It’s not always easy being a South African. And it’s especially difficult when it is South Africa who introduces a resolution at the 54-Nation Economic and Social Council meeting in Geneva condemning Israel alone for violating economic and social rights.
Not Syria. Not Iran. Not Saudi or Sudan. And not her neighbour Zimbabwe. Agenda item 16 on July 22nd as introduced by South Africa condemned Israel and “Commended the efforts of the Palestinian Government.” The resolution contains the same well worn, well used and well abused accusations blaming Israel for everything from being fully responsible for the horrible state of Gaza to littering in the Golan (true story).
The gob-smacking, breath taking, head shaking wonder is that it was Syria who followed South Africa to the podium in order to lambaste Israel for its poor behaviour. One would assume that given Syria’s sterling record of gassing, shooting, bombing and just plain ole murdering in excess of 300,000 of their own citizens, their representatives would perhaps act slightly coy. Maybe sit at the back of the room where no one can see or call on them? Possibly look down and pretend to answer a Whatssapp if the need arises? At the very least, they should have the dignity to just keep quiet.
But in the circus that is the UN, it is the clowns who are taken seriously.
Every child knows that before pointing fingers at someone else, he should jktheck that his hands are nice and clean. International relations is no different. It follows that when the South African representatives lead the charge and accused Israel of a smorgasbord of violations they needed to be firstly confident that they did so with a sparkling record and that secondly they have pointed their fingers justly, fairly and consistently at all other times, whenever the opportunity arose.
And in the case of South Africa, neither is true. South Africa neither has a record of which she can be proud and nor has she held her neighbors to the same standard to which she holds Israel.
Xenophobic violence and racism has been a defining trait of South Africa’s year. Corruption and abuse of power another. Inefficiency and cronyism can be added to the list. And yet, with no shame at all, her representatives point fingers at a democratic country who protects the dignity of its citizens, to her detriment.
South Africa shares a border with Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe, dictator and despot dispensed with any form of democracy (but in façade) decades ago. His people, abused, disenfranchised, starving and powerless, have pleaded with South Africa, its powerful neighbor, to intervene and to assist. Their request was denied, with the South African Government making it plain that they don’t interfere with the domestic affairs of another country. And instead pays homage to their ruler.
And this is the country that stands up and casts the first stone.
It’s actually a bit embarrassing.