An open letter to Jessie Duarte, Deputy Secretary General of the ANC

Dear Ms. Jessie Duarte July 11, 2014

I am taking the trouble to write to you at length about the above statement in the belief that your motivation stems from a sincere though misinformed concern for what you mistakenly believe to be the wronged party in the Arab-Israeli conflict and also because you and I have something in common. You have been described as an anti-apartheid activist while I too was involved in actively opposing apartheid though I started about ten years before you were born in 1953.

As a WW2 ex-serviceman I became an active member of the radical Springbok Legion. With its nearly 60,000 members including a large number of Jews, the legion was probably the first mass movement of whites promoting the liberation of Blacks. At times, during our protest demonstrations we suffered blows not only from violent supporters of the apartheid government but also from the riot police. While studying at Wits University I joined the left-wing subsequently banned Federation of Progressive Students (FOPS) founded by Ruth First (wife of Joe Slovo) and participated in student demonstrations which were regularly broken up by the police. I also risked arrest by entering Soweto to teach reading, writing and arithmetic to underprivileged Black adults who showed an amazing enthusiasm. Women friends were active in the Black Sash movement. I mention this background to indicate the extent to which I understand where you are coming from

I notice that you are based in Chief Albert Luthuli House and my first thoughts were that this great man who I admired tremendously would be horrified by the extreme unbalanced language in the statement which you signed in the name of the ANC, an organization which I recall, comprised people who took a balanced view in seeking justice for all, including their former oppressors. [For the convenience of readers the ANC statement is reproduced below]

The distorted picture you paint of Israel is unworthy of the ANC and the legacy of the revered late President Mandela who always maintained a balanced attitude. With regard to the Palestinians he said.

“we recognize the legitimacy of Palestinian nationalism just as we recognize the legitimacy of Zionism as a Jewish nationalism. We insist on the right of the state of Israel to exist within secure borders but with equal vigor support the Palestinian right to national self-determination”.

It is evident however, that in their unswerving support of the PLO and Hamas, few members including leaders of the ANC are aware of the degree to which the fundamental philosophy and political outlook of the ANC is incompatible with those of the PLO and Hamas.

While the ANC’s empathy with the Palestinians is a natural and understandable result of having been comrades in arms, the commonality ends there. Indeed the Palestinian people deserve a better life, but they have been unfortunate in lacking leadership of the caliber of Nelson Mandela. Who can doubt that, had Yasser Arafat possessed some of Mandela’s qualities, he and Ehud Barak would have achieved a mutually satisfactory peace agreement in 2000?

Unfortunately, the Islamic based policies of the PLO and Hamas are vastly different from the lofty aims of the ANC’s Freedom Charter which bears no similarity whatsoever, to the hate-filled PLO and Hamas covenants. In fact the ANC charter is, in many respects, not dissimilar from the Israel Declaration of Independence.

It is the hate and incitement taught in Palestinian schools and mosques as well as on official TV that has prevented an accommodation between Israel and the Palestinians. While the ANC Charter states“South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation – not war” article 9 of the PLO Charter declares bluntly that the armed struggle is not merely tactical, it is the overall strategy. The Hamas charter makes it even clearer that there is absolutely no room for peaceful negotiation. Article 13 unambiguously states

“Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors”.

The imaginative irrationality of the Hamas concept, so different from the sober tone of the ANC Charter, is illustrated by obsessive phobia about freemasons, rotary clubs, Lions and similar organizations, promising that the day Islam is in control, these organizations, will be obliterated. These groups are accused of everything from control of the world media, stirring the French Revolution, the Communist revolution, World War I and even of forming the League of Nations. They are alleged to have been behind World War II, and instigating replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council. Ms. Duarte, I hope you will confirm, that this type of irrational hate, had, and still has, no place in ANC thinking and that the ANC condemns the prevailing incitement to violence in Palestinian areas. emanating for years

And I hope too, that the ANC will condemn the statement by Hamas chief Khaled Meshal congratulating the kidnappers of the three Israeli schoolboys who were subsequently murdered. By comparison, the entire Israeli community including the president, the PM as well as right wing cabinet ministers expressed horror and shame when Jewish extremists murdered a Palestinian youth.

Unless withdrawn, the above biased ANC statement condemning Israel’s defensive actions while completely ignoring the hundreds of rockets deliberately targeted by Hamas on civilian populations will indelibly stain the honorable history of the ANC.

The ANC Charter is incompatible with BDS
If you support the BDS movement because you believe it advocates a two state solution, don’t be deceived. The BDS leaders explicitly oppose it. They propose a Palestine state next to a Palestine state.

It will come as a surprise to many that the objective of BDS is not a peaceful two state resolution, but in common with Hamas, its aim is “euthanasia” for Israel as expressed by BDS co-founder and leader Omar Barghouti in an article published on Electronic Intifada. And if you believe the objective of BDS is to end the occupation, think again. When asked whether BDS would end if the “occupation” was brought to an end, Mr. Barghouti has replied with an emphatic NO!

The above statements are borne out in this video clip in which Mr. Barghouti explains some of his true views to selected audiences.

Many will also be surprised by the attitude of BDS leaders to the Palestine Authority. In another article Mr. Barghouti wrote:
“In the West Bank you have a largely quisling [traitor] government” and “The PA government there has illegally appropriated the PLO’s authority to conduct Palestinian diplomacy and set foreign policy..”

One must wonder whether the South African government is aware of the extent to which the BDS attitude to President Abbas and the Palestine Authority conflicts fundamentally with South Africa’s official policy. This became evident during a BDS conference at Bethlehem University on August 6, 2013 where BDS speakers severely criticized the PA, the PLO, Yasser Abed Rabbo and even PA President Abbas. When PA minister of national economy Jawad Naji tried to defend the PA, he was actually forced to flee with his entourage to angry shouts of “get the minister out” and “collaborator!”

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The ANC statement to which the above article refers

The situation in Gaza Strip

10 July 2014
The African National Congress (ANC),condemns in the strongest terms, the barbaric attacks on the defenceless Palestinian people of Gaza. Israeli attacks on the besieged Gaza strip have resulted in the deaths of over 27 Palestinians, at least 6 of them children. The Israeli attacks have further resulted in injuring over 200 Palestinians and traumatising thousands of others.
As we move towards the month of August and are reminded of he atrocities of Nazi Germany, surely we must ask the people of Israel has the term “lest we forget” lost it meaning.
The state of Israel has turned the occupied territories of Palestine into permanent death camps. Of course the killing of any child irrespective of race color or creed must be condemned and the death of two Israeli young people is surely as senseless as any other death. But for the State of Israel, the notion of an eye for an eye has become perpetual massacre with merciless revenge which has lasted for more than 60 years. It is time to stop the killing now.
The recent attacks must cease as well as the ongoing and illegal Israeli occupation and collective Israeli punishment of the Palestinians. Gaza is the world`s largest open air prison with over
1,5 million Palestinians caged in and cut off from the rest of the world. The Gaza Strip is the world`s most densely populated piece of land on this earth making the Israeli bombing of the Palestinian Gaza Strip all the more horrendous. The collective punishment and illegal siege of the Palestinian people of Gaza must immediately end.
In line with our 2012 policy resolutions, that called on “all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel”, branches and structures of the ANC across the country will be joining the Palestine solidarity and boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in organizing protests and pickets calling for the immediate end of Israeli violence against the Palestinian people. We call on all South Africans, Black, White, Jewish, Muslim, Christian and all others to join us in expressing our solidarity. Solidarity will brings us together as different South Africans just as how the international anti-apartheid movement brought people together.
The Israeli regime must realise that its acts of violence like these attacks on Gaza will only lead to its international isolation. After its 2009 attacks on Gaza which resulted in over 1400 Palestinians being killed, more than 400 of them children, the BDS and international isolation of Israel increased exponentially. Apartheid South Africa`s wanton killing of our people during the 1980s lead to its isolation, it would seem that Israel is taking a similar path of isolation by embarking on these attacks.
The ANC reiterates its 2012 policy position that as an organisation we are unequivocal in our support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in our view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel.
Issues by:
Jessie Duarte
Deputy Secretary General
African National Congress