Unpublished letter on Hamas sent to Cape Times

Dear Ed,

There is a biblical saying “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

The ethics of reciprocity, popularly referred to as the “golden rule,” is any form of the dictum: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

This concept appears in some formulation in nearly all religions and ethical systems. It has its ​roots in the canonical source texts of the ​​Jewish​ religion, Christianity and ​Islam.

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn,” was outlined by Hillel and recorded in the Mishnah, which forms part of the canon of Jewish thought which emanates from the Holy Land as well as the Diaspora and which has been bequeathed to all of humanity.

It is found in later Christian texts in particular John verse 18, Mathew 5:38 and Luke 6:27-28 and is strongly alluded to​ by​ related ethical concepts in Islam​

The Qurʾān exhorts believers to be merciful (Q 90:17), to forgive others (Q 24:22), to give charity (Q 2:254), and to seek justice even at the expense of self-interest (Q4:135). It warns believers that hatred leads to injustice (Q 5:8).

According to scholars: “​The heavy emphasis on good works as a general Qurʾānic theme can be considered the logical results of the ethics of reciprocity in action.”

Similarly, when South Africans are asked to reciprocate in their open support and solidarity with the people of Palestine, we need to remember that unlike our secular struggle for freedom and democracy which was based upon a tangible civil rights document known as the Freedom Charter, no similar document exists as such when it comes to the Middle East.

Where moral authority for the people of South Africa was drawn from natural rights arising from a democratic struggle for justice in our own country, the ‘ moral authority​’ alluded to by Hamas, Fatah and also by extension Tel Aviv, all arise​ from a ​particular ​historicist reading​, one​ placing each others struggle at the centre of world​ events ​and ​ each depending upon ​each other’s relative ​ time-frame.

This is not the purpose of this piece to examine the relative merits of each sides claim to the holy land, other than to note the injustice of the call to solidarity expressed by ​a member of the politburo of Hamas ​in the daily press, which I decline for the following reason:

There is no attempt by Hamas to provide for secularism and human rights for all affected people in its revised political programme, amended earlier this year to bring it in line with the Fatah movement’s acceptance of the borders of 1967​ as a starting point of negotiation. Far from plugging this more moderate line, the spokesperson goes so far as to narrate and reiterate the prior case for the complete removal of his opponent, and thus a standpoint which would be unacceptable, even to those who would need to be included in any negotiation process.

As a longstanding anti-apartheid activist, and war resister, and thus a hostage to both sides in the conflict, I can only caution, that the resolution of our own conflict at home, came about not merely due to acts of international solidarity, but rather because of the genuine acceptance by each party of the need to listen to each other’s respective points of view, and thus the need for reciprocity and dialogue.

It is only via reciprocity and dialogue with all parties affected, that any resolution to the conflict can ever come about.

I therefore bid you peace and well-being over the New Year festive season.
Sincerely yours
David Robert Lewis
  1. WHEN the Independent Group was taken over by a consortium lead by Dr Iqbal Survé, there were some like me, who hoped for a fresh start. The group quickly ran into criticism, the least of which is the highly publicized debacle surrounding the firing of Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois.After a settlement was extricated at Labour Court, the group once again ran into trouble with Dasnois accusing the company of being in breach of the settlement and so Independent was sanctioned by the Press Council, which ordered the group to apologise for a number of misleading headlines.
    Independent media can’t spell.No sooner had the ruling by the Press Council been issued, when Independent announced it was withdrawing from the council, and a structure which had arrived out of decades of frenetic negotiation around a government-sanctioned self-regulatory mechanism. The reasons for the withdrawal were attacked for ‘not making logical sense‘.“In ditching the Press Council, Independent Media listed as its main complaint the Press Council’s reluctance to reintroduce the highly contentious waiver as its reason for ditching the Press Council” wrote Julie Reid.Previously, complainants waved legal action in order to bring their complaints under the auspices of the council, however the very reason the council had been set up was threefold. Firstly to avoid government regulation and intervention in the press. Secondly, to provide the public with a cost effective and impartial forum for making complaints and thirdly, to provide a Press Code that was not simply written by one organisation.In its stead, Independent reverted to an internal Ombudsman system which had been in place during the years of the former Argus Group, and a state of affairs for which the Argus had already apologised during the TRC media hearings. In the process Independent dumped the Press Code, and formulated its own narrow view of the press, which appears to by nothing less than gabbering sycophancy so far as government is concerned.In this sense, not only was the industry seemingly ‘regulating itself’, but the company was now distancing its titles from the legal system as well as the press council framework, in effect picking its own favorite regulator, a friendly Muslim, whilst playing a dual role of both editorial and inhouse complaints resolution. Thus setting in motion a situation where Dr Iqbal Survé, and his male-dominated and sectarian newsrooms, possessed an administrative override on any complaints made to his news organisation. While women still figure in writing and reporting, they are remarkably absent when it comes to editorship within the group and where they do affect editorial, they invariably occupy a symbolic role.Of concern, is that there is currently no means of enforcing the Press Code when it comes to the Independent Group, and with our legal system being rather expensive and out of reach of the ordinary public, the result has been positively stifling.Gone was any effort to balance news stories affecting a range of controversial subjects around the world, in particular the USA and Middle East.Gone was divergence of opinion on the opinion pages.Gone was the plethora of letters debating, disagreeing, and calling editors and writers to task.In their place were editorial love letters, and weekly ravings by self-styled news correspondents such as “foreign editor” Shannon Ebrahim and “analyst” Ebrahim Harvey, two obviously Muslim persons, followed by lengthy and often turgid materialist and industrialist views of South Africa and the World. A world viewed via the narrow Islamic prism of the likes of Aneez Salie and Aziz Hartley.A former shipping columnist Brian Ingpen for instance, is now a regular opinion piece in the Cape Times op-ed pages, providing the dull rigmerol of shipping information flowing into the gutters, alongside dense and impenetrable press releases, like that issued by DIRCO yesterday presumably testifying to the joys of a BRICS summit to be held in Joburg and thus available to buyers of the now 10 page rag, in 10 point type.Independent titles in recent months have come to resemble government tearsheets, with short thrift given to concerns about whose opinion in the broader community should receive priority over the daily thrust of a hopelessly compromised news agency ANA, and equally boring headlines, with the one exception, that it appears INM have now launched a sports magazine, if only to allay fears that the group is going under.Suppression of views with which one disagrees are the hallmark of authoritarian regimes. As a well-known commentator puts it, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Having a daily press the size of Independent producing government propaganda and fan-mail for the Survé Group, whilst censoring opinion, can only have the opposite effect to liberal democracy. There is a reason why Pravda is now a fashion label and a single newspaper in Russia, and is no longer the state news agency for the Soviet Union.NOTE: This writer is currently under an unspoken ‘editorial fatwa’ issued by INM with respect to his letters to the press see here and here and here, thus content carried by Medialternatives.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading…Related
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