Hinduism, Palestine and #IsraeliApartheidWeek
Nikita Pillay, Sunday Tribune (18 March 2018)

In Hinduism, the closest word to “rights” is adhikara which translates to the idea of ‘just claim’ but it is often used in the context of dharma which is derived from the word dhr which has many meanings, some of which are to uphold, nourish and sustain; it includes duty, morality, ritual, law, justice as well as order.

If one considers Mahatma Ghandi and the multitude of movements for social change that took place in India which were called the swaraj or self-rule with close counsel to Hinduism and the various teachings such as The Bhagavad gita, The Ramayana as well as the many other teachings and writings that govern Hinduism then we can see that throughout history Hinduism has been the epitome of all that human rights represents. This includes a number of different values such as dignity, respect, fairness, equality and independence.

Now, the support of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli Apartheid comes into play with the humanity and various morals that I as a Hindu person are taught to uphold and live by from a young age and that governs our decisions and perspectives of the world.

If we look at the current Israeli oppression of Palestinians, it infringes every human right value listed above by depriving innocent people of their basic needs, of growing up children that only know war and fear instead of education and happiness, for impacting so many lives and losing just as many because of unfairness and inequality that dates back to the 1960’s, of stripping people of their individuality, of their identity, of their emotions and freedom to explore and live life because of selfishness, hatred, indoctrination and endless amounts of propaganda that is instilled into Israeli societies from a young age.

The support of the Palestinian struggle by South African civil society, political parties and our own Government is needed, necessary and should be applauded – it was the Palestinians after all, together with (the then progressive Indian Government) who provided us with support, solidarity and resources during our struggle against Apartheid.

As a young Hindu student I was thrilled to experience the recent #IsraeliApartheidWeek on my campus. The campaign not only raised awareness but the multiple events and activities that take place during #IsraeliApartheidWeek were also inspiring and motivating. Following the one week campaign I am definitely backing the non-violent boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel as I am convinced more than ever of its impact.

Beyond and impact on the Israeli regime the campaign and movement encouraged people to think and engage about grave injustices that innocent people are forced to live through each day. With its internationalist flavour it forces us to remember the solidarity we once received and to “give back” to all those who are still oppressed, be in the Palestinians, the people of Western Sahara, Swaziland or Cuba.

The Palestine solidarity movement emphasises that even today, in this modern age where peace and equality are strived for, people are being displaced, forcibly removed and robbed of their lives. The oppression against the Palestinian people is not just an issue to people of Palestinian ethnicity, Muslims, Jews or Christians, it is a crime against humanity, a gross injustice that has been going on for far too long and one that should not have started in the first place. It is a struggle that is supported by masses all over the world as our humanity is intertwined. As Tata Madiba once said, ‘We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.’

Nikita Pillay is a student at North West University. This article was originally published in the Sunday Tribune (18 march 2018)