By Iqbal Jassat
The author of an important piece of critique ‘Jewishness of Israel fuels xenophobia’, Heidi-Jane Esakov, published in the Mail & Guardian (June 1 to 7, 2012) can expect to be blasted by an intolerant pro-Israeli lobby for daring to profile the Jewish state in a negative light.
That Esakov is a Jewish South African who in her own words "grew up under apartheid" and is "shamed" by racism against black Africans in Israel is admirable and extremely courageous.
This though will not be of any consequence for SA Zionists bent on spitting venom upon anyone crossing the line according to their narrow self-serving interest in defending Israel’s false image as a "democracy" with "full rights for all its citizens".
In fact as Esakov correctly argues, the links between the treatment of Israel’s own Palestinian citizens and the xenophobic attacks are stark!
"Israeli Palestinians, despite being heralded as proof of Israel being a democracy, contend with about 40 discriminatory laws" asserts Esakov in highlighting the naked reality of a colonial enclave far-removed from democracy!
Facts about denial of fundamental human rights are well known and extensively documented by highly acclaimed scholars, historians and eminent researchers.
Notwithstanding this, pro-Israeli lobbyists in their ostrich-type approach hold onto a narrative that is both inaccurate and tarnished by deliberate distortions.
It’s a tough battle for such Israeli pressure groups to swim against the current and explains why in utter desperation they resort to despicable slander and abuse.
It won’t surprise me to discover that Esakov has come under attack by being maligned as a "self-hating Jew" – among some of the foul epithets reserved for brave Jewish souls able to articulate their humanity in solidarity with the unfortunate victims of Zionist oppression.
After all, a number of SA Jews – notably Ronnie Kasrils, Steven Friedman, Jonathan Shapiro – and many more have faced fierce personal attacks and subjected to harsh censure for raising key issues related to the routine injustice flowing from Israel’s criminal conduct.
Indeed even the archbishop-emeritus of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu has not been spared.
Despite efforts to tarnish him, Tutu has steadfastly held onto his views, the latest being an op-ed published in the Tampa Bay Times.
Here he recalls how a quarter-century ago he barnstormed around the United States encouraging Americans, particularly students to press for divestment from South Africa.
"Today, regrettably, the time has come for similar action to force an end to Israel’s long-standing occupation of Palestinian territory and refusal to extend equal rights to Palestinian citizens who suffer from some 35 discriminatory laws", argued Tutu in an eloquent rebuttal of American rabbis’ "misguided" opposition to divestment!
What I found to be particularly relevant about Esakov’s brilliant piece was her ability to unearth blatant inhumanity of this latest round of xenophobic attacks on helpless African refugees in the land of "milk and honey" – obviously reserved only for a particular race group!
– Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the Media Review Network, Johannesburg – South Africa. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.