It is early morning before sunrise at Betesda Lodge near Sossusvlei, Namibia, a surreal oasis in the desert. I am sitting on the veranda overlooking the beautiful landscape. The rolling fields and surrounding mountains are beyond any human description. While the sun rises and elegantly displays its rays beyond the mountain top, my mind wanders away to the Middle East and the people of Israel. A nation hated by surrounding countries and beyond. As the sun spews rays of heat on the dry desert land, I wrestle with the question: What is the source of these hateful feelings?
At first I thought of the surrounding Arab countries and the Iranian theocracy. I said to myself, I know the answer, but I want to make sure and I delve deeper into my memory bank of Middle East knowledge gathered through many years. Yes, I definitely understand the motive of the radical Islamic view. It is embedded in their religious beliefs. To quote: “Kill the Jews; [and when] the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, [the rocks and trees] will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!” (Reported by Imam Ahmad; it is a Sahih Hadith).
But what is the motive of some Western countries and Theologians. Is it a lack of knowledge, ignorance or a feeling of religious and dogmatic superiority? A lack of knowledge and ignorance on the side of ordinary citizens is understandable, but poor foreign policy and international relations on the side of governments is questionable.
What is difficult to understand however, is the disgraceful position some theologians are taking, sometimes to the point of downright anti-Semitism and close to hateful attitudes. Such attitudes on the side of theologians are biblically irreconcilable. In contrast with the Quran, the Bible demands us to even love your enemy.
The media in South Africa is partly to blame for poor or inadequate reporting on the Middle East. Reports on Israel in particular are often biased in nature. Many governments take an imbalanced position and lean towards the Palestinian narrative without a proper understanding of history of both sides of the conflict.
Churchill once said, “In the time that it takes a lie to get halfway around the world, the truth is still getting its pants on”. How true that is in today’s world of bias and disinformation. It is the same bias and disinformation that lead to so much tragedy in the history of humanity.
Let’s assume Israel has a poor human rights record. Why then is it that Israel is the only country been criticised for this alleged sin? What is the reason that countries with proven abysmal human rights records are treated differently and in some instances not even mentioned? These anomalies create a bias situation toward a country which creates an unfair and unjust image of a pariah state. It is a situation anti-Israel lobbyists endeavour to do with limited success.
While feeling the heat of the early morning sun penetrating the Namibian soil, I realised how important it has become for good and honest people to balance the false with the truth. The truth will only survive if actively pursued and sometimes the bias verbal attacks will feel like the heat of the cruel Namibian sun, but how liberating to imitate the tenets of peace, integrity and authenticity.
I prefer to pursue these tenets.