A pro-Palestine march in Brazil. (File photo)
The mayor of the Brazilian city of Belém, Edmilson Rodrigues, declared his city an “Apartheid Free Zone” and denounced Israel’s “expulsion of a people from their ancestral territory, a true apartheid.”
Belém, the capital of the state of Pará in the Amazonas, is renowned for bringing indigenous and other people together in the struggle for justice and building solidarity.
Belém’s decision follows those by the mayor of Barcelona (Catalonia, Spanish state) to suspend institutional ties with apartheid Israel and end twinning with Tel Aviv, by the Liège (Belgium) city council to cut ties with apartheid, and by the Oslo (Norway) city council to exclude from public procurements companies that directly or indirectly contribute to Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise.
Seventy-five years have passed since the Palestinian people were ethnically cleansed and forcibly expelled from their homes, lands, and property in their ancestral land during the 1948 Nakba (meaning ‘catastrophe’ in Arabic). 531 Palestinian villages were destroyed, and more than 70 massacres were carried out against innocent civilians, killing more than 15 thousand Palestinians between 1947 and 1949.
Since 1948, Israel established a regime of racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people primarily in the domains of nationality and land. In the immediate aftermath of the Nakba, Israel adopted a series of laws, policies, and practices, which sealed the dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian people, systematically denying the return of Palestinian refugees and other Palestinians who were abroad at the time of the war.
At the same time, Israel imposed a system of institutionalized racial discrimination over Palestinians who remained on the land, many of whom had been internally displaced. Such Israeli laws have constituted the legal architecture of the Israeli apartheid that continue to be imposed on the Palestinian people today.