Kenneth Meshoe, South African Member of Parliament from 1994 to 2013, President of the African Christian Democratic Party since 1994, Reverend of the 3000 strong Hope and Glory Tabernacle, and a former teacher recently spoke to several a large groups in Toronto about the “myth of apartheid.” He has been touring across North America fighting the ravages of BDS.
Born on Pretoria in 1954, a black man experiencing apartheid in South Africa with his parents and his 4 brothers, the Reverend stated that labeling Israel an apartheid country “trivializes the word apartheid, minimizing and belittling the magnitude of the racism and suffering endured by South Africans of color.”
These are dark times for Israel and the Jewish people. It seems we are under attack from all sides. But we must never forget that we have friends all over the world. Friends prepared to put their lives in danger to speak the truth about Israel and the Jewish people. I recently learned that Rev. Meshoe and his family have been threatened for speaking up on behalf of Israel and denying that myth of apartheid.
Free speech seems not to be so free when speaking on behalf of Israel, a democracy in a sea of theocratic autocracies.
The Reverend made us laugh when he said that one of the reasons Jews are not liked by some is that God gave the Jews brains which they don’t have. He told us proudly “Believe this black man when he says ‘You are special.’”
Reverend Meshoe was brought to Canada by Stand With Us Canada, a Jewish advocacy organization on university campuses, and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, Canada, to speak against the lies told by those who want to see the end of Israel. Meshoe speaks with passion about Israel. Israel, he says, is a miracle. It’s a nation that’s survived and thrived despite the hatred of others around her.
He likes to quote Genesis 12:2. “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” because he believes with his whole mind, heart and soul that those who turn against Israel suffer while those that support her do well. He used Zambia as an example. Her economy was thriving while engaged with Israel and dropped like a stone when Zambia broke off relations in 1973. Meshoe believes the turning point for Africa was 1973 when she turned away from Israel toward Egypt. Genesis 12:2.
I had asked about Desmond Tutu and churches that support BDS. He said there are two types of Christians. Those who believe in the Bible and the obligation to support Israel and the Jewish people, and those like Tutu and the United Church of Canada who don’t follow Scripture.
He said Christians must not be ashamed to speak up against accusations of apartheid. He wants us to know that the nay-sayers are loud and give the impression that they are bigger than they are. Isn’t that so true. How many times have we heard about the silent majority in Canada and the US? He assured us that most South Africans love Israel but are intimidated into silence.
Philosopher and playwright Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that anti-Semites devaluate words. Absurd remarks intimidate and disconcert adversaries, which is quicker and easier than persuading by argument. Sartre noted the more absurd the remark, the wilder the fib, the bigger the advantage gained.
Meshoe speaks to that sentiment. “The very idea that Israel is an apartheid state cheapens the word apartheid – it is an insult to every South African who endured the inhumanity and pain of it.”
When Meshoe spoke there was energy in the room. He is an impressive man. Fearless. He will not tolerate anti-semitism. He will not let others abuse the meaning of apartheid for their own. Regarding the Palestinian accusations of Israeli as an apartheid state, Meshoe said in 2011:
“I think it’s just a strategy that the Palestinians are using to get sympathy. Most people in the world were sympathetic to black people in South Africa because of apartheid. The Palestinians saw the sympathy at that time because of apartheid. Now they think that if they use the same word apartheid, that the sympathy that the people had on blacks in South Africa will be upon them also as Palestinians.”
Much of his talk is spent deconstructing the comparison of South Africa and Israel as apartheid nations. Not difficult when one knows the facts. And that’s the problem that Meshoe is addressing. The lack of facts. He told us that South Africans that go to Israel are shocked. So prepared are they for segregation that they can’t get over men and women, of all races, colours, religions being together on the beach, in restaurants, hotels, buses, lavatories.
Unheard of in apartheid South Africa.
He told us a story of a pastor friend on tour with others in Israel who required hospitalization. He, a black man, was on a gurney between a Jewish man and a Muslim receiving the same care from medical staff that was also mixed.
Unheard of in apartheid South Africa.
Meshoe acknowledges there are those in the SA parliament who are against Israel, who believe that Israel is guilty of apartheid, but their motions have been defeated by people like Meshoe. He is instilling in those to whom he speaks the courage to speak with a loud voice, too.
Reverend Meshoe is dedicating himself to spreading the word about Israel through his new organization, DEISI, established in response to the lies of Boycott Divest and Sanction. Defend, Embrace Invest Support Israel. The purpose is to mobilize high school and university students from South Africa to go to Israel because those who visit Israel know the label apartheid is a lie. He envisions them as ambassadors to university campuses around the world attacking the lies of Israeli apartheid. He also hopes to bring the energy of innovation from Israel to South Africa and the rest of Africa.
Here are two things he wants to see before he dies: an Israeli Prime Minister welcomed in South Africa and Israel’s technology freely found in South Africa, in all of Africa, to lift the continent out of poverty.
I hear in his words a man who cares deeply for his people; a man who wants the citizens in Africa to be healthy and prosperous, have access to clean water and good crops, to media that will open the world to them; to peace from tribal warfare. He looked around and saw Israel, a small democracy surrounded by failed autocracies that offered to provide that help and refused to accept the political machinations that would turn away from that outstretched hand.
Reverend Meshoe is a man of God, deeply connected to Scripture, who carries within a strong belief that God raised the Jews up to bless the nations. He says with certainty when the relationship between Israel and Africa is repaired, when the “myth of apartheid” is destroyed, Africa will be blessed and will thrive. Genesis 12:2