At a recent event celebrating the legacy of Nelson Mandela, held at the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Academic College, with an audience of mainly elderly ex-South Africans, it was strange to sit in front of a couple of ladies who were gently singing the words of the South African anthem.
It occurred to me that, since making Aliyah from Manchester, I have never felt the urge to break into “God Save the Queen.” That was in my past. Good luck to it. Most attending this special event left the nation of their birth for a new life in Israel but carried it with them to Israel. They demonstrated they are still rooted to their past. The event was an attempt to make Mandela’s legacy relevant to Israel. Those singing, or humming, their old anthem may not have known the contents of a recent statement issued by Mandela’s ANC party which has caused outrage in the South African Jewish community.
I was given a copy as I entered the auditorium by someone who, like me, is active on behalf of Israel. The statement is truly shocking!
It was written by Jessie Duarte, the deputy Secretary-General on the ANC. In it, she wrote “The state of Israel has turned the occupied territories of Palestine into permanent death camps.” She writes that they are “reminded of the atrocities of Nazi Germany.” She asks the people of Israel has the term “lest we forget” lost its meaning.
The statement condemns what she, on behalf of the ANC, calls “the barbaric attacks on the defenseless Palestinian people of Gaza.”
I was reading this statement on a day when 150 Palestinian rockets had been fired at civilian areas throughout Israel. Israelis suffered daily rocket attacks before responding with surgical strikes against a massive bank of terror targets. Six million Israelis (does that number ring a bell, Mrs. Duarte?) are within range of the Palestinian rockets fired by “the defenseless people of Gaza”. Not one word about this appeared in the iniquitous ANC statement. At an event commemorating Mandela’s legacy, how deeply has his failing and corrupt party fallen?
One of the panelists, Nic Wolpe, is a proud ANC member. He tried to amuse the audience by telling of a recent experience at Yad Vashem where he was accused of being an anti-Semite. I don’t know what he said to draw such a response but he jokingly questioned if, as a Jew, he could be called an anti-Semite. He assumed it was possible. One can only imagine what offensive words he said that in the global center of Holocaust memorial located in the ancient capital of the Jewish people he was called an anti-Semite. Such is the abusive and insensitive nature of ANC, as witnessed by Wolpe’s words and Duarte’s official document.
Wolpe may wallow in the glory of Mandela but, as a South African Jew and a member of the ANC, if he puts his hand on his heart and reads the awful words of his party against Israel, words that are deeply offensive for any Jew, he must hang his head in shame. If he doesn’t, he deserves the epithet of being called a Jewish anti-Semite.
Wolpe discussed the period when Nelson Mandela’s moved the ANC into the armed struggle stage. Mandela is not celebrated for this dark period of South African history but for the pragmatic and charismatic leader and masterful politician he later became. But for those in awe of him, the armed struggle as an essential element of the black march to freedom. As such, the ANC and many others find equivalence in Hamas and Palestinian violence. For them, it is part of the process. But when Mandela and the ANC turned to "armed resistance" in 1961, they did so on the basis there must be no killings of white civilians. The Palestinians, on the other hand, deliberately target Jewish civilians for terrorist murder including suicide bombings and rocket attacks. This point is lost on the ANC. They airbrush out Palestinian terror crimes and falsify Israel’s response with passionate but bogus claims that convert Palestinian terrorists into “the defenseless Palestinian people of Gaza.”
Wolpe is a member of a party that endorsed the infamous “Israel Apartheid Week” in 2014. Even fellow panelist, Benjamin Pogrund, a close friend and advisor to Nelson Mandela, accused anyone supporting IAW as promoting “nothing more than slander designed to harm Israel.” (The Jewish Press, March 6, 2013)
How can Wolpe remain a member of a party that has harming Israel as a cornerstone of its policies? It is a party that endorses the BDS campaign against Israel. How much worse can it get? Well, it is a party that lies without shame. It is the party that perpetrated the lie that Israel was the last major country that aided the Apartheid regime in South Africa, when they know full well that the wheels of the White regime’s industry and military turned thanks to the $2 billion fuel supplies from the oil rich Arab nations, mainly Saudi Arabia, and Israel’s business with South Africa was miniscule in comparison. Yet, ANC supports the Arabs and boycotts Israel. How perverse can they be?
They need reminding that Mandela said in October 1999 that “I cannot conceive of Israel withdrawing if Arab states do not recognize Israel within secure borders.” This has not happened, not under Arafat or rejectionist Abbas, and certainly not under Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Let’s be honest; it won’t happen for two profound reasons explained by Palestinian human rights activist, Bassan Eid, a panelist at the Mandela Legacy event.
He admitted that the Palestinians had failed to produce a Mandela. Certainly not Abbas who speaks the same twisted language as Duarte by referring to the Holocaust when Israel was a forced to respond to incessant Palestinian rocket attacks against its citizens. How easily they drop these Jewish symbols to demonise the Jewish state. We are reminded that Abbas has a master’s degree in Holocaust denial.
One of the biggest failings of Arafat, Abbas, and the ANC, is that they failed to apply unity and reconciliation when it comes to Israel. Unity and reconciliation were two pillars of Mandela’s wisdom.
Some perceive Shimon Peres as the Israeli Nelson Mandela. Even if this were so, the Palestinians have failed to produce a De Klerk. Without De Klerk even Mandela’s road to peace would have failed.
Panelist, Benjamin Pogrund, a close friend and advisor to Mandela, assumes that he has to support the Palestinian cause because it’s good for Israel, and it’s good for his Jewish soul. He is reliving the echoes of his past and imposing it on the Palestinian conflict and Israel even as both Fatah and Hamas reject the notion of a Jewish state. His view is shared by many. They do nothing to hone Hamas into a pragmatic party seeking true democracy, a la Mandela. They do nothing about finding a Mandela figure among the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders. Mission impossible, I suspect. No matter. The cause is just as it reflects the old ANC struggle for freedom and liberty. Worthy causes, to be sure. As such, they are in denial as to the real face and aim of the Islamic terror arm of Palestinian society.
Proof of this could be seen in the Palestinian rocket fire. Does it not occur to them that the Palestinians are fighting Israel not for a land over there, but for the land here? Did they notice the violent ANC party of the Palestinians failed to target one West Bank settlement? Instead, they used all their terror assets to try and destroy central and southern Israel. Doesn’t it occur to them that this is the ultimate aim of both Fatah and Hamas, and everything else is a distraction aimed at weakening Israel in advance of the final fatal blow?
No matter, they say. Just give them victory, a la ANC, and they will share Mandela’s legacy. Such is the political absurdity that is driving the ANC-type dreamers, all blinded by Mandela’s unique example.
If the ANC supports the notion of a nation that respects all its citizens then Israel is their shining example of the Rainbow Nation. A “Judenrein” Palestinian state would be an apartheid state. It would be a state where even the Christians flee, Archbishop Tutu, as they have done from a Bethlehem under Palestinian control. Or if you live in Islamic Hamastan, where minorities quake in fear, if you are gay in Gaza you’d better find safety in Tel Aviv.
All this they fail to see. They are so blinded by Mandela that the Palestinian cause, no matter how evil, is a blessed cause, and it is Israel that is preventing it from coming into fruition. So let’s demand that Israel get out of the way, or curse it forever! It is this that is at the deep dark heart of the ANC statement. It is a dangerous concept for which they will take none of the deadly consequences when it goes wrong. They share the struggle without taking responsibility for a deadly outcome. Theirs was successful. They naively assume that every struggle will end the same way. Nelson Mandela was a unique figure at a unique moment in history. You can’t cut and paste Mandela on to the Palestinian conflict. Finding similarities is like seeing distant water in an arid desert. It is a mirage devoutly to be wished, but it will not keep you alive because it is a false image.
Noted South African writer, Nadine Gordimer told HardTalk’s Stephen Sacher in April 2011 that “the original values of ANC are being betrayed.” Can there be any doubt about the truth of this following the latest foul ANC statement?
The problem of the ANC without Nelson Mandela is that is has sunk to become the failing, violent, divisive, corrupt party it is. It was so under Winnie Mandela. It is so today. Remove Nelson Mandela from the ANC and you have Fatah, and even worse, Hamas.
Barry Shaw is the Special Consultant to the Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College. He is the founder of the Netanya Terror Victims Organization, and also the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’ www.israelnarrative.com