The incestuous relationship between South Africa, Canada and Israel
Canada’s historical and contemporary relationship with its Indigenous peoples continues to be deeply disturbing, given Canada’s current local and international stances on Indigenous rights. This is particularly clear with the case of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Amnesty International, for one, released a damning report on the plight of Indigenous peoples in Canada, calling for an inquiry. The purpose of this article is to broaden our perspectives on Indigenous peoples and their rights, to demonstrate that systemic violations of Indigenous livelihoods are a consequence of a greater darkness known as settler colonialism. Comparative analysis of the seemingly incestuous relationship between South Africa, Canada and Israel may further the understanding of settler-colonial violence, apartheid and Indigenous peoples.
First and foremost, South Africa, Canada and Israel are settler-colonial states; they are colonial state entities that rely on the facilitation of immigration for economic expansionism at the expense of the Indigenous and original inhabitants of the said territory in which the said settler- colonial state is established and founded. The structural psyche of settler-colonial states have five logics embedded in them which enable and ensure the facilitation process of settler colonialism: the logic of elimination, the logic of expansionism, the logic of exceptionalism, the logic of racialization, and the logic of denial. These produce a reality for Indigenous peoples based on a sixth logic known as the logic of securitization. Canada under the Harper government has marvelously assisted in manifesting this reality to the surface with genuine and pure colours as will be shown throughout the article.
The overall Apartheid system in South Africa was developed based on Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous peoples; in part, this was enabled through visitations by Apartheid regime representatives to Canada. Lessons learned were not limited to the segregation politics of the Residential School system in Canada enforced against Indigenous peoples. The example of open-air prisons known as reservations brought about the Bantustans in South Africa; now, these are implemented against the Palestinians by Israel through the enclave territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, Israel has facilitated the expansion of settlements within these territories through the implementation a complex system of control, with the use of apartheid tactics such as the building of a barrier and wall known as the Apartheid Wall, Jewish-only roads, Jewish-only buses and Jewish-only settlements that are illegal and have and continue to undermine the rights of the Palestinians in the name of securitization. In fact, Canadian companies like Green Park International and Green Mount International are assisting in building this expansionist and colonial apartheid infrastructure, for which a legal case has been filed against them. It is worth noting that the State of Israel’s actions were not limited to their support of the Apartheid regime in South Africa and their covert assisance with nuclear weapon technology. The Goldstone Report, a UN inquiry into war crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinians during Operation Cast Lead in 2008, found evidence of up to 75 Afrikaners fighting with the Israel Defense Forces. Last but not least, the Jewish Defense League is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and European Union; they are also denounced by the Anti-Defamation League for their violent extremism and racism. Yet, they have an office in Canada and operate legally. In fact, the Jewish Defense League has made alliances with the British National Party, a white supremacist, anti-Semitic organization. Most importantly, the Jewish Defense League relate their “cause” to the White Afrikaners of South Africa, further demonstrating Canada’s facilitation of the politics of apartheid, including its staunch unequivocal, unconditional and unwavering support for the State of Israel in relation to the Palestinians.
Moreover, the Harper government ignored the Indigenous community of Attawapiskat’s call for a State of Emergency as a result of its subhuman and fourth world conditions under which the community is living. As a result of the lack of action by the Harper government, the Canadian Red Cross had to intervene to address this community living under these deeply disturbing socio-economic conditions. The South African DeBeers Diamond Mining Company, infamous for aiding and abetting the Apartheid regime in South Africa, as well as destroying an Indigenous community in Botswana, is also located in the very same community. The company is now making millions of dollars excavating diamonds from the Indigenous community in Canada, the royalties of which are going to the Province of Ontario, instead of going to a community that is left to live under the above-mentioned disturbing situational circumstances.
Therefore, fully understanding the contemporary political circumstances in Canada requires a critical understanding of the historical roots of the Conservative party of Canada led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The current Conservative party of Canada is a merger between the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party. The Canadian Alliance was a successor to what was known as the Reform Party, which existed from 1987-2000; it became the Canadian Alliance in 2000, lasting until 2003, when they merged with the Progressive Conservatives. The Reform Party was an ultra-right wing party that advocated for the complete dismantling of government responsibility in relation to Indigenous situational circumstances and preached staunch anti-immigration and anti-multicultural policies. The three most exclusive, influential and outspoken speakers of the party were Preston Manning, the sole leader of the Reform Party who is currently retired from politics, Stan Waters, the Reform Party foreign affairs spokesman and first to be elected as Senator for the Party, and Stephen Harper, Chief Policy Officer of the Reform Party and designer of the Reform Party campaign platform.
The Reform Party was sympathetic to the Apartheid Regime and were critical of the Canadian government’s negative stance on Apartheid rule, including the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, which they tried to influence and change. There were many high-profile pro-Apartheid activists in the party – namely Herb Grubel, Donavan Carter, K.H.W. Hillborn and Arthur Child, the only Canadian to have received the apartheid regime’s medal of honour. Notwithstanding the party’s organizational and promotional events supporting apartheid rule, the party (particularly Stephen Harper) was involved with groups like the Heritage Front and the Northern Foundation. These groups were racist white supremacist organizations that were openly pro-Apartheid and supportive of the Reform Party. Many, if not all of the Reform Party were members of the Heritage Front and the Northern Foundation, including Stephen Harper who actually used these white supremacist groups as security during campaigns or party meetings.
Setting aside the fact that South Africa’s Apartheid regime was inspired and mentored by Canada and its particular historical and contemporary relationship with its Indigenous peoples, and further reinforced by Glenn Babb’s visit to an Indigenous reservation in 1993, Canada’s evident apartheid under the Harper government takes a two-tiered form: the regime’s apartheid divisions are levelled against its Indigenous peoples, and they are also set against its non-indigenous, non-white immigrant population. This is reflected through the regime’s immigration laws and policies, both historically and contemporarily, as a settler-colonial state with the elimination of the Courts Challenges Program, as well as the introduction of Bill C-24 and Bill C-51, both currently official law. The current government of Canada under Harper and its present residues of pro-settler-colonial and Apartheid individuals governing the country are taking this already institutionalized racism to a new level, rendering it a potential and evident settler-colonial Apartheid State under international law.
South Africa and Canada have had a Transitional Justice Process implemented in relation to settler-colonial violence, addressing Apartheid in South Africa and the Residential School legacy in Canada. Among the many challenges that remain are the negative and racialized socio-economic circumstances as reflected in both cases, whereby Indigenous peoples predominate in the said statistics. Furthermore, Palestinians in similar past and present socio-economic circumstances are heading towards a Transitional Justice process in relation to settler-colonial violence by Israel: they are attempting to address the Nakba legacy through an unofficial process currently headed by an Israeli human rights organization known as Zochrot.
Since history is a phenomenon that repeats itself, history has clearly shown the international community what such settler-colonial Apartheid systems of violence lead to. The Apartheid regime in South Africa had to deal with the insurgency of the African National Congress led by Nelson Mandela. In Israel, the Apartheid regime had to deal with the insurgency of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas and Tanzim led by “the Palestinian Mandela,” who is currently imprisoned. Given these facts, reports of potential Indigenous insurgencies being ripe in Canada as a result of such similar contextual dynamics is not surprising.
Based on the incestuous relationship between Canada, Israel and South Africa in relation to settler colonialism, Apartheid and internationalized violation of Indigenous rights was cemented and reinforced by the Harper government. The upcoming elections of October 19, 2015 will demonstrate and test what the identity and colour of democracy truly is in Canada, as well as determining potential consequences in regards to the future direction that Canada is heading towards in relation to local and international Indigenous rights issues.