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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

An open letter to South African Minister Ronnie Kasrils

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Some facts about Israel and apartheid

 May 21, 2006

 

Dear Minister Ronnie Kasrils

 

Your article “Israel should face sanctions” (The Guardian, May 19, 2006)

 

I heartily agree with your statement, “There is no excuse for not knowing the truth about what is now happening to the Palestinians” and I hope you will join me in examining some facts so that we can establish the unbiased truth.

 

Your empathy for the PLO as fellow freedom fighters is absolutely understandable in view of your praiseworthy role amongst the first anti-apartheid guerrillas. I hope, however that if I remind you of some concrete facts, you will agree that the parallels you draw between the ANC struggle against apartheid and the Palestinian struggle are not quite congruent

 

In presenting these facts, I draw on my experience when I lived in South Africa. As an early, low-key anti-apartheid activist and member of the Springbok Legion as well as the Federation of Progressive Students, of which the late Ruth First was a founder, I admired some great personalities who you certainly also knew very well. I speak for example of the late Jock Isacowitz and the late Wolfie Kodesh. As you know, the Springbok Legion was formed during WW2 by South African soldiers who objected to the discriminatory treatment meted out to their fellow Black soldiers. It was probably the first mass movement of whites promoting the liberation of Blacks.

 

But most of all I was influenced by Chief Albert Luthuli. Even after the massacre at Sharpeville in 1961 he was quoted as saying "How easy it would have been in South Africa for the natural feelings of resentment at white domination to have been turned into feelings of hatred and a desire for revenge against the white community. Here, where every day in every aspect of life, every non-white comes up against the ubiquitous sign, "Europeans Only," and the equally ubiquitous policeman to enforce it - here it could well be expected that a racialism equal to that of their oppressors would flourish to counter the white arrogance towards blacks. That it has not done so is no accident. It is because, deliberately and advisedly, African leadership for the past 50 years, with the inspiration of the African National Congress which I had the honour to lead for the last decade or so until it was banned, had set itself steadfastly against racial vain-gloriousness."

 

I have not heard any statements from the PLO or Hamas remotely resembling the Chief’s inspiring message. Have you?

 

The sad but factual difference between the ANC and the PLO or Hamas is that the latter two have been unfortunate in lacking leadership of the caliber of Chief Luthuli or Nelson Mandela. Who can doubt that, had Yasser Arafat possessed some of their qualities, he and Ehud Barak, would have achieved a satisfactory peace agreement?

 

You refer negatively to the efforts of Western leaders to get the Hamas government to recognize Israel and adhere to earlier agreements. It is extremely doubtful that in similar circumstances the ANC under Chief Luthuli or President Mandela would have acted as Hamas is doing, in adamantly refusing these obvious essentials before any move towards a peaceful solution can even be started.

 

The lofty aims of the ANC's Freedom Charter bears no similarity whatsoever, to the hate-filled PLO and Hamas covenants. In fact such comparisons are insulting to the ANC. While the ANC Charter states "South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation - not war" article 9 of the PLO Charter declares bluntly that the armed struggle is not merely tactical, it is the overall strategy. Article 19 rejects outright, the 1947 UN partition of Palestine, implying that liberating Palestine means destruction of the entire Jewish state. The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are unashamedly deemed null and void in article 20.

 

The Hamas charter makes it even clearer that there is absolutely no room for peaceful negotiation. Article 13 unambiguously states, "Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.

 

The imaginative irrationality of the Hamas concept, so different from the sober tone of the ANC Charter, is illustrated by obsessive phobia about freemasons, rotary clubs, Lions and similar organizations, promising that the day Islam is in control, these organizations, will be obliterated. They are accused of everything from control of the world media, stirring the French Revolution, the Communist revolution, World War I and even of forming the League of Nations. They are alleged to have been behind World War II, and instigating replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council.

 

I believe you will confirm sir, that this type of irrational hate, had, and still has, no place in ANC thinking. Nor would the ANC tolerate the type of incitement to indiscriminate violence against uninvolved civilians, (women, children and invalids alike), which has been emanating for years from the mosques and PA controlled media and taught in schools from the earliest age.

 

Minister Kasrils, may I hope, that with your credentials as a former leader in the MK, you may be able to persuade the PA government to adopt some of the noble concepts, which led the ANC to achieve a bloodless revolution in South Africa, so as to open the way to a peaceful solution of the Arab-Israel conflict.

 

 

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