Why The Global South Is Rising For Gaza – OpEd


The distance between Gaza and Namibia is measured in the thousands of kilometers. But their historical experiences mean they feel much closer. This is precisely why Namibia was one of the first countries to take a strong stance against the Israeli genocide in Gaza.

Namibia was colonized by the Germans in 1884, while the British colonized Palestine after the First World War before handing the territory to the Zionist colonizers in 1948. Though the ethnic and religious fabrics of the two are different, the historical experiences are similar.

It is easy, however, to assume that the history that unifies many countries in the Global South is only that of Western exploitation and victimization. But it is also a history of collective struggle and resistance.

Namibia has been inhabited since prehistoric times. This long history has allowed Namibians to establish a sense of belonging to the land and to one another, something that the Germans did not understand or appreciate.

When the Germans colonized Namibia, giving it the name German South West Africa, they did what all other Western colonialists have done, from Palestine to South Africa to Algeria and to virtually all countries in the Global South. They attempted to divide the people, exploit their resources and butcher those who resisted.

Although their country only had a small population, the Namibians resisted their colonizers, resulting in the German decision to simply exterminate the natives, literally killing the majority of the population.

Since the start of the Israeli genocide in Gaza, Namibia answeredthe call of solidarity with the Palestinians, along with many other countries of the Global South, including Colombia, Nicaragua, Cuba, South Africa, Brazil and China.

Though intersectionality is a much-celebrated notion in Western academia, no academic theory is needed to explain why oppressed, colonized nations in the Global South exhibit solidarity with one another.

So, when Namibia took a strong stance against Israel’s largest military supporter in Europe — Germany — it did so based on its total awareness of its own history.

The German genocide of the Nama and Herero people of 1904-1908 is known as the “first genocide of the 20th century.” The ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza is one of the first genocides of the 21st century. The unity between Palestine and Namibia is now cemented through their mutual suffering.

However, it was not Namibia that launched a legal case against Germany at the International Court of Justice, but Nicaragua — a Central American country that is also thousands of kilometers away from both Palestine and Namibia.

The Nicaraguan case accuses Germany of violating the Genocide Convention. It rightly sees Berlin as a partner in the ongoing genocide of the Palestinians.

This accusation alone should terrify the German people, the whole world in fact, as Germany has been affiliated with genocides since its early days as a colonial power. The horrific crime of the Holocaust, along with other mass killings carried out by the German government against Jews and other minority groups in Europe during the Second World War, were a continuation of other German crimes committed against Africans decades earlier.

The typical analysis of why Germany continues to support Israel is explained on the basis of German guilt over the Holocaust. This explanation, however, is partly illogical and partly erroneous.

Illogical because, if Germany has internalized any guilt from its previous mass killings, it would make no sense for it to add yet more guilt by allowing Palestinians to be butchered en masse. If such guilt does exist, it is not genuine.

And erroneous because it completely overlooks the German genocide in Namibia. In fact, it took the German government until 2021 to acknowledge the horrific butchery in that poor African country. It then apologized and agreed to pay merely €1.1 billion ($1.17 billion) in “community aid,” which will be allocated over the course of three decades.

The German government’s support of the Israeli war on Gaza is not motivated by guilt, but by a power paradigm that governs the relations among colonial countries. Many countries in the Global South understand this logic very well; thus the growing solidarity with Palestine.

The Israeli brutality in Gaza and the Palestinian “sumoud” (resilience and resistance) are inspiring the Global South to reclaim its centrality in anti-colonial liberation struggles.

The revolution in the Global South’s outlook — culminating in South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the world court and the Nicaraguan lawsuit against Germany — indicates that the change is not the outcome of a collective emotional reaction. Instead, it is part and parcel of the shifting relationship between the Global South and the Global North.

Africa has been undergoing a process of geopolitical restructuring for years. The anti-French rebellions in West Africa, demanding true independence from the continent’s former colonial masters, in addition to the intense geopolitical competition — involving Russia, China and others — are signs of the changing times.

With this rapid rearrangement, a new political discourse and popular rhetoric is emerging, often expressed in the revolutionary language emanating from Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and others.

But the shift is not happening on the rhetorical front only. The rise of BRICS as a powerful new platform for economic integration between Asia and the rest of the Global South has opened up the possibility that alternatives to Western financial and political institutions are very much possible.

In 2023, it was revealed that BRICS countries were responsible for 32 percent of the world’s total gross domestic product, compared to 30 percent for the G7 countries combined. There is much political value to this, as four of the five original founders of BRICS are strong and unapologetic supporters of the Palestinians.

While South Africa has been championing the legal front against Israel, Russia and China have been battling the US at the UN Security Council and attempting to institute a ceasefire. Beijing’s ambassador to the UN went as far as defending the Palestinian armed struggle as legitimate under international law.

Now that global dynamics are working in favor of the Palestinians, it is time for their struggle to return to the embrace of the Global South, where common histories will always serve as a foundation for meaningful solidarity.

Ramzy Baroud

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), now available on Amazon.com

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