He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD- Proverbs 17:15
The Friday 1 July 2016 edition of The Herald, Zimbabwe’s main daily, highlights some of the things I have said about the character of pro-Palestinian activism; regimes that espouse pro-Palestinian activism are not very good at governing their own countries, are very economical with the truth and intolerant of dissenting opinions . These include a penchant for marrying itself to and inventing an affinity towards activism or advocacy for causes totally unconnected to the Palestinian one. The comparison between Israel and South Africa under apartheid, the declaration that Zionism is Racism, having been made, behoves all opponents of racism to stand against the State of Israel and against Zionism.
In the past week, the Zimbabwean government announced a ban on the import of several consumer goods. This measure is aimed at controlling the outward flow of foreign currency. However, it flies in the face of the economic realities the southern African nation is facing. The government’s ruinous policies, and the turmoil they have engendered have seen what started off as post-colonial Africa’s showcase go into meltdown. Unemployment stands at over 90%, with industrialisation described by experts as having descended to pre-1950s levels. One of the last few lifelines for a majority of Zimbabweans is the cross-border trade- buying goods from South Africa and other neighbouring countries for resale to those Zimbabweans who can still afford them, a condition dubbed the “Vendor Economic Model.”
The recently-announced ban on imports was the final blow on a populace that has received many over the last two decades, when the first signs of widespread disillusionment with Mugabe’s leadership became manifest. South Africans, who have seen a thriving business in the towns near the border, are equally outraged. Violence has broken out at Beitbridge, and on the South African side of the border. A recently-built warehouse belonging to Zimra (the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) was set on fire.
Violent scenes rock Beitbridge…Zimra warehouse burnt…Hoodlums block roads, The Herald‘s headline read. True to its character, the state-owned daily described events as they unfolded as merely the work of criminal elements and avoided connecting them to the spate of violent demonstrations that have occurred all over the country.
In the same edition was a story with the headline: Millions rally for Palestine. Except for the heading, it was a copy and paste job on an article which appeared on the Press TV page. What is striking about the online edition of The Herald is that there are no comments on the article from members of the public. My comments in response to the article were deleted by the moderator. Comments to the reports about the violent protests in Beitbridge, even when they sharply criticise the government, are being allowed. It is almost as if criticism of Palestine is simply not permitted on the pages of The Herald.
As with events in Beitbridge, The Herald proves to be out of touch with public sentiment. Most Zimbabweans, being Christian or having a Christian background, are pro-Israel. They regard Israel (within the borders prescribed by the Bible) as the homeland of the Jewish people. Not so much these days, due to financial constraints, but churches have often organised tours to Israel. Zimbabwean Christians have been seen praying at the Kotel.
Even if we focus on the Muslim community, who make up just 1% of the population, The Herald‘s over-reliance on Iranian sources alienates it from the predominantly Sunni locals.
The dearth of pro-Israeli voices in Zimbabwe is worrying in a country where a silent majority are pro-Israel, yet there emerges an apparently Iranian-sponsored anti-Israel media lobby. The international Zionist movement should urgently look at the challenges this situation poses for not just Zimbabwe, but the region.