By Iqbal Jassat – South Africa
It’s pretty well known that the Israeli massacre of Palestinians could only happen with the complicit approval of leading actors on the international stage. These are not confined to the West only. Arab, Asian and African leaders are guilty too for having turned a blind eye to these atrocious killings of women, children, the elderly and the infirm.
It’s expected that the Anglo/American axis will not only appear to be seemingly "helpless", but that their role in subverting the Palestinian freedom struggle as "terrorism", encourages these gut-wrenching massacres. Thus, the so-called legitimacy of America’s discredited "war on terror", which is being vigorously debated in various academic circles and policy research units, is the same kind of dubious "legitimacy" which Israel is clinging to. This proverbial clutching of straws does not bode well for the Olmert regime, for evidently, misguided policies such as these have placed Israel at the edge of the cliff.
What does it mean? It implies that with the imminent failure of shot-gun practices of the type that has allowed the US and Israel to ignore, defy and manipulate International Conventions, coupled with the unprecedented global fury at Zionist violation of fundamental human rights, Israel is likely to implode. Such an internal implosion will result in the end of Israel as the world knows it. Already voices critical of Israeli state terrorism have grown louder within the colonial-settler state. And these voices belong to Jewish academics, journalists, activists and others.
But do these voices who include a startling number of conscientious objectors or refuseniks, constitute expressions of anti-Semitism? Certainly not! So while these encouraging changes are beginning to manifest within Israeli society and have begun to challenge Israel’s right to exist as an exclusive Jewish entity, it appears that South African politics and media remain in a state of hypnosis. This is clearly evident in the tame approach adopted by mainstream politicians and media – with some honourable exceptions – in dealing appropriately with Israel’s terrible destruction in Gaza.
Many examples abound, though the most significant is the deafening silence of political formations such as the DA, ACDP, as well as individual voices belonging to the ever-ready chorus of critics of everything from Mugabe to Zuma except Israel. Media too suffers from an over zealous and largely obsessive "rules" to provide what is mistakenly referred to as "balance".
The combination of silent observers, whether in parliament or in the plush comforts of their respective political offices with the unnecessary platform provided to Jewish "leaders", such as the Chief Rabbi or the SA Zionist Federation and the Jewish Board, is devoid of any morality. Indeed, it suggests that Israel is viewed as a "holy cow" and thus must be dealt with deference. It also unfairly implies that the gross violations of human rights currently broadcast via graphic images of babies mutilated by Israeli Occupation Forces, is permissible providing some or other interpretation is provided by Jewish "leaders". In turn their defensive arguments are built on false fears and alarm about Hamas’ "terrorism" which ignores or mutilates facts about its credentials as a liberation movement.
There is a need to break out of this restrictive approach. Self-censorship is on the increase with refusals to host voices critical of Israel. If Naeem Jeena or Salim Vally of the Palestine Solidarity Committee – or indeed if members of the Media Review Network – are called upon to comment or write about Palestine, media feels constrained to have an "opposing" voice from the ranks of the SA Jewish Board or SAZF. Never from the "Not In My Name" group or from an illustrious list of Jewish individuals supportive of Palestinian rights and distinctly non-apologists for Israeli crimes.
The no-win situation facing Israel which ultimately will be forced to acknowledge that suppressing freedoms, especially through the use of military means, cannot succeed. And that apologists who from remote distances, such as Sandton and Cape Town, justify and underwrite such repression, are a huge liability for their cause. Just look at George W Bush and Condoleeza Rice to get a sense of the humiliation they have had to face from Olmert’s fury on revelations about the UN Security Council vote.
Israel is a bully and a braggart! It behaves with arrogance and conceit! What else explains its mindless bombing spree of schools, universities, mosques, hospitals, ambulances and supposedly safe havens administered by the United Nations and the International Red Cross?
Unless the ANC government issues a clear and unambigious message of revulsion backed up by concrete actions of the type demonstrated by Venezuela and Bolivia, Israeli war crimes will escalate. A rupture in trade and diplomatic ties will demonstrate that our collective concerns about the need to protect and restore human rights is deeply rooted in our historic struggle against apartheid.
Lets end the Palestinian nightmare by ensuring that SA media is not inhibited by threats and scare tactics. Thus far only 3 newspaper editorials have been devoted to the carnage in Gaza. Why not the rest?
– Iqbal Jassat is the Chairman of the Media Review Network (www.mediareviewnet.com). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.