article in the SA Jewish Report of May 20 by former ambassador of Israel, Ilan Baruch, "South Africa has an urgent role to play" demands a reply.
assumption that the Israeli electorate votes for hawkish governments for fear of total isolation indicates a sad lack of understanding
of Israelis whose primary concern is achieving peace with security, tempered by past experiences. Much as we wish to end control
over Palestinians, we are wary of placing Ben Gurion airport within range of cheap shoulder launched missiles.
was Einstein who said that insanity is doing the same things again and again expecting different results.
Baruch's call to end occupation of all lands seized in 1967 is overly simplistic and irresponsible in ignoring vital factors
like security, incitement and refugees among others. As he recommends following Rabin's footsteps it’s relevant to recall
that in his last speech, Rabin said we won’t return to 1967 lines, united Jerusalem will include Ma'ale Adumim and Givat
Ze'ev, the security border will be in the Jordan Valley and Gush Etzion, Efrat,
Beitar will be included. (Rabin’s complete speech may be viewed at http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id308.html )
Obama’s realistic approach highlights the shallowness of Baruch's message. Obama acknowledged the new demographic realities,
he called for mutually agreed land swaps and secure recognized borders, robust provisions to prevent a resurgence of terrorism
and infiltration of weapons and a demilitarized Palestinian state in a border different than the one that existed in1967.
Baruch's reference to South African empathy with Palestinians it would have been relevant to draw attention to the fact that
the hate-filled Hamas covenant bears no similarity to the ANC Charter. Unlike Mr. Baruch, Obama recognizes this problem, saying
that Israel cannot negotiate with Palestinians
who do not recognize its right to exist.
ANC charter states "South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement
of international disputes by negotiation - not war". By contrast, article 13 of the Hamas Charter states that peaceful solutions
and international conferences contradict its principles since there is no solution to the Palestinian problem except jihad;
“such conferences are used by the infidels to prevail over Muslim land”.
irrationality is illustrated by promises to obliterate freemasons, Rotary, Lions and similar organizations that they accuse
of controlling world media, stirring the French and Communist Revolutions, World War I, World War II and replacement of the
League of Nations with the UN.
South Africa can contribute substantially
to resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict by advocating a confidence-building measure that would immediately encourage
negotiations towards peace. In view of the concern for human dignity inherent
in the ANC Charter, it would be fitting if the Rainbow Nation would insist as a condition of its support, that Hamas end the savage torture of Gilad Shalit and his family; an unbearable torture that has continued 24/7
for five years in flagrant violation of human decency and international law.
call merely for compliance with the Third Geneva Convention that provides for access to the Red Cross and freedom to send
and receive monthly letters and cards. Even the Nazis respected this provision that Hamas continues to deny Shalit while holding
way of contrast, Palestinian prisoners in Israel
enjoy visitation rights, conjugal visits, telephones, newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, lawyers' visits and even
academic studies at state expense.
continued mental torture of Shalit’s family compounds the crime immeasurably. What greater torture can there be than
tormenting parents with continuous anxiety for five years about whether their
son is dead, or if alive, in what condition?
Shalit family continues to live this horrendous nightmare, not knowing if Gilad is 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 telling the jeering crowd how he misses his parents. No human being with
a conscience can refuse to protest this diabolical cruelty.
mental torture is included in the UN ban on torture, the politicians dealing with Hamas cannot ignore the deliberate torture
of Gilads family. Torture violates both International Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Law. Article 1 of the UN Convention
Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment defines torture as any act causing pain or suffering,
whether physical or mental 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 applauded 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.