People in Glass Houses….South Africa and Israel

September 20, 2012 2:05 pm 3 comments

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane at the United Nations Office at Geneva, Switzerland, on February 28, 2011. Photo: U.S. Mission Geneva.

It has often been said that people in glass houses should not throw stones. South African government officials disagree. They prefer to sit on their proverbial glass balconies flinging stones at those they deem guilty of moral turpitude.  Recent changes in South African foreign policy, especially the attitude towards Israel, are reflective of this change. South Africa it seems, has identified a target for its international political posturing  – Israel.

The two countries have always endured a complicated relationship but in the four years that have followed Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, there has been a marked deterioration in relations, culminating these last few months in an initiative by the Department of Trade and Industry to re-label goods produced in the West Bank as “goods from the occupied Palestinian territories” and a recommendation from the Deputy Minister of International Relations, Ebrahim Ebrahim, that South Africans should not visit Israel for reasons other than “peace” as the country is guilty of “practices of Apartheid”.

What raises the ire of the South African Jewish community as well as the Israeli government is not just the singling out of the Jewish state at the expense of the real human rights violators such as Syria or Iran, but that South Africa has managed to achieve what the UN and other negotiating powers could not. Define borders. South Africa has stated that Israel exists within the 1948 or Auschwitz borders. The rest is occupied territory. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the world, including the Palestinian Authority who recognise the 1967 borders as a point of departure for final settlement negotiations. The South African Department of International Relations, along with the changing of its name from Foreign Ministry, must have undergone a lobotomy as well as a re-branding initiative!

Re-labelling issues and potential travel bans are just the latest in a litany of anti-Israel activity from South Africa. Who knows, maybe the Deputy Foreign Minister is afraid someone might visit Israel and actually see that the country does not practice Apartheid and is really rather interesting. Heaven forbid! And it is not the first time the office of the Department of International Relations has exhibited such behaviour. Anyone remember the brouhaha over comments made by Fatima Hajaig who also held the portfolio of Deputy Foreign Minister? Ms Hajaig is under the impression that “The control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money,” she said. “If the Jewish money controls their country, then you cannot expect anything else.” A page right out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. South Africa was also one of the only countries to recall its Ambassador following Israel’s reaction to the Mavi Marmara Flotilla incident.

Where did this all begin and why from a country like South Africa who if they played their cards right, could help negotiate a solution between Israelis and Palestinians? By displaying such blatant bias, South Africa, have excluded themselves as any kind of peace broker.

Some say it started in 2001 at the UN Conference against Racism that was held at the seaside city of Durban. It was greatly symbolic that a conference of this kind was held in the country that successfully defeated the heinous Apartheid regime. Instead, the conference deteriorated into an Israel-bashing orgy and the Boycott Divestment Movement, designed to isolate and assault Israel’s legitimacy was launched. Through thousands of NGO’s, Durban 1 gave rise to some of the most vitriolic and venomous activists. Sadly, the South African Foreign Ministry at the time declared it “the jewel in the crown for South Africa.”

Following this, South Africa played host to the farcical Russell Tribunal where Israel was put on trial for crimes against Apartheid. Trial? More like kangaroo court! It would all seem so comical if it weren’t for the fact that South Africa really does matter. This is the country where Apartheid was born and defeated. If Israel is condemned as an Apartheid State by South Africa than surely it must be so. Facts and reality notwithstanding. Many countries view South Africa as the barometer by which racism is measured.

But isn’t the singling out of one State for approbation at the expense of true human rights transgressors not racism? Aren’t the recommendations of travel restrictions indicative of a darker past? People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Rolene Marks is a member of the Media Team Israel, a voluntary body under the auspices of the South African Zionist Federation that counters bias against Israel in the media. She has written numerous published opinion-editorials, addressed groups and has been featured on radio and television countering bias against Israel.

3 Comments

  • There is a high likelihood there will be a revolution in SA in the future, little has changed and the longer time passes, the less relevant the ANC and its standing in the community becomes. Basically it has become a carpetbaggers paradise. You look at apartheid and post apartheid there is no reason that black miners should not earn the same salaries as their counterparts in other western style democracies. But the social mobility is distributed through the class structure to 1 to 2 percent of the population. What allows it is the ANC standing in bring down the apartheid regime, among the majority but that is fading. So there is going to be a huge split in the social stratification.

  • Pre Holocaust, the anti Semites wanted Jews out of Europe and far away. “Go to Palestine!” was the exasperated call, whenever Jews became successful, and made a good life, based on hard work. Now that the Jews are in their own (U N created and sanctioned) HomeLand – israel – the world is shlouting out its jealous hatred “Get out of Israel” to the Jews making a good life, based on their own hard work.
    Minister Rob is living up to his name.. he wishes to rob Israel of her proud label “I DID IT” and hand over that recognition to the Palestinians. This he will do with his ridiculous labeling effort. *Insert LOUD yawn here* We know anti Semitism well, Mr. Minister.. we are well aware of your cloaked intentions. ISRAEL is REAL..get over it.
    Good one Rolene.. brilliant!

  • I live in South Africa am a citizen of this country, But I do not agree with the governments against Israel.
    Israel is the land that was given to the Hebrews by Our Father of Creation, Ha Shem.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.