Response by Capetonian David Lazarus to an article in South Africa’s national weekend newspaper
Background to the offensive anti-Israel article, to provide context for CILR Bulletin readers.
The South African Jewish community is renowned for its strong Zionist support notwithstanding efforts by the BDS movement to discredit it. However, there is massive prejudice against Israel in our country, fuelled substantially by our governing majority party, the African National Congress (ANC) which, despite having introduced democracy and one of the world's finest constitutions since it buried apartheid in 1994, remains psychologically shackled to its liberationist roots, resulting in deep and unbreakable relationships with its former political and financial supporters, countries which still promote extreme socialist policies, like Cuba and Russia. The ANC leadership is still emotionally and spiritually committed to its former 'freedom-fighter' brothers and sisters, on the African continent and beyond - and this manifests in its unwavering and unconditional backing for 'Palestine' (including its militant offshoots Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad).
We thus have frequent differences of opinion on the Israel-'Palestine' issue, creating an uncomfortable and disquieting relationship between, on the one side our Jewish community and our Jewish leadership bodies like the Board of Deputies and the Zionist Federation, and on the other side the ANC.
Aggravating this situation, we have a large Muslim population which is strongly and aggressively pro-'Palestinian', leading to numerous media clashes, especially when Israel justifiably defends itself against terrorist aggression.
The Media Review Network is one of several Muslim groups whose raison d'etre is to demonise Israel, constantly providing fodder to hungry media outlets only too happy to publish, broadcast or televise their lies, disinformation and distortions of history (without any fact-checking, of course).
Iqbal Jassat is their Executive Director and one of his recent op-eds that was published in a national newspaper was devoted to the report, tabled 27 May, at the UN's Human Rights Council by Michael Lynk, the UN's "Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967". Jassat, who quoted extensively from the report, also used the opportunity to bash the SA Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation, hinting that they may well be liable for prosecution for "financially supporting Israel's 'settlements’ which have been declared war crimes".
Two weeks ago, Iqbal Jassat's article was published in Weekend Argus on Sunday (Settlements are war crimes, says UN special rapporteur, 25 July).
Jassat’s innocently-named Media Review Network in Johannesburg is simply a cover title for Anti-Israel and BDS Propaganda Network, parroting the standard falsehoods of the anti-Israel brigade.
The United Nations lost its international integrity when countries with their own anti-Zionist agendas closed ranks to attack the Jewish nation’s self-realisation in its ancient homeland.
The UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which appoints its ‘special rapporteurs’, is a perfect example of hypocrisy, double standards, bias and prejudice with its obsessive attention to Israel despite numerous countries, themselves members of the UNHRC, being guilty of human rights violations. The Palestinian Authority itself conducts arrests of political opponents as do Jordan and other neighbouring monarchies in the Middle East but nothing is said about it. The UNHRC has even devised a special ‘Item 7’ for its annual sessions, designed specifically to condemn Israel for its so-called “violations of human rights against the ‘Palestinians’ in the ‘occupied territories’”!
The UN special rapporteurs have consistently vilified Israel whilst remaining silent on the travesties of justice committed by the ‘Palestinians’ and their militant Islamic fundamentalist off-shoots Hamas and Islamic Jihad. These organisations are entirely unaccountable to any international bodies and are never criticised for their ongoing murderous efforts to eliminate the citizens and destroy the infrastructure of Israel through ongoing indiscriminate rocket launches and arson attacks. They use international financial aid for the construction of tunnels to kill or kidnap Israelis instead of improving their own populations’ living conditions.
This regular condemnation of Israel revolves around the Jewish state’s alleged “occupation of Palestine”. This narrative was only generated following the 1967 “Six-Day War”, the second attempt by neighbouring Arab countries to destroy Israel and “push the Jews into the sea”. The first war was in 1948 when the Arabs ignored the internationally-legalised State of Israel and Article 80 of the United Nations which permanently enshrined the resolutions of the UN’s predecessor, the League of Nations, including that of the Mandate of Palestine, ratified by 52 countries in 1922, in which Britain was mandated to ensure the establishment of the Jewish state within Palestine. The map and borders of Israel in 1948 were from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, comprising its provinces of Judea and Samaria and its capital Jerusalem. During that war Jordan illegally, offensively and belligerently occupied the area now commonly referred to as “the West Bank” and eastern Jerusalem and rapidly thereafter illegally annexed it.
The world said nothing. The United Nations said nothing. But Israel remembered …. and, when attacked again in 1967, the country pushed Jordan back to its own border on the eastern bank of the Jordan river and recovered its rightful territory. Only then was there a sudden outcry by the so-called ‘Palestinian refugees’ living in the (illegally-occupied) ‘west bank’ – and the narrative of an ‘occupied Palestinian state’ was born, quickly developed and perpetuated by the Arab states, assisted by international Islamic bodies and an only-too-happy-to-assist United Nations.
“Settler implantation”, “settler regime”, “occupying power”, “illegal occupation”, “occupied ‘Palestine’” and “settlements are war crimes” are all convenient and emotion-inducing labels and statements which incorrectly and falsely describe Israel’s justified recovery of its original internationally-approved territory.
The United Nations and all those who subscribe to its many nefarious political shenanigans since it drifted away from its own Charter, like Iqbal Jassat, his Media Review Network, BDS and ‘Africa4Palestine’, have shamefully cast Israel as the perpetrator and ‘Palestine’ as the victim when the opposite is the Truth.