On Sunday, the ANC announced that Hamas had come to South Africa. Clearly having anticipated the reaction to the visit, the South African government made the choice to keep this information from its citizens and to bring ashore Khalid Mashal before anyone had the time to object. The clandestine nature of the visit in of itself is enormously telling and one that ought to be noted, along with the very nature of Hamas itself.
To label Hamas a terrorist organisation is not helpful. The “Freedom Fighter” versus “Terrorist” debate has diluted this discussion to the point that the description has become meaningless. The Palestinian lobby further has done wonders in conflating and confusing the issues to the extent that one actually feels slightly sorry for the befuddled ANC government. They might be clumsy, but they are rarely ill intended, and as a result of their naivety have been manipulated into a narrative that is not only incorrect, but is at times more than slightly embarrassing.
In order to then understand whom the South African Government has chosen to entertain and who they have chosen to value, it is worthwhile to take a look at the Charters that define the ANC and define Hamas.
The ANC Freedom Charter was adopted in Kliptown in 1955. It is a magnificent and noble document. It underscores the values of human rights and dignity that have been subsequently embodied in the South African Constitution. It values human life above all and it entrenches the many freedoms that make real freedom possible. Mostly it lauds “Peace and Friendship” which is a fundamental aspiration of the Charter. It is very clearly designed to allow all South Africans to live in peace, harmony and fellowship.
In direct contrast, the Hamas Charter speaks of Jihad and of death to the Jews. “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it,” is the preamble to the document. On the subject of peace, in stark opposition to the ANC’s Freedom Charter it says as follows; “ (Peace) initiatives and so called peace solutions… are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except Jihad.”
In further shocking juxtaposition to ANC Freedom Charter, the Hamas Charter (article 7) states; “The day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out; ‘ O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’ ” In essence, the Hamas Charter does not acknowledge that Israel has the right to exist, it does not acknowledge that Jews should be allowed to live there and in fact is not as much a national movement as it is a Islamic Fundamentalist one. In essence it is no different to Boko Haram, or al Shabab who are currently focused on the destruction of Africa.
The document is not merely historic. Hamas has lauded the current on-going murder of innocent lives in Israel. They have incited and encouraged Palestinians to become martyrs and are key players in the ongoing terror that is gripping the country. They are not looking for peace. They are looking for Jihad and for the death of Jews.
But they have not been kind to the Palestinians either. As brutal rulers in Gaza, their human rights abuses are well documented. They have used millions of Euros in aid money destined for hospitals, schools and infrastructure for tunnels and rockets; they have used children as human shields and brutally execute anyone who is perceived to threaten them. Violations are numerous and their cause is simple. Destruction of Israel and the annihilation of Jews. Little wonder the ANC were somewhat reticent about mentioning that they were to be their honoured guests.
Unsurprisingly, other political parties and the South African media has paid very little attention to the visit. With the national education crises in full swing, with Oscar Pistorius exiting prison and with the usual array of senseless criminal events, local news reporting is comfortably able to focus on alternative stories. The Hamas story is not an easy one for a media that is generally anti Israel to handle. Because no self-respecting journalist can ignore who Hamas really is.
The South African government wants peace in the Middle East. But the assumption that South African history has qualified them to be the broker in this conflict is naive and ill conceived. South Africa and indeed Africa has enough challenges of its own without Hamas as an ally. Without Hamas as a resident. This week’s visit will hurt the local Jewish community. But in the future, sadly it will not only be the Jews who are impacted. The ANC, it seems, has no idea who they are dealing with.