From Palestine to South Africa: The week in ellipsis

Begin in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Then go to El Salvador. Then Guyana, Cape Verde, Syrian Arab Republic , Uzbekistan, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Viet Nam , Moldova, Rep. of, Bolivia, Honduras, Tajikistan, Mongolia, and then Nicaragua. After that, South Africa is a stone’s throw away.

The United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report earlier this year charted South Africa’s steady decline to pre-apartheid (1975) levels of literacy, health and income. South Africa’s sixteen countries below the Occupied Territories in terms of its HDR ranking.

Despite the facts, Trevor Manuel, the Finance Minister, told us this week that the economy was “pumping”. Quite what this cardiological metaphor tells us is unclear. Unless it’s not blood that’s being pumped, but lead. Which wouldn’t be far off. The innocently named John Perkins published his Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man this week – an everyday story of an economist recruited by the National Security Agency to encourage bankruptcy (moral and fiscal) in the third world, through pimping (econometric and otherwise).

Back to the title of today’s post. A more direct route from Palestine to South Africa can be traced through the ANC and PLO’s shared histories of struggle. The mourning period for Yasser Arafat came to an end this week, and we were treated to a series of popular outpourings for the man. Jacob Zuma, the deputy president, almost managed to string a coherent sentence together for the occasion. Little more has come from government than that. Promises that Thabo Mbeki would try to make the funeral were muffled when it became clear that he was happier signing trade deals in Belgium.

Meanwhile, the horrors unbundle in Fallujah. What has this got to do with the Occupied Territories? Well, if you’re watching South African television, nothing at all.