Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    At Forbes Summit in Israel, Entrepreneurship Is a ‘Common Language’

    JNS.org – Nine months ago, Seth Cohen, director of network initiatives for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Randall Lane, editor of Forbes Magazine, were schmoozing about the “vibrancy of Tel Aviv and soul of Jerusalem,” as Lane put it. They dreamed about how they could bring young and innovative millennials to the so-called “start-up nation.” From April 3-7, Forbes turned that dream into a reality. Israel played host to the first-ever Forbes Under 30 EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) […]

    Read more →