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Comparative Analysis of Gaza and South African Apartheid

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Apartheid is a form of institutionalised segregation which is based on the grounds of a particular extremist ideology. In both Gaza as well as South Africa, historians have found a common causal link between the politics of Apartheid and the negative effect it has on people. Whether it is the way Israel has systematically moved indigenous people out of their lands or the Afrikaans moving Bantustans into economically inept places where corruption is likely to occur, the intent is clear that government view the indigenous as below as well as both systems of segregation having similar factors. Discussing factors such as a brief overview of segregations as well as foreign involvement, this essay will demonstrate that both Gaza and South Africa Apartheid are quite similar in nature but not in approach.

The comparison of politics will also be included in this essay as well as the economic underdevelopment which resulted from this. These factors were pivotal in the development of underground resistance. This essay will also cover opposition and how they reacted to governments in control and question if their approaches to the situation were correct. An example would be the use of violence from Gaza militants which severely differs from the resistance by the ANC. This will give an alternative argument which shows that Gaza isn’t similar to South Africa; showing that the main cause of Apartheid being implemented is because of the amount of violence Hamas are using. The factor of foreign intervention will be further analysed including the impact countries had on the landscape witnessed. This with a thorough analysis of other factors will make the conclusive argument to this essay. While there are similarities in how Apartheid was practiced, the outcomes that opposition wanted was different. Case in point, South Africa’s intention was to achieve liberation whereas, Arabs wanting sovereignty. Apartheid therefore can be classed into different categories; one being racial in South Africa while the other is separate development in Gaza.

Firstly, to understand why both Gaza and South Africa are similar, an overview of both situations is needed. While South Africa hasn’t always participated in a hard Apartheid, Dr Malan immediately enforced a strict manifesto to accompany the Afrikaans rise in the National Assembly in 1948. A recent report about the South African general election highlighted that Malan “…criticised the Smuts government for: a general neglect of the racial problem, with special emphasis on the problem of the ever-increasing influx of Natives and Indians in European areas”. This Manifesto highlighted the approach that Malan opted for; a hard apartheid which will be based on race. Later on, Malan’s vision was put into practice as many Bantustans as well as coloured citizens were segregated. The Population Restriction Act of 1950 determined that Apartheid legislation was here to stay while at the same time, separating the whites from the coloured. This act was one of the first the Afrikaans government passed which meant Malan wanted separation as quickly as possible. Adding to this, South Africa was plagued by corruption; noting that the African National Congress wasn’t deemed as a party until late Apartheid. While the ANC had Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela, the social democrats couldn’t get into the General Assembly. This meant that while the Afrikaans was in power, there was no policy written to benefit the coloured and black.

Adding that the ANC was deemed as a terrorist organisation didn’t help efforts as people would be imprisoned had they shown outright support for the socialists. However, while Malan was consistently mentioned by historians as the founder of Apartheid in South Africa, many disagree stating that British colonialism was what caused a common division. While the Afrikaans did establish hard laws, the whites beforehand denied coloured people rights and did treat people as second class citizens. This could’ve been the exact same ambition Malan hoped for. While there were many retorts from the ANC such as the Defiance Plan in 1952, this failed to garner enough support as law dictated that it was unlawful to defy policy. The response to the Population Restriction Act only made Apartheid worse as the Afrikaans felt as though they weren’t strict enough making the need to incorporate more laws a necessity. Liberation was the main goal for South Africans which weren’t met until fifty years after the installment of the Afrikaans in power. During this hard Apartheid, coloured as well as blacks were consistently brutalised as well as incarcerated for strikes and protests. A glaring injustice however which interestingly attracted many foreign countries was the Soweto Uprising which will later be analysed in depth. Once this happened, support for the Afrikaans diminished and Apartheid was becoming weaker until the abolishment by F.W De Klerk. This injustice spurred involvement especially from the British to cease which meant more opposition for the Afrikaans. While Apartheid was consistent throughout 1950-1990, as the Afrikaans gained more control over South Africa, support for the regime became less and less.

On the other hand, Gaza seems to be the opposite. As the Israelis gain more control over the land, the capitalist policy is spurred on by the West which gives them more support. The founding of Israel stems from the British decolonisation of Palestine. An immediate Partition Resolution was forged by the UN which wasn’t kindly accepted by the Arabs. This resulted in the First Arab Israeli War which was won over by Israel. To compare with South Africa however, Gaza experienced a full war which decimated lands. As opposed to South Africa where there couldn’t have been a war as intentions were not to protect lands. The term Arab Israeli War is commonly used as it shows that foreign countries were willing to get involved. Later on however, the term Palo Israeli War is used as foreign influence declined as Apartheid continued. This is stated earlier shows that support for opposition is different. Apartheid was also heightened by Sultan Abdullah’s own campaign in the region which created even more tension between opposition and Israel. Whereas, South Africa’s situation shows that there was no need for foreigners to colonise the Bantus making their struggle more socially directed. Unruly seizure of lands is also a reoccurrence in Gaza making retaliation by Palestine justifiable. However, what makes Gaza’s situation so difficult is the approach which the Arabs took to retaliate. Radical groups such as Hamas have plagued the government since their installment in 2007. Stated earlier was how South Africa had support from major western superpowers nearing the end of Apartheid. This ultimately cannot happen for Gaza as their views in modern day do not align with the UN’s policy.

While the views of opposition are not similar, the nature of Apartheid in both regions is unruly. Mainly being that once both governments got into power, the laws which were put in place were not mutual. Military disadvantages is also what hindered any opposition revolts; as seen later where opposition resorted to terrorist like attacks to equal the Israeli power. Fred John Khouri has put forward an interesting argument stating that “the Arabs were willing to withhold the truce whereas, did not see Israel as a viable state”. This interpretation could be highlighting that there is a distinct difference in the PLO in early apartheid as opposed to the government in present day. Khouri could’ve also been hinting at the lack of power the opposition had. Coming from a complete loss at Nakba Day, a common reaction was to retaliate however; Khouri shows that the UN act was accepted. This interpretation however doesn’t show the full extent of the situation as the historian Benny Morris stated that Palestinians were the ones who started the war when they rejected the UN compromise plan and embarked on hostile acts in which 1,800 Jews were killed between November 1947 and mid-May 1948”.

The transition from “Jewish” to “Israeli” lands gives a possibility that religion has some part to play. While the UN Partition Act was more political, the partition resulted in religious rows. An example of this could be Plan Dalet where the ambition was to seize lands off Palestinians. Foreign policy also had a major part to play in this; with many global superpowers such as the USA accepting the Jews right to Jerusalem. Plan Dalet was close to being recognised as the norm until the US decided against this. This leads onto foreign involvement where a comparison between South African foreign policy and Israel is closely linked. Immediately recognising that both South Africa as well as Palestine were British colonies; many social normalities were made by the government in power. An influx in foreign power meant that foreigners were not respected by the indigenous people. Linking back to the influence of Malan, the Bantus were not in favour of this; similar to the Arabs not being in favour of the Partition Act.

Also stating that while Apartheid was in practice, the bulk of foreign investment in Israel came from the USA where the money that was collected was used on building defence systems such as the Iron dome which kept segregation against radical opposition still to its maximum. Similarly, the bulk investment in South Africa compromised from the USA which focused on aiding poorer citizens in society not realising why they were poor. This however has been taken wrongly by many newspapers such as the New York Times which has quoted that the “US influence in Gaza is for self-gain and that US wants a quick resolution to strengthen relationship”. To differ, this interpretation by the newspaper is false as US investment in both regions was primarily to increase vigilance against those that were deemed terrorists. Figure 1 shows US bilateral assistance to Palestinians: Post West Bank split, there was an increase in assistance as the split would’ve devastated many Palestinians economically as well as mentally. After the split, the terrorist organisation Hamas also came to power which could explain the surge for assistance to combat this. But, this figure could also depict that the US are funding radical Hamas. Similarly with South Africa, assistance wasn’t given in the wake of Apartheid as the US were in a dilemma of their own; the cold war taking up a large proportion of funds to deal with Russia.

This could be the reason that dispute has gone on so long in both South Africa as well as Gaza; the lack of foreign expenditure until controversial propaganda was put out. Case in point, lateral assistance in South Africa wasn’t met until the Soweto Uprising which broadcasted to the world how blacks as well as the coloured were mistreated. The killing of schoolboy Hector Pieterson showcased the inhumanity which prompted many anti-apartheid organisations to show faith. Similarly, the killing of Mohammed Al Durrah showed that the Second Intifada brought inconvenience to innocent citizens. While these incidents are very similar in execution, the killing of Al Durrah had a different outcome. This is mainly why the intentions of both opposition cannot be compared. While the killing of Hector made the ANC capitalise on exposure and highlight the flaws of the Afrikaans, the opposition in Gaza decided to use this situation as a catalyst for more violence. Using Al Durrah as a martyr meant that justice needed to be found for him; in doing so allowed for more radical groups to succeed. This could show that radicals were looking for a propaganda opportunity to cause disquiet which succeeded. The Second Intifada lasted a further five years where tension escalated. To contrast, a similar circumstance with Pieterson made South African headlines; where protestors used this propaganda to highlight how bad apartheid is. In turn, the UN established economic sanctions which hurt the oppressors directly. This displays the bigger picture of what the opposition has always wanted; the response by the Palestinians was much more violent than the South Africans showing that liberation is not a possibility.

President Arafat highlighted foreign policy for Gaza in the Oslo Accords during the 90’s. However, what is highlighted in Jeremy Pressman’s document is how Arafat is the main cause of the Second Intifada. While Arafat was making an effort to solve disputes, unknowingly his agreements would harm his own people which led to backlash. Interestingly, Pressman notes that the Accords “were thought to mean the end of Israeli occupation and the start of Palestinian self-determination”. Furthermore, a conclusive end to the violence was needed. But what Arafat’s reign in power showed was that government caused problems politically which made people resort to a physical approach. This could explain why radical groups such as Hamas have risen to power over the years; a foreign policy by the PLO will never be reasoned by the West. This shows the underlying problem that Palestine has; to gain self-determination, they will need to rid violence as a resort which stems from an undiplomatic government. Charles D Smith also highlights Arafat’s faults in his book “Palestine and the Arab Israeli Conflict” where “Arafat…recognised Israel’s existence without gaining mutual acknowledgment of a Palestinian right to self-determination”. This explains why opposition is so adamant to get rid of government; when there is a breakthrough, politicians don’t know how to cater to the Arabs. But, the impact which many of the agreements the PLO as a whole come to has a shadowing effect on what the true problem is; the overreliance on foreign countries. Whenever a problem arises, the PLO look to the West to solve it. This means that Palestine will never be self-determined even if they are granted it. The lack of diplomats in the government will cause dissolution quickly.

To compare, the ANC in South Africa did rely on foreign investment as well as expenditure whereas, many agreements ended in success. This meant that there were capable diplomats who could reason to get South Africa out of Apartheid. An example of South African diplomacy is the Soweto Uprising. Rather than dwelling on getting retribution, Mandela’s Call after the Soweto Uprising was established. In this, he states that “racists rule by the gun” as well as reaffirming to the UN that “Our people remain unequivocal in its rejection”. This differs with the PLO as Mandela acknowledges the wishes of people as well as dismissing the use of violence. The United Nations will deal with this accordingly where a resolution will be put forward. United Nations Security Council Resolution 392 which was adopted in June 19th 1976 allowed for the Afrikaans government to finally be reviewed. This gave the ANC the platform to continue Anti-Apartheid giving them a chance to conclude the problem. If this measure was adopted by the PLO, the UN would take their plea for self-determination more seriously. This cannot be the case so long as Hamas are in power. South Africa’s foreign policy also stems from the need for liberation which requires coming to some form of agreement between the two sides. This can be seen as easier for the UN to accomplish as this doesn’t require any form of negotiation nor a break in previous agreements. But, the situation in Gaza shows a different outcome needed to cease argument which could provide more difficulty. Moreover, the situation in Gaza (a violent and radical party in power) significantly differs from the ANC in South Africa. Opposition cannot be negotiated with when the party in power is doing things which are against the UN guidelines. The same measures that the South Africans took cannot be taken by the Palestinians as this will not be acted upon.

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Comparative Analysis Of Gaza And South African Apartheid. (2021, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 23, 2022, from
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