May 21, 2006
Dear Minister Ronnie
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
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.
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.