To the Esteemed Rabbi Warren Goldstein.
For far too long we have remained silent and not responded when outrageous slurs and horrifying threats were levelled against the democratically elected government of South Africa by the Jewish lobby, and therefore deemed it prudent to let such issues be dealt with by the elected officials.
However because the source of the latest threat is someone who is the anointed leader of the Jewish community, and is considered by a section of our society as a respected man of cloth, I consider it necessary to respond. By not responding in such circumstances, there exists a danger that the public may downplay the danger that your latest behaviour presents to our national sovereignty and democracy. Indeed some members of the Jewish community might even think of emulating your intimidating tactics; clothed as they are with the imprimatur of the office of the Chief Rabbi.
Before I proceed further in this communiqué I would like to pose a few questions which I hope you will be kind enough to answer.
Can you tell me exactly who gave you the right to use the Marikana tragedy in order to blackmail the South African government to take decisions that are commensurate to the wishes of the Jewish community regardless of the wishes of the black majority to which the Marikina martyrs belonged?Why is it that you think it is acceptable for you to invoke the memory of the Marikina martyrs in order to disqualify the South African government from commenting on the Israel aggression and then cry foul when others invoke the plight of the Jews in Hitler’s Germany in order to prevent Israel from doing to the Palestinians what Hitler did to the Jews?Why do you believe that only you, the members of the Jewish community, have a right to comment on the Israel aggression and that everybody else who does so is an “anti-Semite”?Why must we as South Africans not be worried that you, the Jewish minority community, are harassing our government on behalf of a foreign country?Why do you think the South African government and the African National Congress (ANC) must take policy decisions that suit the taste of the Jewish minority regardless of the views of the black majority of South Africans including the Muslim and Hindu sections and ANC members?Since South Africa is a secular democracy, can you explain which clause in our constitution which sanctions the formation of the “Office of the Chief Rabbi of South Africa”? I have not heard of the “Office the Grand mufti/Ayatollah of South Africa” or “Office of the Chief Swami/Pundit of South Africa”.Would you find me at fault if I say most South Africans are extremely concerned that you ,a leader of a minority, has just called an elected government official and threaten him with “consequences” if he doesn’t act according to your orders?. More worrying is that you are harassing our leaders on behalf of a foreign regime not as a South African citizen who accept that the ANC as the ruling party in entitled to act in accordance with the grievances and aspirations of all South Africans not a fringe Zionist sect.Can you please tell me where in the world it is acceptable for a leader of a minority community, acting on behalf of a foreign regime, to threaten with “consequences” a popular government? The last time Arab citizens of Israel tried to do that they were considered a fifth column and had their property destroyed and citizenship revoked. Given that you regard Israel as bastion of democracy, would you like the South African government to treat you in the same manner as Israel treat its Arab minority?There are people in this country of German, English, Irish, Indian, Malay, Pakistani, Arab descent and they regard themselves as South Africans first. I do not remember any of them threatening our government with “consequences” if it doesn’t act in a manner that is commensurate with the German, English, and Irish, Indian, Malay, Pakistani or Arab governments. Why do you think we must not question your loyalty to South Africa given that you seem to be offended by everything South African and you continually undermine South Africa’s independence and sovereignty by demanding that we must cease to think on our own but we must act in accordance with the nefarious interest of the foreign country of Israel.Why do you think we must tolerate you ridiculing the South African struggle for freedom and you are on record mocking the post-Apartheid progress and ridiculing our efforts of creating racial harmony and national reconciliation all because you are hell-bent on undermining your own country in advancement of the interest of the apartheid entity called Israel?
I pose these questions without any ill will and I hope you will respond in a similar fashion.
I have to conclude that you need a course on the constitutional foundations of this country, better yet, ANC’s internal processes.
I read your letter from Jerusalem. I must say I’m completely baffled by your desperate attempts to advance yourself as a paragon of political morality and an old hand on matters pertaining to the internal affairs of the ANC. Your brazen attack on Comrade Jessie Duarte exposed you as a paranoid man who disregards Comrade Duarte’s right to freedom of expression. By cowardly singling out Comrade Duarte for your illogical vitriol, even though you knew that she was mandated by the ANC to speak, you proved to be a sexist bigot and Shylockian spinster.
Not only was your attempt a disaster, you made fools out of the Jewish community and single handedly dealt it an insulting blow. Perhaps this kind of irony should come as no surprise, from you. If you were a soccer player we would say you scored an own goal, much to the exasperation of your own supporters.
From a man of cloth I expected a more sober approach in terms of articulating both the reasons as well as the benefits of tolerating the Jewish colonial war against the defenceless and dispossessed Palestinian people , but your asinine vitriol and the weak context you provided did very little to bolster your own cause.
What became clear from the letter though is your misplaced attack on the ANC for taking decisive action against the seemingly erratic mass murderer, Mr Benyamin netanyahu. I can only conclude that by challenging the ANC to debate its views, you intended to elevate your cause onto an equally compelling platform as the ANC and give it a similarly noble impetus.
In my considered view, this has had the unintended consequence of underscoring your obsessive determination as a lobbyist for the racist apartheid regime in Israel, and yours truly, the handler, Benyamin Netanyahu.
It is now clear as day that your letter was a serious let down to your backers, quite a rant and rave. What was painfully obvious was your persistent ignorance about the cause for South Africans involved in the struggle for liberation of Palestine. Having been part of this struggle myself, all my solicitous years I might add, I was seriously taken aback by your assertion that, in pursuit of a “peaceful and dignified dialogue”, we must remain silent and not condemn the Jewish colonialists and their genocide against noble and peaceful people of Gaza.
I can only guess the point you were trying to put across when you said; I cite “I therefore challenge Ms Duarte to a public debate with me on the claims she makes in her statement.” I admit at first I thought you were onto something, but then you lost me completely when you said; again I cite “Her hate-filled outburst is so grotesquely untrue that it cannot be left to stand without the proper public scrutiny provided by a one on one debate” at that point all I could was wonder whether the air could get any hotter?
Having been an advocate for permanent peace in Palestine long side other progressive Jews, it is not just South African Jews who should be insulted by your uninformed and gung-ho conclusions but everybody who has made an appreciable contribution towards peace.
Your argument is narrowly centered on your rage and ire because Israel has been called to order and reminded that just as the world did not let Hitler exterminate the Jews; The Jews will also not be allowed to exterminate the Palestinian people.
Your displeasure and rant as a result of the rejection that Zionists are facing in our country were however well camouflaged by your tactless shifting of focus from their behaviour and conduct to personal attacks on the prestige of comrade Duarte.
In the process you have exposed your oblivion to South Africa’s and ANC’s anti-racist and anti-colonial credentials and have opportunistically abused your constitutional right to free speech to please your cabal and faction, justifying a genocide and crimes against humanity.
I am convinced that you and others of your kind will be unmasked very soon both for the roles you play in Supporting the apartheid regime here in South Africa and destroying African lives.
In your letter you also failed to introduce a disclaimer, that in fact the shallow and juvenile views were yours only and not of the patriotic South African Jews. For this failure the Jewish community would be quite lenient and merciful if it were not to haul you to the court for defaming it.
Every two or three years, Israel launches a massive military assault upon largely unarmed Palestinians in Gaza. It did this in December 2008 to January 2009. It did it again in November 2012. On each occasion hundreds of Palestinians are murdered and thousands more maimed.
Every time, Israel claims the moral high ground for its brutal, barbaric action. It blames Hamas, an important component of the Palestinian liberation movement. Between 29 September 2000 and 23 June 2014, 1,523 Palestinian children were killed by Israelis. It is also worth noting that between the two dates, 6,876 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli colonialists.
Israel is determined to show friend and foe that it is above the law, that the norms that apply to other states bear no relevance to it. It is “exceptional” because the Jews are a “chosen people.”
The Netanyahu regime is also worried that more and more people especially in Europe and Africa are beginning to appreciate the justice of the Palestinian cause as reflected in the growing support of big corporations and universities for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s post -1967 occupation of Palestinian land. In order to check this trend, Netanyahu is once again playing the victim card especially with Europe in mind.
There will continue to be massacres of this sort in the future unless the fundamental cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is addressed. It is widely accepted that the root of the conflict is Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. It is because of their situation— their dispossession —that Palestinians are sometimes even prepared to resort to violence in order to restore their dignity.
This is something that the Israeli elite and its backers in the West should understand. As it has been said on numerous occasions, there will be no security for Israelis unless there is justice for the Palestinians and other Arabs.
You know all too well that Palestine is under a brutal Apartheid occupation and that Hamas is a legitimate Palestinian resistance group. Historically, violence has been a necessary tool for liberation. It’s utopian to think that the Nazis could have been subdued by peaceful means, just as it is naive to think that the racist Israelis can be subdued by peaceful means.
The French resistance’s violence against the Nazis is STILL to this day celebrated – because they’re white Europeans, of course. God forbid that a Blackman’ resistance should get equal empathy or support.
Hamas and other resistance groups in Gaza are today fighting for their liberation and for the safety of their UNARMED people.
The must be no debate about the Palestinian people’s right to breath air and live in peace in their own native land.
The horror of Israel’s latest slaughter in Gaza speaks for itself — Even the New York Times, long known for its Zionist tendencies, has been forced to print a few stories about the high number of civilian deaths being caused by the Israeli assault on the “Warsaw Ghetto” they have made of Gaza, noting the hospitals and mosques and private homes where dozens of innocent people have been blown to pieces by Israel’s weaponry (much of it American-made).
Israel has imprisoned the people of Gaza in a stateless limbo while carefully controlling almost every aspect of their lives, including what medicines they can have, what manufacturing and building materials they are allowed and even, at times, how much food they are allowed to eat to keep the population weakened but just above malnutrition levels. This brutal regimen in daily life is of course punctuated with regular night raids, bombings, kidnappings, “disappearing” and almost weekly civilian’s deaths at the hands of Israeli colonisers. This has gone on year after year. Yet Western media — and Western politicians — are presenting a picture of a nuclear-armed, American-backed ultra-militarist Israel “under siege” from a handful of ineffective rockets fired by factions in Gaza which are answering violence with violence.
Why are you demanding that Palestinians adopt a Gandhi-like forbearance in the face of murderous oppression and relentless, widespread violence killing their children and families? They are never to respond in kind — unlike the Americans, who have killed hundreds of thousands of people in response to a single attack on their soil. This after killing, by Washington’s own admission, more than half a million children in Iraq with peacetime sanctions — against a nation which had never attacked the United States and posed no threat to it.
before I put my pen down,
As a man of G-D can you acknowledge that Israel has been subjecting Palestinian civilians to collective punishment — in clear violation of international law? Can you condemn the seven-year siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza?
This toxic blend of propaganda, subterfuge and incitement, manipulating the South African Jews into supporting your agenda will have very negative repercussions for this community.
I do not wish you luck in this absurd agenda. While I write this in my personal capacity, I hope you don’t take it personal.
African national Congress Youth KZN
End of Israel
by Gilad Atzmon / July 21st, 2014
In his speech to the nation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged yesterday that the war on Gaza is a battle for the existence of the Jewish State. Netanyahu is correct. And Israel cannot win this battle; it cannot even define what a victory might entail. Surely the battle is not about the tunnels or the militants’ underground operation, the tunnels are just weapons of resistance rather than the resistance itself. The Hamas and Gaza militants lured Israel into a battle zone in which it could never succeed and Hamas set the conditions, chose the ground and has written the terms required to conclude this cycle of violence.
For ten days Netanyahu did all he could to prevent an IDF ground operation. He was facing the reality that Israel lacks a military answer to Palestinian resistance. Netanyahu knew that a defeat on the ground would eradicate the little that remains of IDF’s power of deterrence.
Five days ago, Israel, at least in the eyes of its supporters, held the upper ground. It saw it citizens subject to an endless barrage of rockets, yet it showed relative restraint, killing Palestinian civilians only from afar, which served to convey an imaginary image of strength. But that has changed rapidly since Israel launched its ground operation. Israel is now, once again, involved in colossal war crimes against a civilian population and worse, at least strategically, its elite infantry commandos are being eradicated in a face-to-face street battle in Gaza. In spite of clear Israeli technological superiority and firepower, the Palestinian militants are winning the battle on the ground and they have even managed to move the battle to Israeli territory. In addition, the barrage of rockets on Tel Aviv doesn’t seem to stop.
IDF’s defeat in Gaza leaves the Jewish State with no hope. The moral is simple. If you insist on living on someone else’s land, military might is an essential ingredient to discourage the dispossessed from acting to reclaim their rights. The level of IDF casualties and the number of bodies of Israeli elite soldiers returning home in coffins send a clear message to both Israelis and Palestinians. Israeli military superiority belongs to the past. There is no future for the Jews-only-State in Palestine; they may have to try somewhere else.
Gilad Atzmon, now living in London, was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He is the author of The Wandering Who and one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read other articles by Gilad, or visit Gilad’s website.