Stop the War

THE war being fought by adults against children in the Middle East must stop. The war being waged by religious extremists against Secularism must come to an end. The bombing of civilians in Gaza and targeting of settlements in Israel must cease. The destruction of antiquities in the region, the latest outrage in which ISIS took sledgehammers to the Mosul tomb of Prophet Jonah while countless Shia shrines and Mosques were destroyed during the past month merely pre-empts the latest round of retribution in which missiles are being fired at Jerusalem as well as Gaza City.

An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. That we are marking the anniversary of the first World War at the same time that yet another Israel-Gaza debacle has arrived alongside the war in Syria and Iraq threatens to ignite a tinderbox. The war in Mesopotamia and the Levant must be cause for urgent action and concern by peacebuilders and war-resisters everywhere.

Partisan statements by the ANC’s Jesse Duarte must therefore be condemned. The ruling parties apparent support for Hamas brings to an end a long tradition of African non-alignment and bipartisanship which found its exemplar in the late Nelson Mandela’s refusal to cave into extremist positions on either side, in particular the call by Hamas for the destruction of Israel and its replacement with an Islamic State.

There is nothing left about supporting religious fanaticism — whether Islamic extremism or Zionism. There is nothing left about opposing Secularism and the reasonable accommodation of all religions, creeds and cultures within a constitutional democracy.

Duarte’s statements merely assert her party’s relentless right-wing crusade in regard to removing human rights in our own country. That we still have a state which for the most part is aligned with the Church, where some 70% of South Africans are Christian, and which has failed miserably to protect the rights of religious and cultural minorities is clear. Our legal system continues to maintain Christian privilege at our expense and is, for the most part, a Christian Normative system based upon the Covenant of Rome and the past inequities of British and Dutch rule.

Our democratic constitution is still very much an unrealised project and for many it continues to present an unobtainable goal. We must therefore demand a return to the values of the Freedom Charter and Democracy and likewise refuse to support any struggle which is opposed to these values. Whatever one’s outlook or belief system, it needs to be said that neither the PLO nor Hamas, nor Israel possess such a Charter granting basic human rights and dignities to everyone, regardless of race or creed.

This criticism must be addressed if we are to move forward in the peace process.


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