An Open Letter to Cosatu President, Willie Madisha
Dear Mr. Madisha
with great sadness that I read the headline in the Mail and Guardian of July 10, reporting your speech to Cosatu "Apartheid Israel worse than apartheid SA".
sad because I can fully appreciate that in the light of the information available to you from mainstream media, the situation
appears as you described it. Yet from personal experience as a member of anti-apartheid movements when I lived in South Africa
as well as from my experience in Israel, I know that the accusation that Israel is an apartheid state is completely baseless.
sir that you will allow me to present some factual information, which, as a reasonable man, may lead you to reconsider your
well know, in South Africa, apartheid was entrenched in the law and strictly enforced. The law not only denied the vote to
Black citizens, it legislated to force discrimination in almost every aspect of daily life. In stark contrast, Israel’s
Declaration of Independence specifically ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all inhabitants irrespective
of religion, race, or gender. Israeli Muslims, Christians, Druse and other minority groups enjoy exactly the same civil and
political rights as Jews. They serve in the Knesset and speak freely against the government. On the other hand, Israel's Arab
neighbors strictly enforce gender and religious apartheid.
visit to any Israeli hospital will convince the most biased individual about the complete absence of any form of racial discrimination.
Arab and Jewish doctors collaborate easily and in some hospitals Arabs outnumber Jewish patients. Especially noticeable after
bombing incidents, which have become too common, is the equal treatment given to victims and perpetrators. An Israeli nurse
has been quoted saying, "All patients are human beings, but sometimes when we experience these terrible deeds and see the
mangled bodies of victims, we have to suppress our emotions when treating the perpetrators. It is so difficult to understand
how they can do the inhuman things they do "
Israel is not perfect. There are aspects that need improvement, but we are proud that human rights organizations work vigorously
and freely here and that our law courts do not hesitate to rule against the government when necessary. But the defects in
Israel are no worse than in most other democracies including the new South Africa. For example the COSATU Political Discussion
Document for the September 2006 National Congress states that at a micro-enterprise level, the promise of democracy has been
thwarted and that the apartheid world order and discipline have been re-imposed in many South African workplaces.
can spare a few moments from your busy schedule, please click on the following links to read more detailed information about
apartheid in Israel, the Israel-SA connection and the part played by Jews in the anti-apartheid movements.
and other opinion makers create the impression that there is a direct comparison between the captured Israeli soldier and
the Palestinians in Israeli jails. They ignore an all-important difference. The families of Palestinian prisoners in Israel
know where their loved ones are. They visit them and communicate by telephone. By contrast, the Palestinians deliberately
keep the families of captives in a state of unbearable anxiety by holding their captives incommunicado; emulating the late
Yassir Arafat. In an exquisite refinement of torture in 1993, Arafat acknowledged that he knew the fate of missing in action
soldier Zachary Baumel and handed one half of Baumel's identity tag to Yitzchak Rabin, with a firm promise that more information
about Baumel and other MIA's would be forthcoming. He never kept that promise.
Mr. Madisha, as a family man, I am sure you cannot condone this type of inhuman behavior. May one hope that you will be moved to demand that, at the very least, the kidnappers allow the captured
soldier to be visited by the Red Cross or other neutral persons and to telephone to his parents in their presence.
same media and other opinion makers ignore the context in which events occur. They ignore, Israel's restrained reaction, until
now, to the more than one thousand deadly missiles fired at Israeli towns during the past twelve months since Israel unilaterally
left Gaza. They also ignore Palestinians diverting their resources to firing missiles instead of creating employment and trade
opportunities in the hothouses left behind by the Israelis. It is difficult to understand their wanton destruction of these
valuable assets, which could have done a great deal to improve the quality of life of Gazans.
only by the grace of the almighty that casualties have not been greater; certainly not due to lack of intent to kill and maim
as many civilians as possible. In making their hasty judgments, these opinion
makers fail to take account of the "intent and "malice aforethought" of the people
who fire these rockets deliberately into populated areas. Surely, you will agree that such deliberate attempts to kill, even
when they don’t achieve their objectives, are heinous offences, deserving severest condemnation
at an intersection in Sderot, a town suffering multiple daily rocket attacks, a community center is located adjacent to elementary
schools and preschools. At this normally busy intersection, two craters bear
testimony to tragedies narrowly averted through sheer luck or divine intervention. One
missile landed just 15 minutes after the intersection had been filled with children.
Israel aims its missiles at specific hostile targets, taking pains to minimize collateral damage and holds critical internal
enquiries whenever uninvolved persons are hurt unintentionally.
the Palestinian people deserve a better life, but they have been unfortunate in lacking leadership of the caliber of Nelson
Mandela. Who can doubt that, had Yasser Arafat possessed half of Mandela's qualities, he and Ehud Barak, would have achieved
a satisfactory peace agreement at Camp David.
ANC and Hamas
As the first chairman of the ANC in the Zebediela area, you are no doubt justifiably
proud of the Congress' lofty principles set out in the Freedom Charter. While the ANC's empathy with the Palestinians is a
natural and understandable result of having been comrades in arms, the commonality unfortunately ends there.
A brief examination of the Hamas Charter, explains the intractability of the present conflict. While the ANC Charter
states "South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation
- not war" the Hamas Covenant makes it perfectly clear that there is absolutely no
room for peaceful negotiation. Article 13 unambiguously declares, "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. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."
Sir, you will confirm 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 violence, which has been emanating for years from the mosques and PA controlled media and taught
in schools from the earliest age.
Programmes for Blacks in Israel during the apartheid era
known was the unpublicized, ongoing program in Israel during the apartheid era, organized by the Histadrut and opposed by
the South African government, to train Black South Africans in leadership agriculture and organization. The Center for International
Cooperation ("MASHAV") of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has over the years carried out capacity-building and technology-transfer
activities in 30 different African countries. Some of the courses were carried out at several teaching and training facilities
in Israel. Others were conducted in the relevant countries, including long-term agricultural projects, The "He-atid" programme
also continues to organize training sessions in Israel for Black middle managers.
I would very much appreciate
your considered response