How can the ANC rebuke Maimane for romancing Israel when it’s done far worse? asks Azad Essa
Last week, the Democratic Alliance’s Mmusi Maimane visited Israel. Outrage came quick and fast, and while he deserved every bit of it, we need to be careful of those exploiting the issue for political mileage.
The African National Congress (ANC) has been at the fore in criticizing Maimane’s decision to go to Jerusalem and cozy up with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
Zizi Kodwa, the spokesperson for the ANC said the media junket showed how the DA was “funded and controlled by Apartheid Israel sympathisers”.
Even though this may be true, how can the ANC rebuke Maimane for romancing Israel when it’s done far worse? Unfortunately, like all things ANC, policies and practice are poles apart. Here’s why:
1. The ANC discourages travel to Israel.
What does this even mean? If the ANC is upset with Maimane’s visit to Israel, why do we still have an embassy in Tel Aviv?
Yes, party and government is not the same, but this country’s been led by the ANC since 1994 – what’s stopping them?
Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia have cut off relations. Why haven’t we done the same?
2. Last year Sisa Ngombane, our ambassador to Israel, spoke of Operation Protective Edge or the invasion of Gaza in 2014, as if parroting a memo from the Israeli military. Nevermind the occupation, nevermind the siege, nevermind the refugees, Ngombane went on to blame the victims for the work of their oppressors. He was not disciplined nor recalled. Forget asking the DA to accept Israel as an apartheid state when your own representative is defending Israel.
3. We all know how university students were treated during the #FeesMustFall protests of late 2015 and 2016. They were beaten, shot with rubber bullets and tear gas, traumatised by water cannons. It turns out that those water cannons used by our police were procured from an Israeli company. Yes, our students were sprayed on their faces by the same cannons Israeli army use to fire faeces on protesters in the occupied Palestinian territories.
4. The boycott and sanctions campaign of the 1970s and 1980s played a crucial role in
disabling apartheid South Africa. In 2012, the ANC formally adopted Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel as an official policy of the party, a move widely lauded for its pointed attempt to pressure Israel into amending its ways.
So perhaps they should act against a certain Philip Krawitz, chairman of Cape Union Mart. It turns out that Krawitz was honored in Israel in 2015 for helping raise a fat-load of cash for the Jewish state. Not only that, the city of Cape Town raised the most money per capita for Israel during Operation Protective Edge. More than 2100 people died in Gaza during this operation. This is money leaving our shores to fund killers. Why has no action been taken?
5. On the note of killers, there’s a mountain of evidence that South Africans have fought for the Israeli army.
While it’s illegal to fight for a foreign organisation or country, anywhere up to 150 are believed to have fought for Israel.
According to the Times of Israel, South African-Israelis would face “serious inconvenience” if prosecuted and so those in uniform have been asked not to post photos on social media.
And despite independent investigations being launched against certain individuals, again, no action has been taken.
6. Finally, and this is probably the most telling of the lot. If Nelson Mandela and the ANC would not accept anything but “one-man-one-vote” in their negotiations with the National Party – how can the ANC-led South African government’s official stance push for a two-state solution to the Palestine-Israel problem? Would it have made sense for the ANC to accept the purposefully malnourished Bantustans as one country and allowed white South Africa to swallow up the rest? How is it that in this day and age we are fine with positing “two states for two people”? Are these two equal sides, fighting a symmetrical war?
That is not the talk of liberators; this is the lexicon of the oppressors.
The solution is one-state where all bodies have equal rights and privileges. We all know it.
If the ANC and/or the South African government cared about the Palestinians and justice, it wouldn’t care so much about the DA’s bigotry. It would care about its own.
* Azad Essa is a journalist at Al Jazeera. He is also co-founder of The Daily Vox.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.