An open letter to Jessie Duarte

Déjà vu. We’ve been there before. Hamas fires rockets incessantly into Israel aimed at Israeli civilians. Eventually Israel responds by firing missiles into Gaza aimed at destroying the terrorist infrastructure. We’ve been there. We’ve seen it all. We’ve read it all. Even the ANC’s response was predictable.

But was it? Have we been there before? I think not. For not since the 2001 Durban Conference against Racism has such anti-Israel vitriol been spewed forth in this country. And this by a government spokesperson.

Ms Duarte, you term Israel’s defensive actions ‘barbaric attacks on the defenseless people of Gaza.’ Since when are a defenseless people able to fire continuous rockets? And if they are defenseless, they are such because they are forced to be human shields for murderers who care as little for the lives of their own people as for those of the Israelis.
The attacks taking place in Gaza are probably some of the least barbaric ever to be undertaken by a country in a time of war. These attacks are not only exceedingly precise but they in no way target the citizens of Gaza. Israel has moved mountains to limit civilian casualties. Residents in buildings from where rocket attacks originate and from where Hamas terrorists are undertaking their operations are being warned via text messages and flares that their buildings are going to be attacked, providing them with an opportunity to leave. Given Israel’s martial capacity, the fact that so few people have been killed or injured by her in this conflict, is testament to the care she takes, and this in no way undermines the tragedy of each and every civilian death. Rather it is Hamas, who is firing literally hundreds of rockets indiscriminately into Israel, whose actions are barbaric. Worse, by firing their rockets from within civilian areas they are hiding behind innocent people. They are cowards whose actions are responsible for every Palestinian death.

You are quick, Ms Duarte, to point out how Israel’s actions are traumatizing for thousands of people living in Gaza, without balancing this trauma with that being felt by millions of Israelis who are being subjected to a constant barrage of rocket fire from Gaza. You neglect too, to point out that Israel’s actions only took place in response to that rocket fire.

You then have the audacity to draw a vile comparison between Israel’s actions, and those of Nazi Germany. Six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis for the crime of being Jewish. I mourn every civilian life lost in this conflict but there is no similarity between Nazi Germany and Gaza. In making this despicable comparison you are undertaking the most disgusting moral blackmail imaginable. You have the temerity to question whether ‘lest we forget’ has lost its meaning. Let me assure you, Ms Duarte, that it is precisely because it has not lost its meaning that Israel sends food and other supplies into Gaza in spite of the barrage of rockets. It is because ‘lest we forget’ has not lost its meaning that Israel treated the granddaughter of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh at an Israeli hospital. But more importantly it is because of ‘lest we forget’ that Israel will never allow the Jewish people to be slaughtered again.

You imply erroneously that Israel’s actions are in retribution and revenge for the kidnapping and murder of three young Israeli boys by Hamas– yes three, not two, as you mistakenly write, (but then what is one Jewish life more or less to you)? In doing so you completely ignore (either purposely, or because you are completely ignorant of the actual situation) to mention the rocket fire from Gaza that actually started this action.

Israel withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005. In the 9 years since that withdrawal, rather than working to uplift their people, Hamas, the elected government, in its attempt to destroy the Jewish state, has committed the area to a perpetual war with Israel. If Gaza is a prison, then Hamas are its jailers. There is no collective punishment on Israel’s part and her actions in protecting her citizens are not illegal. To imply this is to obfuscate facts and is the height of malevolence.

For over two thousand years the Jews have had virtual ‘rockets’ fired at them for being Jewish. Today, because it is politically incorrect to be anti-Semitic, the Jewish state has become the scapegoat for this anti-Jewish, anti-Semitism. Ms Duarte, your pernicious anti-Israel diatribe laced with inaccuracies and downright lies is nothing short of anti-Semitism. To pretend otherwise is completely disingenuous. You and your ANC have truly nailed your colours to the mast. All right-thinking South Africans should see you for what you are.

Monessa Shapiro