing are more likely to be crooning saccharine odes to their newest master, Barack Obama. I really hope that this has nothing to do with "blackness." We grew up in Trinbago after all. There should be no illusions about the innate goodness of the "brothers" or "bhais" or any other tribes who have nothing much to offer us apart from the "race" hook. No melanin gun set to stun should ever have a chance of paralysing my or any other Trinbagonian's brain.

Isolate Israel? No! I don't want to see Israel isolated. I believe that it is precisely isolation that has allowed this situation to continue. I think that the more we shout, the faster it will remember that it exists in our world and not its own.

Annihilate Israel? Certainly not! But I fear that this could be what it is courting with its aggression.

Eliminate Israel? Not at all! Israel is there to stay, a child of rape, yes, but a child nonetheless with a right now to share peacefully through fair negotiation and dispute settlement the land of its Palestinian mother. What has to stop though is the violence and the calculating encroachment on territory that is under dispute.

Disintegrate Israel? Never! What should be disintegrated is the widening and deepening occupation and oppression of the Palestinians and the erosion of democracy which we are witnessing within the state of Israel itself. It is often overlooked that there are citizens within Israel who are viewing with alarm what they are describing as the rise of fascism.

Thanks to Open Anthropology for links to the following relevant videos and articles.

Uploaded by NoApartheid.

Uploaded by connielane.

Note: Connielane, I find it interesting to see you support what is essentially also a boycott of your country, the United States of America. In light of your appreciation of the inextricable ties, I want to suggest also that you are not accurate to proclaim that Israel is the #1 terrorist state in the world. Israel does what it does within the framework of the existing world order. It is this world order or at least its guiding principles that must be reworked for the good of all humanity.

Norman Finkelstein: Why An Economic Boycott of Israel is Justified
Naomi Klein: Israel - Boycott, Divest, Sanction
GLOBAL BDS MOVEMENT: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions
PACBI: Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
STOP THE WALL: Boycott Campaign fact sheets, analysis, FAQs
The BIG Campaign: Boycott Israeli Goods
Joanna Blythman, The Guardian: Why I’m Boycotting Israeli Produce
Brands to Boycott
Companies to Boycott

Uploaded by hanaaB