Africa could potentially be the much-needed ally for the Palestinian cause, and Israel is well aware of this fact. However, the issue lies in the lack of active pursuit of such an alliance. Transforming Africa, a natural candidate for an alliance, into a committed working ally to advance the cause of a free Palestine from the River to the Sea could be a transformative game changer. Unfortunately, the Palestinian cause remains orphaned, with no one actively advocating for its interests.
Israel recognizes the potential of forging an alliance between Africa and Palestine. Working in tandem with the United States government, it is exerting every effort to solidify Africa as a staunch pro-Israel bloc.
The history of Israeli intervention in Africa is enough to fuel the anti-Zionist sentiment among Africans. Two glaring examples serve to illustrate the nature of Israeli involvement in the continent. In the early 1960s, following the overthrow and assassination of the democratically elected Prime Minister of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, Israel offered military training to his successor, the brutal dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
Israel was not only a staunch ally of South Africa’s apartheid regime during a time when millions of Black Africans endured immense suffering, but its exploitation of African resources and support for dictators extends far beyond the scope of a single article, much of which likely took place covertly. Even if we were to focus solely on these two examples, it should be enough for Africans to reject any form of intervention, whether direct or indirect, in African affairs.
A conference in Paris
A story in the Times of Israel from 2022 is a must-read to see just how clever the Israelis are when it comes to Africa. In the summer of 2022, the Israeli embassy in Paris and the American Jewish Committee’s Paris office organized a one-day conference. They managed to bring French and African journalists, diplomats, entrepreneurs and artists in order to “examine the future of Israeli cooperation with African countries and businesses.”
One has to wonder why to conduct a conference for Africa in France, a country that has brought so much suffering and has continued to treat Africa in a patronizing way as though Africa was merely another colony. The Times of Israel story has an explanation: “The event was the brainchild of Sebban-Bécache, who wrote her doctoral dissertation on Africa-Israel relations, as well as Simon Seroussi, the Israeli embassy’s spokesman who previously served as Israel’s deputy ambassador in Cameroon.” They chose Paris because the city serves as a hub for Africa experts, African-focused media outlets and mainstream French publications that cover the continent.
Israel in Africa
The conference, titled “Israel Back in Africa? Challenges and Opportunities,” serves as a reminder of Israel’s historical connections with African countries in the 1950s and 1960s. While it may not have addressed Israeli support for figures like Mobutu or Idi Amin or the apartheid regime in South Africa, the focus was on highlighting “Israeli agricultural expertise,” a means to infiltrate countries in what is now known as the Global South.
This so-called “agricultural expertise” from Israel involved significant political, military, and intelligence entanglements that propped up ruthless dictators and plundered African resources. According to the Times of Israel, the Israeli expertise “was welcomed in newly independent African nations, which also saw some kinship with an Israel that was building itself up after throwing off colonial rule.” Clearly, they misread Israel’s intentions vis a vis Africa.
The message conveyed by this conference is clear: Israel is making a comeback in Africa. According to Anne-Sophie Sebban-Bécache, the Paris director of the American Jewish Committee, Israel sees numerous opportunities to share its assets with Africa, fostering a supposed win-win partnership. However, the truth remains that this is merely another successful ploy by Israel to divert Africans’ attention from its apartheid state status, which has inflicted irreversible harm and suffering upon them.
Extension of the Araham Accords
Two weeks prior to the Paris conference, Israel’s ambassador in Senegal, Ben Bourgel, presented his credentials to the President of Chad, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno. Despite being a predominantly Muslim nation and historically considered a supporter of the Palestinian struggle, Chad’s engagement with Israel reflects the momentum gained through the 2020 Abraham Accords. This significant development saw Morocco normalize relations with Israel, and even Sudan expressed its intention to follow suit. Speaking of Sudan, it’s worth recalling its history concerning Israel.
Following Israel’s assault on its Arab neighbors in June 1967, the Arab League held a meeting in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. Devastation ensued as the Arab armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were decimated, resulting in the loss of approximately 18,000 Arab soldiers and rendering hundreds of thousands of civilians homeless. Although confronted with overwhelming destruction, the Arab leaders stood firm against Israel, resolutely saying no to recognition, no to negotiations, and no to peace with the nation.
Palestinians under the bus
According to Ben Bourgel, the non-resident ambassador to several African states, including Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea, “They consider the Palestinian issue a non-issue.” He further expressed that “They say, okay, we have our opinion when it comes to the situation in the Middle East, but since the Palestinians are there, there is no reason the Israelis won’t be there; it will be a good venue for everyone.” However, merely wishing for coexistence does not address the core problem – the existence of an apartheid state, Israel.
The absence of any Palestinian entity championing the cause in Africa allows Israel to assert its influence over the continent. With Israel’s diplomatic missions in Africa expanding from forty to fifty and possibly beyond, it gradually gains control over the entire continent. Regrettably, Palestine is losing ground even in regions where it naturally finds support.
Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News
Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”