Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 22 July 2014/24 Ramadan 1435

The loss of lives continues unabated in Gaza, as Israel’s military unleashes violence on unarmed and defenceless civilian Palestinians. Like umpteenth other aggressive incursions in an already-besieged Gaza, aptly termed “open air prison”, the latest attacks have elicited a global war of words. The tiny but densely-populated Gaza, home to 1.5 million people, is bleeding from airstrikes from Israel opposed to Palestine’s unity government.

Global mainstream media cast Hamas as a criminal and terrorist organisation and speak of Israel’s right to defend its people. The latter part suggests Palestinians are sub-humans or that Israeli citizens are superior. This attitude harks to the days of apartheid. Like Hamas, freedom fighters, and the now-celebrated Nelson Mandela, were dismissed as terrorists while apartheid forces were praised. Failure to describe the IDF, or other Tel Aviv agencies, as terrorist either condones or misses their dark side. Israel’s terror attacks should be condemned by all justice-loving people regardless of their ethnicity or religion. Blaming the oppressed for resisting subjugation or advancing their struggle for self-determination is akin to supporting domination.

The same confusion explains the heating exchange locally amid the unabated IDF-driven Ramadan massacres, in Gaza, where more than 500 people have demised in two weeks. The atrocities is not what United Nations officials, who have seen Palestinians massacred inordinately umpteen times, imagined when they declared 2014 the year of solidarity with this oppressed people. It is a travesty by all measures. Pro-Palestinian, but measured, SA’s ruling ANC has thus likened Binyamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler, Israeli and German leaders synonymous with the “ethnic cleansing” misnomer.

“As we move towards the month of August and are reminded of the atrocities of Nazi Germany, surely we must ask the people of Israel has the term ‘lest we forget’ lost its meaning,” wrote the ANC’s Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte, referring to the 1940s Holocaust that claimed 10 million lives (both Jews and justice-loving or progressive non-Jews). “The state of Israel has turned the occupied territories of Palestine into permanent death camps.”

Without backing his take, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein blasted Duarte for likening Netanyahu with Hitler and Israel’s “barbaric attacks” on “defenceless Palestinian people of Gaza”. Much as Pretoria terrorised defenceless black South Africans, the Jewish community in Germany (and elsewhere in Europe) perished due to its ethnicity. The same now applies to the Palestinians, a Semitic group that doesn’t exist according to Netanyahu. This, and the ever-rising death toll, might have eluded Goldstein but not Israel’s right to defend herself. It’s a “blinkered” stance lamented by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

Instead, Chief Rabbi criticised the ANC leader for her “hate-filled outburst” that is “so grotesquely untrue that it cannot be left to stand without the proper public scrutiny provided by a one-on-one debate”.

While deriding his PR stunt, the Foundation expressed shock at “the one-sided and blinkered response” of Goldstein to Duarte. “The ANC’s unequivocal stance in the Palestinian crisis is consistent with the global outpouring of anger and a desire to see an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine,” the human rights and non-racism organisation, propagating the views of anti-apartheid war veteran Kathrada, said in a statement last week.

“The Chief Rabbi’s response, together with that of the myriad of Zionist lobby groups in South Africa, deflects from the real issues at stake,” it continued. This is the crux of the issue. Whether Hamas, whose resistance struggle can be likened to the ANC’s against apartheid, fires projectiles or sits back while the IDF massacres Palestinians or destroys property in Gaza shouldn’t convolute matters. This country’s racists relied on such convoluted theories to sew fear that in turn maintained apartheid. Is Israel applying the same trick to maintain political Zionism that denies Palestinians existence and self-determination? That is the issue, notes the foundation. To this end, Israel should stop breaching international laws, and give up terrorist occupation and “the indiscriminate targeting of civilians – particularly women, children, the aged and the disabled.”

Turning to Goldstein’s challenge for a one-on-one debate with Duarte – while the IDF, which has in turn lost more than of its members since the incursion began, continues to hurt and kill scores of civilians – the non-racism group chastised this “man of the cloth” for what it said was his attempt “to personalise this matter”. The foundation also condemned Chief Rabbi’s alleged threats against Deputy Minister Obed Bapela, who this month reported at a pro-Palestinian solidarity event that Goldstein “had called him after the release of the ANC statement and asked him to disassociate himself from the statement and further demanded that it be removed from the website of the ANC.” According to the foundation, when Bapela said it would not be done, Goldstein indicated there would be “consequences” for the ANC. “The report of the Deputy Minister on the conduct of the Chief Rabbi is particularly worrisome for the Foundation.”

Without conceding that Netanyahu has turned Israel into a pariah apartheid or Nazist state, permanently hounding Palestinians in “collective punishment”, Goldstein, while visiting Jerusalem, told the media that Duarte’s views “betrayed the South African dream”. Chief Rabbi wants the ruling party’s official to be “held accountable for her morally repugnant words, which have brought the ANC into disrepute.”

Again, while the tug of war continues between the Zionists and justice-loving world citizens, scores of Palestinians are being killed and thousands more injured and psychologically traumatised as we speak. Defenders of 21st century Zionism and “ethnic cleansing” prefer semantics. So the cycle goes on. If Madiba’s words are anything to go by, the justice-loving South African Chief Rabbi and the many locals he represents and non-Jews are not free.

On the eve of Mandela Day, liberation struggle grandee Kathrada urged South Africans to dedicate their time or 67 minutes, in honour of his late comrade, to the Palestinian cause. Indeed, said Kathrada, invoking Madiba: ours is the struggle of the people of Palestine. “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” said Kathrada, quoting Madiba last week. The same Mandela’s ANC fought domination in its backyard.