Apartheid on Two Continents

Apartheid on Two Continents

By Tor Sellström, 9 May 2010

In the essay, ‘Apartheid on Two Continents’ (pdf),  my colleague and friend Mats Svensson raises fundamental questions regarding international solidarity and consistency. With my study on Sweden and national liberation in Southern Africa and a report on Palestine by the South African Human Sciences Research Council as points of departure, Mats discusses the international community’s stance on racial discrimination, exclusion and oppression vis-ā-vis apartheid South Africa and the occupied Palestinian territories. It is an important comparison, pregnant with similarities, but as regards consequences under international law one which is also characterized by contradictions and double standards. Why, he asks, was a broad international opinion yesterday mobilized against apartheid in South Africa - by the United Nations declared a crime against humanity and a threat to world peace -, while it today remains largely mute with regard to the Palestinian people’s plight?

This important essay has so far been published by more than 30 web-based media around the world, and the Nordic Africa Institute should be commended when it now joins them. When the institute asked me to introduce the essay through a brief comment, I nevertheless felt rather uneasy due to the author’s lengthy, too generous and quite romantic presentation of me and my work with the study mentioned above. This said, Mats also states that reading “thousands of pages of scholarly text becomes too strenuous” and that the last volume of the study is both “ungainly” and “tedious”. It should in this context be noted that the objective of the project which I carried out between 1994 and 2001 was to produce a comprehensive documentation of Sweden ’s involvement with and support for the liberation struggles in South and Southern Africa , focusing on the role played by the Swedish government. The size of the study reflects the role played by Sweden . Let us hope that in a not too distant future there will be sufficient documentary evidence for a positive study also on ‘ Sweden and National Liberation in Palestine ’.

Tor Sellström
Durban , South Africa
9 May 2010

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