By Shafiq Morton – Cape Town
A story in the Jerusalem Post of May 22 "World Christian legislators meet in DC to buttress support for Israel" has passed by unnoticed in South Africa. In a country where robust debate on the Middle East still exists, and where AIPAC-style lobby groups are not able to shout down criticism of Israel, it is surprising.
One would have thought that African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader the Rev Kenneth Meshoe’s most recent pro-Zionist utterance – the intention to form a pro-Israeli lobby in our very own South African parliament – would have elicited a barrage of public comment.
Speaking after a two-day conference in Washington, hosted by the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, which brought together evangelical pro-Israeli parliamentarians from nine countries, the Rev Meshoe supported an initiative to form sister caucuses in a further thirteen countries, including South Africa.
“Many Christians in South Africa fear speaking out for what we believe in and what our convictions are, and so there is a real need in our country for a caucus to stand up in defence of Israel,” he told the Jerusalem Post.
Once associated with Reinhard Bonnke, a German missionary who wanted “to break down the gates of Islam” in Africa and who allegedly caused anti-Christian riots in Nigeria, the Rev Meshoe has moved on in public life – being elected to parliament and developing an intimate, unquestioning relationship with Israel, and publicly alluding to Palestinian resistance as “terrorism”.
And whilst suicide bombing – the apparent butt of his criticism – has indeed raised serious question, if not censure, the Reverend has failed to notice this: as he has the fact that for over 60 years, Palestinians have seldom breached international law. Palestinian governments (including the much-maligned Hamas) have not had to face a countless parade of UN resolutions on state terror as Israel has.
Yet when he addressed the media in Jerusalem during the Jewish Succot Festival of 2003, the Rev Meshoe had the temerity to proclaim that Apartheid in Israel was a “lie”, and expressed support for Israel’s heavy-handedness (his own words) in wiping out “terrorism”, his apparent reference to the Al-Aqsa Intifada.
But this was the same man whose party tried to tell parliament in 2001 that the forced ethnic-cleansing of 800, 000 Palestinians by the Zionists in 1948 was a myth. According to the ACDP, nearly 70% of Palestinians fled their homes voluntarily at the behest of Arab leaders, a fairy-story taught in Israel’s schools to obscure what really happened – 531 Palestinian villages and 11 urban centres de-populated by the Hagana with guns, TNT, tanks and even flame-throwers.
The Rev Meshoe said his intentions were to see that people got “two sides of the story”. In South Africa a person saw much vocal support for Palestinians on the one side, but complete silence on the right of Israel to exist as a state on the other.
When asked about Palestinians being at butt end of Israeli injustice, he said that when people believed in non-violence they had to bring in other perspectives too. “When I suffered under Apartheid I firmly believed in non-violence, and I did not throw stones.”
Responding to a question on what kind of “defence” Israel needed, he replied that Israel needed “safe and secure borders”, and “recognition”. But when pressed on Hamas’ offers of peace – on the basis of a return to the 1967 borders (a tacit recognition of Israel) before further talks, he deferred to Iran.
“Nobody must call for the annihilation of anybody. We have to accept that everybody has the right to safe and secure borders.”
When I asked Rev Meshoe if he would openly condemn Israeli terror against peaceful Palestinian resistance, he said yes, he would condemn such Israeli actions as he explicitly believed in non-violence.
Upon hearing Rev Meshoe’s intentions to establish a pro-Israeli lobby group in parliament, Maulana Igshan Hendricks, President of South Africa’s Muslim Judicial Council, said that he doubted whether Rev Meshoe represented the sentiments of the majority of South Africa’s justice-loving Christians.
“I can’t see how our parliament would endorse such a cause…how as democratic South Africans we could ever support the same,” he said.
“Remember the honourable Reverend has the luxury to express himself in a democratic society. (Before then) we believed collectively that Apartheid was an evil, and that should not make us differ in our principles with regards to (the evils of) Israel. We have the same twinning between Apartheid and Zionism, though Zionism is far worse,” he said.
The attempts of Rev Meshoe to establish a pro-Israeli lobby in South Africa’s parliament are hardly new in the global framework of Zionist mission work. As the Zionist project weakens demographically, and as young Diasporic Jews lose interest in Israel, the lobby has had to remain on the move, or drown like a shark.
Jonathan Cook, the British journalist based in Palestine, says that Israel has to remain restless, constantly reinventing itself and its policies to ensure that its ethnic project – hungrily devouring the Palestinian homeland – does not lose legitimacy. By keeping a step ahead of the analysts and worldwide opinion, Israel “creates facts on the ground…”
And that is the endgame. Create facts, facts and confusing facts – even if they’re produced with the dazzling PR of smoke-and-mirrors.
To this effect, the Zionist lobby has infiltrated many influential political groups in the US and Europe. Even Barak Obama has been duped, fawningly and oh-so naively telling a recent American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference that Jerusalem had to be the “undivided capital” of Israel.
But Washington, Israel’s unquestioning ally since 1967, is not the only centre of fanatical Israeli influence-mongering. Europe has been a more silent, but no less influential player. In 2006, European Union parliamentarians formed the European Friends for Israel, an organisation reportedly modeled on AIPAC.
Great Britain has also played a leading role in the Israeli lobby, the Labour Friends of Israel being founded in 1957. Its operational principle within “New Labour” has been to provide unconditional support for Israel. One of its more recent fund-raisers was the shadowy Lord Michael Levy, Tony Blair’s Middle East envoy.
The Conservative Party also has its Conservative Friends of Israel who proclaim on their web-site that it “helps make the case for Israel inside the Conservative Party”, and boasts that in 2006 almost two-thirds of its MP’s were members.
Not to be outdone, the Liberal-Democrats have their Friends of Israel society too. It’s not an exaggeration that the objectivity of British politics on the Israeli-Palestinian issue – the critical vigour of its civic society notwithstanding – is as questionable as that of the United States.
For decades Zionist benefactors have played obsessively upon Holocaust guilt, and the security chestnut, to leech support for Israel’s cause. This lobby knows full well that no public figure enjoys being labeled “anti-Semitic”, and that by spuriously linking “anti-Semitism” to any criticism of Israel, it can censure public opinion.
Its power is alleged to be so pervasive that former Knesset member and Gush Shalom stalwart, Uri Avnery, once quipped that if the Israeli Knesset wanted an American law to annul the Ten Commandments, at least 95 Senators would immediately rush to sign the bill.
-Shafiq Morton is a Cape Town based photo-journalist, author and radio show host. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.