Regardless of what angle you choose to take in trying to explain the recent happenings between Israel and Palestine, one thing is certain: the 1947 vote by the United Nations that saw Palestine split into two, between the Jews and Arabs, has a lot to do with it.
Other factors have, of course, over the years also contributed to the conflict we see now, and they may include the Balfour Declaration, the pogroms escape, or even historical events as back-dated as those during the Great Roman Empire.
It is a complex marriage of issues that has culminated in the terror that is now playing out on screens all over the world, seemingly with no end in sight.
The militant Islamist group, Hamas, has controlled Gaza since the year 2006, and early last month, on October 7th, they unleashed terror on Israel, storming into the southern cities; civilians, soldiers, women, and children—no one has been spared. The group also took several hostages.
The result, as may be expected, has been a daily rocket-fire trade between the two sides. More than one million Palestinians have been ordered to evacuate northern Gaza, even as Gaza runs out of necessities like water and fuel. Presently, cross-border strikes are widening the scope of the war, with Lebanon and Syria being drawn into the unfortunate tussle.
One could safely say that historically, the African continent has been pro-Palestine. It seems, however, that Israel has made a foray into parts of the continent and is garnering support from some of its countries. The Kenyan President’s remarks on X seem firmly poised for Israel, for example.
Kenya joins the rest of the world in solidarity with the State of Israel and unequivocally condemns terrorism and attacks on innocent civilians in the country. There exists no justification whatsoever for terrorism, which constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security.
Ghana’s foreign affairs ministry said that the country “affirms its support for Israel’s right to exist and defend itself”. The government also called on the Israeli government to exercise restraint in its response to Hamas attacks.
The DRC and Rwanda have also aligned themselves with Israel.
Ruto’s support for Israel does not come as a surprise, however, because he has, for all intents and purposes, offered up Kenya for servitude.
His Western allies must expect nothing less now if he still expects the US trade deal to hold. He must do as they please and show solidarity. South Sudan has been a silent partner to Israel, which shows support, albeit quietly. They have abstained from key votes regarding Palestinian issues, giving Israel a boost while at it.
Israel has always endeavoured to make connections with countries in the Horn of Africa as well as in East Africa. These connections have been useful in maintaining the control it has placed on the maritime link that goes through the Red Sea and in taming the dominance that Egypt has on the black continent.
Africa: not a unanimous voice
The death toll keeps rising daily as the war rages on, and atrocities against vulnerable civilians continue to be committed as the two sides keep exchanging fire. Data from Gaza authorities indicates that a child dies from Israel’s bombardment of Gaza every 10 minutes!
Among the countries that have taken an opposing stand to that of the DRC, Zambia, Kenya, Ghana, and Rwanda, among others, are Algeria and South Africa.
Speaking at an ANC event held in Johannesburg, South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said:
All of us standing here pledge our solidarity for the people of Palestine. We stand here because we are deeply concerned about the atrocities that are unfolding in the Middle East.
It is a bit of an irony that African countries are split over a matter quite akin to what they have had to endure for centuries: colonialism from Western powers and racism, which may, at this time, be at its peak in many countries in the global north.
Why the African voice is not unanimously condemning what is happening to Palestinians in Gana (and now increasingly extending to the West Bank with intensified night raids) is a question that is sparking a lot of interesting debates worldwide.
What is the truth behind the split in how the various governments are choosing to align themselves?
There is a clear compartmentalization of interests for most African governments with regard to this war. These interests, some political, some financial, and even some geopolitical, are perhaps the biggest determinants of which side different countries in Africa are picking.
Even Ethiopia, which is considered to have a long-standing relationship and ties to Israel, has yet to make known who they are siding with.
The friendship card has been cast aside, and in its place is the interest card. Governments are asking one question: what do we stand to gain? The true nature of African politics has emerged in the face of this war, and sadly, political consciousness and historical appreciation have been thrown to the dogs.
Buchanan Ismael, a political scientist, talks about the opportunistic cooperation that African countries have with Israel. Some African heads of state are in their powerful positions as a result of help from the Israeli government, and they now, even if they disagree, cannot turn and side with Palestinians.
Additionally, Israel comes bearing gifts that most African countries cannot turn down: advanced technology, military aid in the form of weapons, as well as digital and financial aid, which the continent still desperately requires.
There are African countries whose budgets depend entirely on donations from the West, and for this reason, they cannot be seen to be voting anti-Israel in this war. Selfish interests have taken an early and strong lead in humanity.
Emerging issues to consider
Every year, the world celebrates the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people on the 29th of November.
Just under a month away, this year’s Palestine Day is set to be even more significant than it has been in the past years.
As ‘free Palestine’ hashtags abundantly grace our social media platforms and horrifying images from the war fill our screens, it may be time to have difficult discussions about issues that most times end up being shelved for fear of ruffling too many feathers.
What is happening to Palestine now has happened before, and unless radical changes are instituted, it will happen again.
Perhaps it will be in a different country and in a different context, but it will happen again. The entire world information system is basically pushing a lopsided narrative against Palestine in an attempt to pave the way for whatever reprehensible actions and consequences there may be in the future.
Select media outlets, governments, and political leaders all over the world are slowly dehumanizing Palestinians, and unfortunately, Africa has joined in this deplorable act of manufacturing consent.
Israel’s actions in Gaza cannot continue to be shrouded in misinformation and propaganda carefully crafted to create alternate realities and take attention away from what is truly happening.
Yes, one can corroborate news and allegations, but the time it takes for this to happen is enough for the falsehood to take root and become ‘the truth’ for many audiences in the world. African countries maintaining loud silences for fear of getting in the bad books with the Western bankrollers and ‘on-the-fence’ stances from leaders refusing to pick a side are only fueling the conflagration.
The UN in Gaza currently says that the shelters in the 150 facilities that are housing the more than 600,000 Palestinians who have fled their homes are filled four times over their capacity.
The global economy is taking hits from all sides: climate change, the Russo-Ukraine war, and now the Israel-Palestine conflict. Speaking recently at the Saudi Arabia flagship investment conference, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva warned that the economic gloom could only get worse as the war impacts Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan.