Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

SOUTH AFRICA, HAMAS-PLO RECONCILIATION AND GILAD SHALIT

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About Maurice Ostroff
Email letter from Maurice Ostroff to the South African Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Mr. Ismail Coovadia

May 9, 2011

 

Dear Ambassador Coovadia,

 

I thank you for sending me a copy of the statement by the South African government on the rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas and I enthusiastically endorse the sentiment expressed "we urge all Palestinian factions to unite behind a reformed Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) so as to carry forward the hopes and aspirations of all Palestinians for freedom, self-determination and human dignity".

           

I believe you will agree that Israel and the Palestinians can gain from studying South Africa's successful bloodless transition  and that the united PLO-Hamas government to which you refer would make a giant step towards peace if it adopted a new combined charter based on the the ANC's Freedom Charter.

 

Unfortunately the hate-filled PLO and Hamas covenants bear no similarity at all to the ANC Charter which states “South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation - not war”. By stark contrast, the Hamas charter declares that there is absolutely no room for peaceful negotiation. Article 13 unambiguously states  so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences contradict its principles and  are a waste of time since there is no solution to the Palestinian problem except jihad; such conferences are used by the infidels to prevail over Muslim land.

 

The imaginative irrationality of the Hamas concept, so different from the sober tone of the ANC Charter, is illustrated by obsessive phobia about and promises to obliterate freemasons, rotary clubs, Lions and similar organizations. 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. It is difficult to believe that these fanciful ideas are actually written in the Hamas charter.

 

I believe you will confirm sir, that this type of irrationality  has no place in ANC thinking.  Nor would the ANC tolerate the type of incitement to violence which has been emanating for years from the mosques and PA controlled media and taught in schools from the earliest age.

 

And now with great respect sir, I suggest a confidence building measure that could create an immediate atmosphere of goodwill and encourage serious negotiations towards peace. Putting political considerations aside for the moment in favor of plain humanity,I suggest that in accordance with the concern for human dignity inherent in the ANC Charter and its noble aspirations, it would be fitting if the government  of the Rainbow Nation would insist that as a condition of its support, Hamas must immediately end the savage torture of their prisoner Gilad Shalit and his family; an unbearable torture that has continued 24 hours per day, 7days a week for nearly five years in flagrant violation of human decency, international law and the Geneva convention. 

 

I am calling merely for compliance with the Third Geneva Convention that provides for humane treatment and the right to unfettered access to the Red Cross, as well as the right to send and receive monthly letters and cards. Even the Nazis respected this provision for prisoners of war, but not only does Hamas deny these rights to Shalit, they have held him incommunicado for the entire period of his incarceration.

 

By way of contrast, Palestinian prisoners in Israel enjoy visitation rights, including conjugal visits, access to telephones, newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, lawyers' visits and even academic studies at state expense.

 

The continued mental torture of Shalit’s family compounds the crime immeasurably. What greater torture can there be than tormenting parents with  unrelenting continuous anxiety for nearly five years about whether their son is dead, or if alive, in what condition?

 

The Shalit family continues to live this horrendous nightmare, not knowing if Gilad is dead or alive and fearing that he is possibly being tortured.  To compound the heinous crime, Hamas held  a public rally during which a boy dressed in IDF uniform masqueraded as Gilad Shalit reading a letter in Hebrew, telling the jeering crowd, how he misses his parents. No human being with a conscience can refuse to protest this diabolical cruelty.

 

As mental torture is included in the UN ban on torture, the politicians dealing with Hamas  cannot ignore the deliberate torture of Gilad’s family. Clearly acts of torture are violations of both International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law. Amnesty International describes every act of torture as a crime under international law.

 

Article 1 of the UN “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” defines torture as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person….” and a study by scientists published on March 6, 2007 in “News in Science” describes mental torture as bad as physical.

 

South Africa's intervention in this humanitarian matter would be greatly appreciated by the entire civilized world and it would certainly contribute to an atmosphere of trust and goodwill, so essential to  meaningful negotiations towards a peaceful settlement.

 

I will be very grateful if you will kindly forward a copy of this email to President Zuma.

 

Sincerely

 

Maurice Ostroff

 

 

 

SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT WELCOMES AND SUPPORTS EFFORTS BY THE PALESTINIAN PARTIES TO SET UP A TRANSITIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT


The South African Government has noted the announcement by the Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas on 27 April 2011 in Cairo that they have reached an understanding with the view to set up a transitional unity government and hold elections within eight months.

The South African Government views these developments in a very positive light, especially coming as they did on the 17th anniversary of South Africa's own liberation from oppression and dawn of democratic freedom. On this day, South Africa celebrates its attainment of freedom, democracy, national reconciliation, unity and the restoration of human dignity.

The Government and people of South Africa understand the importance of national reconciliation, unity and the restoration of human dignity. Therefore South Africa would support all efforts on the part of the leaders of Palestine that would sincerely and constructively contribute towards lasting peace, stability, security and prosperity for the Palestinian people.

The South African Government commends both parties for their efforts to re-initiate reconciliation talks and hopes that they will surmount any obstacles to ensure that a firm and formal agreement is achieved in the near future. We further believe that the unity of the Palestinian people is vital for the creation of a free and democratic Palestinian State along the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its Capital.

In this regard, we urge all Palestinian factions to unite behind a reformed Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) so as to carry forward the hopes and aspirations of all Palestinians for freedom, self-determination and human dignity. We also urge all parties, including the Israeli Government, to negotiate with the leaders chosen by the Palestinian people, in order to establish a free and independent Palestinian State, living side-by-side in peace with the State of Israel.

For further information please contact Mr. Clayson Monyela spokesperson for DIRCO on 082 884 5974
Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
OR Tambo Building, 460 Soutpansberg Road
Pretoria,
29 April 2011

 

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