During a hectic spell around the beginning of 2009, I remember a message from trade unionist Bongani Masuku, in which he made a very profound observation. The gist of it was that the struggle against apartheid required its total eradication not seeking some form of adjustment with it that would result in “peace under apartheid”.
Masuku, who spearheaded a series of civil-society initiatives on behalf of South Africa’s powerful labour movement COSATU to express solidarity for the Palestinian cause, injected a unique form of dynamism to anti-Israeli activism.
His role remains as crucial and dynamic as before despite efforts by the pro-Israeli lobby to silence him. And herein lies the paradox confronting groups who purport to represent SA Jewry while the sum total of their domestic politics can be summed up as defenders of a foreign entity characterized by a strange mix of colonialism and apartheid.
The reality of intolerance as a cardinal tenet within the Zionist movement’s propaganda armoury has unfortunately become an unchallenged facet of life within sectors of government, media and commerce.
To illustrate this, look at the angry rebuttals issued by elements within the pro-Israel lobby each time government finds the need to issue statements critical of Israel.
The most recent example is the open letter addressed to Archbishop Tutu asking him to desist from campaign for sanctions against Israel. It’s a long-winded plea filled with distortions, misrepresentations and untruths seeking Tutu to desist from his iconic support for Palestinian justice.
Though it may surprise some to discover that the author of this futile plea is Warren Goldstein, the Chief Rabbi of SA; my expectation that he would rally to Israel’s defense –” come hell or high water –” is based on his performance as a loyal lobbyist since his appointment.
So in addition to the hardline anti-Tutu position adopted by Israel’s diplomatic mission in Pretoria, it is nonsensical for the Chief Rabbi to do the same in religious garb and intone a message of “tolerance” for Israeli intolerance!
Sounds incredible that the Jewish rabbi would call on the Christian bishop to ignore and walk away from cries of pain, anguish and suffering resulting from decades of ethnic cleansing?
It’s a pattern that seems to have become more pronounced following Israel’s destructive war on Gaza. Lobbyists behaving as aggressively as war criminals to shield Israel from public censure and while raising false innuendos to deflect from the horrors that live visuals brought home, seemed to lose all sense of humanity.
In their enthusiasm for deflecting negative sentiments against Israel, they seem foolishly oblivious of the fact that many Israeli historians and commentators have exposed the myths and propaganda narratives that deny Israel’s responsibility in 1948 and thereafter for producing, in effect, the Palestinian Nakba!
Attempts to silence critics are thus a futile and ludicrously childish exercise lacking any chance to succeed. More especially if the targets selected are global icons such as Tutu whose lives are characterized by freedom struggles against oppression and apartheid.
Sounds made by lobbyists to persuade public opinion often hide fact that Israel’s Jewish statehood is radically committed to the superiority of Israeli Jews over Palestinian Arabs. Glossing over this racism is part of their spin doctoring.
Statements attributed to them almost always emphasize a few phrases about Israeli security, the need to resist terrorism, and the importance of defeating terrorism. The underlying message is that for Israel to survive, it must have and be able to use devastating power over the Arabs!
Edward Said accurately described this phenomenon as an expression of deep insecurity about Israel’s “original sin”.
And as author Ilan Pappe explains, after the Holocaust, it has become almost impossible to conceal large-scale crimes against humanity.
Yet, one such crime has been erased almost totally from the global public memory: the dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948 by Israel.
The challenge thus posed by freedom struggle legends such as Tutu and his peers is that their independent probes, studies and visits will unearth evidence of ethnic cleansing of Palestine as a historical fact. Hence the strategy devised to silence him is not surprising.