Corroboration of facts

September 22, 2015

The power of corroboration is often ignored or underestimated. Webster’s dictionary defines corroborate as: “To make more certain; confirm. This is often ignored when reporting the Israel-Palestinian issue.

The world is drawn into an abyss by forces deliberately spreading false information which causes disharmony between people and ultimately, violent actions. However, it is not the first time in history that hateful propaganda is used against the Jewish people. The level of obsession in which the venom is been spread is alarming, to say the least.

The T-shirt debacle created by the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaigners is a perfect example of the obsession in which some propagandists drive their campaigns. The truth doesn’t matter as long as it reaches the stated goal: deligitimization or obliteration of the other side. For the BDS, Israel is an Apartheid state, finish and klaar, but what do Palestinians themselves say about BDS and Israel being an Apartheid state?

This is what Palestinian human rights activist, Bassam Eid said about the Israeli company SodaStream which moved from the Jewish settlement of Mishor Adumim near Jerusalem to Beersheba because of international pressure: “I’ve met with Palestinians who worked at the factory and were fired because of the move. They told me they were earning an average of 5,000 shekels ($1,300) a month there, and that today they are being offered salaries of just 1,400 shekels ($365) in the Palestinian Authority.”

“People there are deep in debt because they have taken on long-term commitments based on the understanding that their work at the plant would continue; but reality slapped them in the face because of the pressure created by the BDS movement, “ he continued. “Today, they are running between the courts and the bailiff offices, and is anyone taking any notice of them? Do you think the boycott movement cares about them at all?”

Compare the desperate situation of ordinary Palestinians as described above with the $13 million palace replete with helipads, to be built in Ramallah for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas as announced on the official website of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR). Even Nkandla will be pale in comparison to the luxurious palace of Abbas.

In Gaza we see the same tendency among the Hamas leadership.  Many people in Gaza live in desperate circumstances, while there leadership live a life of splendour – living in luxury hotels and travel in private jets. Egyptian officials sharply criticized Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal, stating that “while the Hamas leadership lives in luxury hotels; it is abandoning the innocent Palestinian people.”

Is the BDS movement aware of these offences of the Palestinian leadership against their own people? If so, why are they silent about it and instead branding Israel as an Apartheid state, which they propagate as the cause of Palestinian suffering?

While Israel is unjustly branded as an Apartheid state, Palestinians over the border are suffering real Apartheid. In the words of a Palestinian woman: “We are Palestinians in Lebanon. It is illegal for us to own property, to work in desirable occupations, and to receive social security benefits. We are denied access to health care and education.”

 It is time for the Palestinian leadership to start a process of deep introspection instead of playing the blame game, and for the BDS movement to stop their arrogance to talk on behalf of the Palestinian people. Perhaps, they should take cognisance of the wise words of the award-winning Arab Israeli journalist, Khaled Abu Toameh : “If BDS supporters really care about Palestinians, why don’t they go to the Gaza Strip and try to promote the rights of women living under Hamas rule? Why don’t they come to the Palestinian territories and try to promote reforms, democracy and freedom of speech under the PA and Hamas? At the end of the day, BDS seems to be more about hating Israel than helping the Palestinians.”

The highly politicised and often hateful agenda of the BDS movement does more harm to the Palestinian people than helping them. It seems that it only benefits themselves and the people who sponsor them.

The growing BDS movement is reminiscent of Nazi Germany when signs went up saying, “Don’t buy from Jews!”


The United Church of Christ General Synod 2015

June 2, 2015

A church unwilling to learn the real facts about an issue and in particular the complicated situation in the Middle East, is a church without love and incubates hateful actions in their hearts. This description is in particular relevant to the United Church of Christ, who has divestment from Israel as one of the items on the agenda for their General Synod which will be held on 26-30 June 2015.

The United Church of Christ is only one of the member churches of the World Council of Churches which follow the ill advice of the WCC. The WCC never had any sympathy for the situation Israel and the Jewish people had to deal with – a total lack of a nuanced approach. To propose that Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians constitute “apartheid” is a lack of understanding what apartheid really was.

With Israel surrounded by enemies and by calling for the destruction of Israel, why is it so difficult to understand that Israel has to calculate every move and decision in an environment of existential threat? The unfortunate and extreme security measures to protect the citizens of Israel emanates from the violent attacks by Palestinians on ordinary people of Israel. The UCC should take note of what happened every time Israel compromised to make peace with the Palestinians – the withdrawal from Gaza was answered with rocket fire on Israel’s citizens.

Judith Yovel Recanati of the Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War estimates that 10% of Israeli’s suffer from Post Traumatic Stress as a result of war and terrorism. If the UCC has the love of God in their hearts, they would’ve shown more compassion and understanding.

Sadly, rather than pursue a peaceful coexistence alongside Israel, history records show Palestinians proliferated terror instead. Nevertheless, in 2000, Israel offered the Palestinians full sovereignty over 95 percent of the disputed territories, including East Jerusalem, with secured geographic contiguity. There was virtually nothing left for the Jews to give away. But the Palestinians said no. US Middle East envoy at the time said the Palestinians’ main objection was the insertion of one critical clause in the agreement: “This is the end of the conflict.” The Palestinians could not end the conflict with anything less than ending Israel.

I call upon the United Church of Christ to consider the following before castigating Israel as an apartheid state:

  • Arab women in many Muslim countries enjoy no rights at all – in Israel they enjoy all.
  • There is Arab representation in the Knesset and in the government, and there is an Arab Supreme Court judge.
  • More than 2 million Israeli citizens are not Jews.
  • There is complete freedom of religion, freedom of expression and a totally free press, used against Israel at times to her detriment.
  • More than 300,000 Arab children attend primary and secondary schools in Israel; and Arab students and professors study, research and teach at Israeli universities.
  • Arabic is an official language in Israel, even posted on all road signs.
  • Under the so-called Israeli occupation, Palestinians have the highest percentage of university students, the lowest infant mortality and the longest life expectancy of any front-line Arab state.

I would suggest to the delegates of the General Synod of the United Church of Christ to search their own hearts before castigating Israel based on half truths, obvious lies and propaganda with hurtful intent.

The social fibre in South Africa unravelling

March 30, 2015

The social fibre of our communities is in a dangerous stage of unravelling and I believe the media and some community organisations are partly to blame for this unacceptable situation. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is brought to our communities by biased and sometimes gravely propagandistic reporting and actions, pitting sections of the community against each other.

On Saturday night, 21 March 2015 at The Zone, Rosebank, three Jewish teenagers were physically assaulted and verbally abused by three South African men. The teenagers were clearly identified as Jewish, wearing Kippot (traditional Jewish head coverings). While one of the students was being hit, another assailant swore at him saying: “You F***ing Jew” and “your f***ing people are killing our innocent children”.

As far as I know, this is the first time that Jewish teenagers are physically and verbally abused in this way. It led me to the conclusion that the media together with organisations in furthering their particular brand of ideology play a huge role in stigmatizing and demonizing people in our communities. This is a very dangerous development and the media in particular have to reconsider their responsibility of informing their readership with unbiased and substantiated facts.

Partly to blame for the tendency to propagandize events is the seemingly, and which I call, the copy and paste method. That is simply to copy reports from AFP, Reuters and other news agencies and publish it in our local media without considering the possible negative effects on society. A better approach would be proper investigative journalism.

I do not propagate censorship of sensitive issues at all. Press freedom is a too precious commodity and I support it wholeheartedly. The thorn in the flesh is the deviation of the media from professional journalistic standards which have been particularly evident the past 3 years. The media should not play a role in dividing communities but rather to educate by publishing issues responsibly and professionally.

The uninformed in our communities are also used as cannon fodder by dubious organisations to enhance their questionable agendas. One example is the “activists” who demonstrated in front of a conference centre in Sandton where a Jewish conference was held in the beginning of March 2015. When asked why they demonstrate, they said they don’t know and that they were bussed in to demonstrate.

The usual line is that Israel should be branded as an Apartheid state and therefore boycott actions should be instituted against Israel. Such a notion is clearly false and the latest elections result, which was held on 17 March 2015, makes nonsense of the growing efforts to stigmatize Israel as an Apartheid state. An Arab Palestinian party is now the third largest party in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament). Even a person who visited Israel only once will testify to the fact that Israel is not an Apartheid state. The only conclusion to these feverish hate-mongering is a sinister hidden agenda.

If these multiple actors on the hate stage are transparent and their goal is to seek justice for the disenfranchised, they should be applauded. But, that is not the case and some pertinent questions should be asked. Why do they choose to ignore the status of women and public executions in Saudi-Arabia? Why are they silent on the grave atrocities in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia and other countries where innocent people are murdered just because they don’t practice the same religion as the murder gangs. I find it very strange, to say the least.

South Africa is a multi-cultural, multi-faceted country consisting of various races, religions and creed. If we allow the current divisive actions to go unchecked, we will leave behind a shattered country no one of us wants to see our children and grandchildren live in.

Our rainbow nation is broken and only we can heal it. In this regard the media plays a crucial and underestimated role.

Is Israel an Apartheid State?

December 14, 2014

We often read in the media about pro-Palestinian organisations and even some Christian ministers branding Israel as an Apartheid state. Can this evaluation of Israel be justified?  Or, is it perceived as a convenient and effective tool to further selfish ideological agendas. We need to look at the facts to determine if Israel can be categorised as an Apartheid state or not.

The practice of apartheid cannot be applied to Israel, and to say so is a misuse of the term. War does create unpleasant conditions. Building a security barrier and administering hostile territory until peace is possible is not “apartheid.” It is common sense. Israel’s security fence was built in response to terrorism. Its purpose is not to separate people by race, religion, or nationality but to separate terrorists from their targeted victims. Nor does Israel employ apartheid against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians are not Israeli citizens and do not wish to be. They have their own governments, Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Nor does Israel employ anything resembling apartheid within Israel. While Israel, like all multi-ethnic democracies, struggles to integrate its minorities more fully, its laws and programs try to eradicate, not enforce, disadvantages and discrimination. “Apartheid” applies more appropriately to those who dream of a Jew-free state of Palestine.

Israel is a parliamentary democracy represented by a very large number of parties, with universal suffrage for all citizens, regardless of race, religion, or sex, who are of voting age. More than 1.5 million Israeli citizens are not Jews.

Citizens originate from countries including Ethiopia, Morocco, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, India, Turkey, Greece and Russia. Neither colour nor creed is relevant to ones citizenship if there is a compliance with the immigration requirements as in countries all over the world.

No laws on the statute books prescribe living or working areas or movements of people. While segregation was legally enforced in SA there is no Israeli ideology or policy to segregate the Arab population.  Arabs choose to live in certain areas and send their children to their own schools according to their religious, linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Israeli Arabs are full citizens of Israel:  they enjoy full political rights; they can vote and stand freely for election and political association; they have free access to the Israeli court system if their rights are being infringed. Arab women in many Muslim countries enjoy no rights at all – in Israel they enjoy full rights.

There is Arab presentation in the Knesset and in the government, and there is an Arab Supreme Court judge. There is complete freedom of expression and a totally free press, used against Israel at times to its detriment.

More than six decades of historical evidence show that settlements have little to do with peace between Israel and the Arabs, including the Gaza disengagement. Today almost 300,000 Israelis live in communities throughout Judea and Samaria.

The call by the US to dismantle the settlements is predicated on the notion that pressuring Israel will change the attitude of the Arabs and that they will abandon six decades of hostility, and that the radical Islamists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah will suddenly accept a Jewish state in the Muslim heartland.

History shows that dismantling settlements and making territorial concessions are proof to the terrorists of signs of weakness on the part of Israel, and could cause them to launch even more terror attacks.

Before Israel offered the Palestinians autonomy in 1978-79, 6,000 Jews lived in the disputed territories. Had the Palestinians accepted even that admittedly limited proposal, they undoubtedly would have had a state within a few years and no more Jews would have moved to the territories. Instead, by the time of the Oslo accords in 1993, 130,000 Jews were living there.

In 1948, 539,000 Arabs left Israel at the urging of 7 Arab armies so that they would not be in the way of their attack.  850,000 Jews were ejected from the Arab countries where they had lived for hundreds of years.  Most of the Jewish refugees were immediately accepted by the new State of Israel, provided with shelter (albeit temporary tents) food and clothing.

The Arab refugees who had migrated to various Arab nations were not similarly well received. Squalid refugee camps were set up as showpieces to induce the West’s sympathy and kept that way. The UN through UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency) assisted the camps (when the host country could not or would not) which became a training ground for terrorist youth to be targeted at Israel.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is the only UN body dedicated to a specific refugee group.  All other refugees in the world are the responsibility of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In 1996 the number of Palestinian refugees stood at 3.3 million.

Any Arab who entered Israel up to two years prior to 1948 could claim to be a Palestinian refugee, even if he and his ancestors had lived elsewhere for generations before and he owned no land or property in Palestine. There are still refugees living in refugee camps because the Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel.

From 1948 – 1967 both the West Bank and Gaza were under the direct control of Jordan and Egypt. During this period neither party made any attempt to establish a state for the refugees, nor improve their living conditions.

Under Israeli occupation, Palestinians have the highest percentage of university students, the lowest infant mortality and the longest life expectancy of any front-line Arab state.

When asked what governments they admired most, more than 80 percent of Palestinians consistently chose Israel because they could see up close the thriving democracy in Israel, and the rights the Arab citizens enjoyed there.

A survey released in 2010 showed that 35 percent of Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents would choose Israeli citizenship over Palestinian citizenship. Thirty percent said they preferred Palestinian citizenship, while another 35 percent said they did not know. They cited freedom of movement, higher income and Israeli health insurance as the reasons behind their choice.  They also preferred Israeli jobs, schools, health care and welfare benefits to those of a Palestinian state, and their nationalism was not strong enough for them to set aside these advantages in order to live in an Arab country. Those who chose Palestinian citizenship overwhelmingly cited nationalism/patriotism as their primary motivation.

What does citizens in Arab countries in the Arab media said about Israel? Here are a few interesting comments:

Mohammed: “Of course Islam is the best religion. But the regimes that claim to endorse Islam are practicing repression and corruption. Meanwhile, Israel is among the democratic countries and is better than all the Arab and Islamic countries when it comes to respecting its people and combating theft of resources.” (Al-Wasat News)

Adel: “This is the secret to Israel’s success; it has become a symbol of justice because it has made justice one of its major bases of power. We, on the other hand, are doing the opposite. We continue to cover up cases of corruption and do not do anything about them.” (Echorouk Online)

Sami Dirani: “Israel is the enemy of the Arabs…but it practices democracy – something the Arabs do not know. That is why Israel is stronger and more advanced than the Arabs, who are busy slaughtering each other. Some Arabs are dying of starvation, while others are swimming in pools of dollars.” (Al-Hayat)

Abdo Shehatah: “The Jews continue to prove, every day, that they have real democracy in this world.” (CNN – Arabic).

We need to guard against using information for propaganda purposes. It only worsen an already complicated situation.

The Deadly Consequences of Compromising

November 12, 2014

Israel experienced the deadliest month in two years. Sergeant Almog Shiloni, 20, from Modi’in, killed in Tel Aviv, and Dalia Lemkus, 26, who was stabbed to death at the entrance to Alon Shvut on Monday 10 November 2014, were the tenth and eleventh Israelis to be murdered in the past six months.

Dalia Lemkus escaped with her life from a stabbing attack in Gush Etzion in 2006, but fell prey to a different terrorist in the West Bank on Monday night. Dalia’s family made aliyah to Israel from South Africa over 20 years ago and has become a prominently active family in the community.

This is how she described the attack in 2006:

“I stood on February 28, 2006 at Gush Etzion Junction when a terrorist came and began to stab those standing at a hitchhiking station,” Lemkus said at the time of the incident. “I was one of two people stabbed. Luckily I was not badly wounded, and with the help of God, the other wounded victim will recover.”

In response to an article she had read, about restraining orders being issued to right-wing activists, Lemkus wrote:

“Instead of fighting the settlers, the IDF and the state have to fight the terrorists in Gaza. Instead of evacuating settlers defending the country and serving in the army, the state should evacuate terrorists who fire on the IDF and kidnap soldiers and civilians.”

“Expel and punish the people who endanger us,” Lemkus said, “no matter what the price, on their part, is. They must pay the price for their terror. It is the only way to stop terrorism.”

Unfortunately, 8 years later Dalia Lemkus and many others had to pay the heavy price by losing their lives because of a lack of a coherent strategy by politicians to fight terrorism. The question should also be asked if Operation Protective Edge was not stopped too soon. It seems that Hamas is using the calm in Gaza to attack Israeli citizens by other means. The IDF lost its deterrence and Hamas took the initiative. It is imperative that deterrence should be restored as soon as possible.

Israel’s leaders should understand that Western leaders do not understand the Islamic ideology. This is the reason for the near idiotic suggestions and decisions made on Israel by leaders of Western countries. They only make matters worse. It is delusional to think that peace will come to the Middle East just by negotiating with the Palestinians. History shows that Palestinian leaders only use negotiations to extract more concessions.

Unfortunately, Moshe Dayan was a great military leader, but his compromise to allow the government of Jordan to administer the Temple Mount lead to the current situation in Jerusalem. The sovereignty of Jerusalem is under attack.

It is time for Israel as a nation to turn to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for advice and leadership as the sages of Israel does. It is also time for Israel to honour their part of the covenant with God and to settle the land and not divide it to please the world. Today we all know that such a gesture motivates terrorists to expand their borders of evil even further.

Although we live in prophetic times and could expect these things to happen, we also need to boldly resist evil. The duty for us as gentiles is not to only pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but also to obtain knowledge and speak out against the false narrative created to attack Israel.

Dark days are coming, but God chose Israel to be the light to the world. I pray that the nation of Israel will realise in these trying times that God will never forsake them if they trust Him with their whole heart.

Zechariah 12:2-3 says, “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.”

Israel’s BIGGEST and true ally has the following promise:

“The Lord also will roar from Zion,

And utter His voice from Jerusalem;

The heavens and earth will shake;

But the Lord will be a shelter for His people,

And the strength of the children of Israel.” Joel 3:16

South Africa need to take the blinkers off

October 7, 2014

The current tactics used by anti-Israel groups and especially with the support of senior members of the ANC and government is counter-productive.  Instead of building trust through a more nuanced and balanced approach, distrust is guaranteed by applying raw aggressive and unsophisticated tactics.

It is understandable that South Africa’s tri-partite alliance will side with the Palestinian cause, but it is unfortunate that it is done in such a way that it endangers the chances for them to be a legitimate partner in a future peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Alliance partners should rather adopt a more holistic approach by considering the fear and ambitions of both sides in the conflict.  To take part in rallies branding Israel as the aggressor while rockets are fired on its civilian population, evidently many times from civilian areas in Gaza to extract collateral damage, are not helpful.  To support rallies in which Hamas is idolized is disastrous – I refer to a rally in the streets of Cape Town where children displaying props in the form of rockets and guns.

With the advent of ISIS, some commentators clearly started to understand the dangers radical Islam poses and also beginning to question the modus operandi of Hamas. Hopefully, this sober analysis will filter through to more people of influence and especially the tri-partite alliance in South Africa.

Although the South African situation could not be superimposed on the Israel/Palestinian situation, the South African Government, with its experience of reconciliation processes, could’ve played a constructive role.  Unfortunately, the South African Government relinquished that role by the statements of its Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe when he urged Ministers and Government Representatives not to visit Israel.  History will judge South Africa on a missed opportunity to play a constructive role in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, the media too forsook the opportunity to play a constructive role by not reporting and informing people in an unbiased way.  This is an international phenomenon and many times the media agencies are to blame as the local media are dependent on agencies, such as Reuters, AFP, etc.

Involvement in peace initiatives should not be clouded by political motives and ideology, but driven by an honest endeavor to reach a lasting peace.

I stand with Israel

September 1, 2014

I’m not Jewish, nor am I an Israeli. I am a Christian Afrikaner and a friend of Israel.

I declare today that I stand with Israel. I mourn those whose lives have been lost in this conflict, Israelis and Palestinians−I grieve and I am saddened, but also indignant.

So many of my fellow South Africans have made hasty judgments in this conflict based on what the media have chosen to present. For any fair-minded, thinking person it should be blatantly obvious that we are not being presented with the full picture. As a simple example we know that news reports are biased and unbalanced when they begin: “Israeli bombardment of Gaza continues” but fail to mention that Israel is bombing in response to 20,000 rockets over the last 9 years that have been fired into Israel by Hamas who use civilians as human shields and that Hamas repeatedly violates ceasefire agreements.

As a Christian South African I stand with those who protect the rights of all ethnic groups. As a Christian I am grateful for the spiritual heritage that has formed my beliefs. I stand with a nation that allows freedom of religion and respects the holy sites of all religions. In particular I stand with a nation where women are treated with dignity, respect and enjoy opportunity and freedom.

As a South African who believes in Mandela’s legacy, I stand with a nation that is in the forefront of the fight for democracy, freedom, civilization and life. I stand with Israel.