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19:49 08/31/2010
Defence of Apartheid Israel Unjustifiable

By Iqbal Jassat – Pretoria

I wonder whether pro-Israeli apologists ever sense the sheer hopelessness of their desperate attempts to shield the apartheid regime from legitimate and necessary criticism.

Having had the misfortune of reading the misguided views of Benjamin Pogrund [Sunday Independent, August 29], I am convinced that his angry attempt to admonish South Africans vis-à-vis their negative stance against Israel, reflects poor judgment.

By calling into question the actions of striking people within the public sector, he then demands that due to the unacceptable behavior accompanying the strikes, South Africa has no right to stand in judgment of poor little Israel.

Apart from the total lack of logic in his futile attempt to exploit the legitimate grievances of strikers, Pogrund displayed his unashamed loyalty to a pariah state that has been stripped of all morality due to its aggressive policies of oppression, occupation, racism and unending wars of destruction.

What I find even more amazing is his dismissal of critical views by “columnists” and “former government leaders” as ranging from plain ignorance to vicious distortions. The inherent arrogance in Pogrund’s righteous contempt of these faceless critics is embedded in his “basic fact” that Israel is under “constant threat”.

As usual and in common with most propagandists for Israel, he implies that these critics possess streaks of anti-semitism. Its outrageous for one who claims a journalist’s pedigree to make such outlandish allegations as “…their views seem to come out of underlying dark feelings about Israel and Jews”!

Yet as a journalist he ought to be familiar with the views of many prominent voices in the Israeli media, who unlike Pogrund, have the courage and independence to boldly state facts in the face of brutal power. 

One such journalist is the legendary Amira Hass whose views do not enjoy the support of the Israeli regime. This becomes clear when her analytical views are digested: “An ideology that divides the world into those who are worth more and those who are worth less, into superior and inferior beings, does not have to reach the dimensions of the German genocide to be wrong”.

Instead of threatening to close his ears – “I don’t want to hear anything about Israel from these pundits” – Pogrund can tell his friends in the right-wing Netanyahu government to stop killing Palestinians!

Choosing to stick his head in the ground, ostrich fashion may be an option for him. My advice though to him is to be mindful of the pitfalls of “looking from the side”. This is the moving lesson from Hass’s recollection of the moment her mother Hannah was being marched from a cattle train to the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in 1944. 

Only by understanding the historic disaster in Palestine and the scale of the injustice done to the Palestinians, will people such as Pogrund appreciate what Nelson Mandela has called “the greatest moral issue of our time”.

- Iqbal Jassat is chairperson of the Media Review Network (MRN), an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com.

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