Putin is South Africa’s problem

FOR too long my own country South Africa has been trading off bloodshed — the 69 deaths at Sharpville, the apartheid-era massacres of Boipatong (45), and earlier loss of life at Bulhoek (163) and Leliesfontein (35) which occurred under the colonial authorities. As a consequence, of our hard-won transition to democracy and peaceful end to apartheid, we have taken it upon ourselves to lecture all and sundry on human rights. No longer.

The introduction of an alternative UN resolution on the war in Ukraine — a resolution which did not mention Russia at all — was resoundingly rejected by the General Assembly, ‘leaving South Africa’s facade of neutrality in the conflict in tatters’. It literally went down like a concrete Dolossus chucked into Table Bay.

The Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN likened the South African motion to ‘knowingly giving a dying child a placebo instead of medicine’ and slapping ‘fresh paint on the moldy rotten structure of the assembly’ and ‘criticised South Africa for neither condemning Russia nor consulting with Ukraine on the matter.’

As the events surrounding the massacre and atrocities at Bucha play out, absolutely nothing to do with a ‘natural disaster’, as the SA rhetoric might suggest, one can only hold one’s head in shame, apologise to the world community while calling for restraints on ANC top brass — sanctions that could include restrictions on members’ international travel, and even the removal of South Africa from international organisations such as the UN Human Rights Council if necessary.

The ANC has been scrambling to reframe South Africa’s position on the humanitarian crisis, with Naledi Pandor issuing statements to the press on Friday saying the country “always opposed violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states and we don’t choose which member state”, whilst she also opposed Western intervention in the crisis, and insisted that Russia was the real victim, ‘an injured bear being constantly poked with a stick.’

Ramaphosa telephoned Joe Biden late Friday evening in a diplomatic effort around his thus far unsuccessful mediation efforts, and in an attempt to rescue trade relations. 

For nearly a decade, South Africa “unquestionably represented Russia’s biggest foreign policy success story on the continent. As relations soared during the ill-starred presidency og f Jacob Zumaer (2009–2018), the Kremlin sought to wrest a geopolitically significant state out of the West’s orbit and to create a partnership that could serve as a springboard for expanded influence elsewhere in Africa,” writes Andrew Weiss of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Moscow’s strategy was multifaceted,” he says, capitalizing on well-established close ties with Zuma, a former African National Congress senior intelligence official with extensive Soviet bloc connections. Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials pursued a series of initiatives, such as the inclusion of South Africa in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) grouping and the launch of ambitious forms of cooperation between state-backed energy interests primarily in the nuclear sector.”

To its credit, the so-called BRICS bank has placed a temporary halt on new Russian loans. The same cannot be said of the Ramaphosa administration which has been reluctant to sanction the Russian regime. Pandor hypocritically favours sanctions when it comes to the Palestine issue, but non-alignment and no sanctions when it comes to Ukraine. It remains to be seen whether or not the temporary suspension by the BRICS bank will hold, especially when alternatives to the SWIFT embargo are proposed from the far-left in South Africa.

The second largest opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters, (EFF) openly supports Russian aggression, while the official opposition Democratic Alliance is more supportive of Ukrainian independence from Putin.

Russian-South Africa nuclear projects keep on reappearing in various forms, though currently halted by the country’s robust environmental movement — the latest plans touted by Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe suggest Russia still has a role to play in South African energy policy and despite the presence of international sanctions.

Deputy President David Mabuza for instance, defended South Africa’s decision to buy gas from Russia some days ago.

Mabuza is reported to claim there was nothing “sinister” about his close ties to Russia and the country’s gas deals in the wake of the war in Ukraine. He said that ‘his visits to Russia for medical reasons should not be viewed with suspicion as the country tries to access more natural gas.’

Gazprombank, owned by Russia’s state-owned gas supplier, confirms it is considering a bid for what is potentially a multibillion-rand contract. The country is considered an essential part of Putin’s geopolitical grand strategy and is part of a minority of African states which refused to condemn Russia.

Though South Africa’s constitution is pacifist — a democratic instrument which has translated into a multiparty democracy, with a semblance of an independent executive and judiciary — the revelations of the Zondo Commission of inquiry into corruption under the Zuma administration paint a picture of a state which in many ways, is eerily similar to Putin’s Russia.

ANC ties reach back to the days of the struggle when the old Soviet Union was a major sponsor of the party.

It is no coincidence that the ANC has modelled itself after the oligopolistic, post-Communist Putin regime in which many parts of the economy are beholden to the Kremlin. South Africa’s 700+ State-owned Enterprises have acted to hobble our nation’s energy, transport, and telecommunications infrastructure, in the process breeding corruption and graft, a situation which has only begun to be corrected under Ramaphosa.

Given South Africa’s failed UN resolution, some would say the would-be reformist President is surely past his prime and unfit to govern? It is perhaps apt, that in Greek mythology, Dolos, (also a South African invention) is the spirit of trickery.

CORRECTION: Earlier versions of this article had 64 deaths at Sharpville taken from the SAhistory.org.za site.

A version of this piece was published by Daily Maverick 9 April 2022

Serial litigator, Terry Crawford-Browne is at it again, this time in support of Putin

OVER the years, former gold-dealer and banker, Terry Crawford-Browne has proven to be somewhat of a jaded crusader against war, that is, an opponent of militarism whenever it suits him. Thus while he opposes Western arms deals under the rubric “Economists Allied For Arms Reduction” and especially local arms-procurement, he has often ended up supporting the stratagems and policies of foreign dictators and autocrats

Crawford-Browne rose to fame on the coat-tails of the Anglican Church’s sanctions campaign against apartheid, and then proceeded to oppose the controversial realignment and hardware acquisitions of the new government and South African National Defense Force. The result was that along with Patricia de Lille, Crawford-Browne was given a platform to pursue a political agenda that has involved, inter alia, promoting Hamas and Putin’s Russia.

That judeophobia and denazification make for strange bedmates can be seen by Crawford-Browne’s latest scurrilous attacks against US President Joe Biden at the same time as he promotes a Pro-Putin narrative that has been thoroughly debunked by news organisations which include Deutsche Welle.

Crawford-Browne claims: “Biden, then as vice president, orchestrated the 2014 Maidan Revolution ‘regime change’ in Ukraine, in which the US ‘invested’ $5bn.”

He then goes on to infer that the President’s son, Hunter Biden’s position on the board of an obscure Gas Company Burisma, is untoward and indicative of this conspiracy, a minor scandal in US politics according to Vox, and one which deserves to be compared to the equally stricken Nord Stream 2 deal between Putin and Germany.

Though money was certainly spent by the US Department of State, and by NGOs which had government grants, the result is far from an ‘orchestration of events’. Not only was the money ‘over the table’ and not in the least bit clandestine, the financial help to organisations committed to development of civil society and Democracy, occurred during the course of many years .

Assistant Secretary Nuland at the USA-Ukraine Foundation Conference for instance specified USD 5 billion in aid since 1991, which is a far cry from the latest story being touted by Crawford-Browne, who is not simply the author of conspiracy stories involving arms dealers and intelligence operatives, but a peddler of blarney, and a litigant held in contempt of court, for defaming Trevor Manual amongst others.

In 2014 Crawford-Browne similarly went before the Arms Deal Commission and proceeded to claim that the person really responsible for the assassination of Chris Hani in 1993 was none other than “former Defence Minister Joe Modise”. An outrageous, unproven conspiracy story, that to date, has never been substantiated by any evidence, and despite the primary problem — both Clive Derby-Lewis and Janus Waluz were found guilty, alongside a plot by the right-wing.

Earlier in 2008 Browne was found guilty of contempt of court over his claims that Finance Minister Trevor Manuel is corrupt and was interdicted from repeating the corruption claims until a defamation action in which Manual was asking for a permanent gag on Crawford-Browne was settled. In the end, Manual was unsuccessful in his bid to permanently silence Crawford-Browne, in part due to his bid before the Constitutional Court to reopen the arms-deal inquiry — a move which itself turned out to be unsuccessful, with none of the issues ever finding any resolution.

In an opinion piece published by Business Day, Crawford-Browne finds an opportunity to repeat many of the lies being touted by Putin apologists. For example, the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea, was merely a ‘secession’, thus no actual invasion as such occurred. It was the Azov battalion, (a Ukrainian militia formed in response to the creation of Pro-Russian militia after Putin flooded Eastern Ukraine with arms) who are responsible for the breakaway move, since they are in reality “Nazis flying Nazi Swastika flags” — an Anti-Jewish menace behind the ‘deaths of 14 000 Russian speaking Ukrainians in the Donbas region.’

There is no source provided for the death toll, nor even a vague consideration of the deaths of either Ukranians and Russians, whether Jewish or Gentile, in Putin’s latest military invasion which has resulted in 4 million refugees and displaced persons, and which is certainly not restricted to the Donbas.

While the Azov adoption of a nationalistic symbol once associated with the Waffen SS, drew criticism from Israel at the time, resulting in the battalion being absorbed into the regular Ukrainian army, the result is far from the picture of white supremacy painted by Crawford-Browne, who is himself, white.

A statement by 250 Scholars of Genocide, Nazism and World War II thus rejected the “Russian government’s cynical abuse of the term genocide, the memory of World War II and the Holocaust, and the equation of the Ukrainian state with the Nazi regime to justify its unprovoked aggression.”

“This rhetoric is factually wrong, morally repugnant and deeply offensive to the memory of millions of victims of Nazism and those who courageously fought against it, including Russian and Ukrainian soldiers of the Red Army” they said.

Leftsplaining Ukraine: Why does EFF support the Far Right in Russia?

JULIUS MALEMA cynically used an event held to commemorate the 1960 Sharpville massacre to lend his support by implication, to the bombing of a Mariupol Theatre four days earlier, in which 400 persons including children were sheltering. He thus praised Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine on a National holiday, now called Human Rights Day, more commonly associated with an apartheid-era massacre which killed 69 people.

Contrast this with Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek economist and former Finance Minister who has written a manifesto of sorts, on the Ukraine conflict. He says: “When a country or region is invaded, I am overcome by one duty: To take the side of the people facing troops with direct orders to violate their homes, to bombard their neighbourhoods, to destroy the circumstances of their lives. Without hesitation. Unconditionally.”

Varoufakis then proceeds, like many Pro-Palestine activists around the globe, to draw an analogy with events in Ukraine and children in occupied Palestinian territories throwing stones at “Israel Army bulldozers”. 

If that is not an indication of where many on the left find themselves in this conflict, then I don’t know what would rank as a typical leftist, albeit misguided position? The position of the leader of the so-called Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on the other hand, can only be termed, despicable, and is perhaps redolent of nostalgia for the past?

Malema made much of the fact that Russia, during the Soviet period had armed MK guerrillas with Kalashnikovs as well as other war materiel and financial aid. He didn’t bother to inform his comrades that the Anti-Communist and fascist philosopher, Ivan Ilyin once expelled by Lenin, is considered to be a major ideological inspiration for Putin, who was personally involved in moving Ilyin’s remains back to Russia, and in 2009 consecrating his grave (see below).

Varoufakis states: “Today we must stand with Ukraine, unconditionally. And we must say it out loud: Putin is a war criminal whose campaign sits in the same category as the Hitler-Stalin invasion of Poland or the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. No ifs, no buts. Our task must be one: To help Ukrainians gain their independence against a ruthless invader.”

Like many anti-war resisters, I stood against USA and its war in Iraq, in the same manner that I oppose the war being fought by adults against children in the Middle East. I was thus an organiser and marshal at an event in 2002 (held on my birthday), which saw 100 000 people marching down Adderley St calling for an end to the war.

And while we may differ ideologically on the rationale and context of the issues affecting the two sides in Israel and Palestine (from my end, it’s a tragic case of injustice vs injustice, complicated by secular and religious identity), we can at least agree that we are opposed to war in principle, as a means of solving our problems, since at the end of the day, ‘it is not about who is right, but who is left that matters’.

Unlike the South African Communist Party (SACP) whose starting point is a universal ‘stand for peace’, or the Pan African Congress (PAC) whose position, much like the ANC, is seemingly one of non-alignment,( in this case, Pro-African non-alignment, rather than a flailing Pro-Brics effort at neutrality under Ramaphosa ) — the far-left EFF appear to have swallowed the lies being punted by Vladimir Putin, who is really nothing more than a white Christian Nationalist and despot.

One has merely to watch Putin addressing a flag-waving crowd, calling for Russian unity, whilst quoting from the bible to realise this is true.

Julius Malema, attempted pretty much the same feat by coming out in open support of the invasion, before a unified throng of red overalls,he reiterated: “We are not with America, we are with Russia.”

With deputy Floyd Shivambu earlier urging renewed support of Russia, the EFF appear to ignore the fact that Putin has been shown to be a disciple and scholar of Ivan Ilyin — a far-right Russian nationalist and anti-Communist expelled by Lenin in 1922, — and also Alexander Dugin, the Eurasianist and fascist geopolitician, who rank amongst other ‘symbols of classical Russian historiography’ quoted by the leader in the run up to the invasion.

Ilyin much like Malema, provided a metaphysical and moral justification for political totalitarianism, which he expressed in practical outlines for a fascist state.

Read Putin’s 2021 essay outlining his claims over Ukraine, as a central part of a Greater Russia.

Malema of course, didn’t let on that since he is 41 and born 3 March 1981, he was not much older than 10 when the USSR broke up, paving the way for South Africa’s own negotiated settlement. In short, Malema never carried a gun during the struggle and was never part of the anti-apartheid movement, as anything more than a minor.

He thus requires a further lesson in history. For Ilyin, ‘any talk about a Ukraine separate from Russia made one a mortal enemy of Russia’. The philosopher disputed that an individual could choose their nationality ‘any more than cells can decide whether they are part of a body.”

This is a far cry from the collegiality and internationalism for which communism was once famed, and even the Pan Africanism which informs many political schools of thought in South Africa.

Dugin can be credited with relocating Ilyin’s ideas within a geopolitical quest for Empire and apartness, what some would term multipolarity. As he puts it “we are not part of the global civilisation, we are a civilisation ourselves”. In this view, liberal values such as multi-party democracy, LGBTIQ and women’s rights are not necessarily shared values.

Dugin is a leading strategist behind the United Russia Party, which supports Putin in the Kremlin. A fascist and anti-Communist, he is the author of a Russian version of “Manifest Destiny” known as Foundations of Geopolitics (1997), a work used as a textbook in the Academy of the General Staff of the Russian military.

SEE: An Introduction to Ivan Ilyin, the Philosopher Behind the Authoritarianism of Putin’s Russia & Western Far Right Movements

Dear ‘Wokus Pokus’ Saffer Putin Supporter

Dear ‘Wokus Pokus’ Saffer Putin Supporter

Yes, I mean you. One of the many pseudo lefties in South Africa who claim “Russia is surrounded by Nato” despite the country sharing a border with Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. The average, misguided socialist wannabee stuck with what Nigel Gibson writing on newsite ‘Africa Is A Country’ calls “crude anti-imperialist positions that are silent about the actual invasion of an independent country.”

Always returning to the Marxist ‘bully pulpit’ to support a country which is no longer the USSR, for the sake of ‘solidarity’ with a cause that was dead and buried when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.

One of many pathetic small minds who always seem to claim allegiance to a big man — today it is the dictator and homophobe, Vladimir Putin, despite his track record of poisoning his opposition and locking up girl bands like Pussy Riot, who criticise him — tomorrow who will it be?

As Mokubung Nkomo writes in ‘Russia has become a far-right, Orwellian oligarchy — any historical solidarity is with a state that no longer exists’ : “Unlike the socialist USSR, Russia has become an unapologetic, mainly mixed economy, with an oversized oligarchic disposition. There is a huge substantive difference in the philosophies and political economies between the old USSR and the Russian Federation.”

Like England’s Henry VII, the Kremlin seizes the property of its critics, says veteran political analyst Keith  Gottschalk. This week, the country arrested several anti-war protesters for holding up blank pieces of paper.

Perhaps you would care to study some Russian history?

The country was one of the parties to the 1884 Berlin Conference which redrew the map of Africa. Czarist Russia was represented by Count Pyotr Alekseyevich Kapnist, a diplomat acting on behalf of the Czar, who consented to the result which gave the British, French, Germans, Italians and Portuguese, African colonies, so that the Russian Empire could cling to its own European territories which included the Baltic, Poland, Finland and Eurasia.

Russia consented because it wished to keep its benefits from an earlier period of serfdom and white slavery in the face of European abolitionists, and though landlocked for the most part, Russia was happy to see the West doing what it was doing in Africa so it could expand into territories which are now Asian Republics.

Czarist Russia also supported the Boers in the Anglo Boer war, and committed mercenaries on the side of the Afrikaners in order to prop up white supremacy whilst it was committing pogroms against Jews in the Baltic — my own family history, surely demonstrates that immigrants are not always self-serving colonials, but often those simply fleeing tyranny?

Though the subsequent history of the Russian Revolution and the formation of the USSR is a lot different, a riveting piece of world history, it really is of no consequence to the current events playing out today, since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, leaving only its successor, the so-called Russian Federation?

While you’re frenetically busy spreading Pro-Putin propaganda for a dictator who routinely silences dissent and are tediously, claiming this to be a noble fight ‘between socialism and capitalism’, try to quit Leftsplaining the conflict?

Why should we need to bother defending Russian state television RT and the loss of a solitary news feed from the Kremlin, if this means ignoring independent voices and media within Russia itself?

Consider the fate of Rain TV network, forced to close because of a Putin decree making it a criminal offense to criticise the Russian military, a law making it illegal to refer to the military operation as an ‘invasion’ or even a ‘war’.

Are you neglecting Russia’s many wars and invasions? The invasion of Afghanistan 1979? The invasion of Hungary 1956? The wars in Chechnya 1994 and 1999? ‘It’s exactly the same playbook as we’ve seen before in Grozny, in Chechnya and in Homs and Aleppo in Syria’.

Consider the resulting disorder and disruption experienced by millions of refugees across Europe in the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945? The targeting of civilians in a campaign that resembles an earlier Russian effort to prop up the Syrian butcher Assad, a man who gassed his own people?

While you foolishly ‘rabble-rouse’ on the alleged racism experienced by Africans at the border with Poland only to end up being played by Putin, consider the losses experienced by African students forced to flee Ukranian universities? Before the war, in 2019 the country was listed in the top 20 for those seeking refuge including migrants from Africa It is now the World’s number one source of refugees.

And while you needlessly deploy the rhetoric of ‘whataboutism’ in a vain and selfish effort to string together each and every war and conflict around the globe in your hip, ersatz and cheap, anti-Western invective, pause to consider the uncomfortable ‘what-abouts’ — like what-about Saddam Hussein and his gassing of Iranians? Or what-about Osama bin Laden and his bankrolling of 911 hijackers? Or what-about Muammar Gaddafi, and his penchant for throwing his opposition in prison?

Did you also miss the fact that Gaddafi sent his jets to bomb his own people, forcing Sarkozy to react when pilots who refused to do so, started seeking asylum in France? Maybe it was because you were too busy watching Russia Today and ignoring France 24 and the BBC?

Criticise the West and its many wars, oppose all war if you will, but let’s get some facts straight:

The Russian Federation is not a socialist utopia, but rather models itself on the earlier Imperialist Russia, along with its oligarchs, aristocrats and billionaires. A recent stadium address by Putin has all the fanfare of an evangelical meeting of white Christian nationalists.

Ukraine broke from the USSR in 1991 and willingly gave up its nuclear warheads in exchange for guarantees of territorial integrity from Russia and the West, the so-called Budapest Memorandum: “On December 5, 1994 the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Britain and the United States signed a memorandum to provide Ukraine with security assurances in connection with its accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state. The four parties signed the memorandum, containing a preamble and six paragraphs.”

Putin invaded Crimea, a Ukranian territory in 2014 following the events surrounding “Euromaidan” a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which ‘began on the night of 21 November 2013 with public protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv’ and resulted in a popular overthrow of Pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, who then fled to Russia.

The Crimean Invasion was the beginning of the conflict in which Putin still seeks to install a government more to his liking in what is known as ‘regime change’. It is significant that Russia has done this on more than one occasion — Crimea was a vassal-state under the Czar, a Khanate under the Tatars, and a colony under the Ottomans.

Putin’s ambassador to South Africa claims Russia is merely defending the rights of Ukrainian separatists, but this has in reality, turned into an all-out war of occupation and conquest, as seen by missile salvos over Kyiv.

Since 2014, Putin has labelled any Anti-Russian opposition within Ukraine, the work of ‘Neo-Nazis’. By Putin’s own definition, instead of fleeing Russian Cossacks, my own family are Nazis since my Great Grandmother once criticised the Czar.

Putin’s pathetic claims of denazification have been shown to be totally false, the current Ukrainian President Zelensky is not only Jewish and his family Holocaust survivors, but Russia proceeded to bomb a Holocaust memorial last week and has shown no restraint in targeting civilians, including women and children, claiming that the Ukranian Defence Force are using them as ‘human shields’.

Instead of greeting the invasion with open arms, and the Russians as liberators, the Ukranians have shown fierce resistance to the aggressor.

Putin promises to purify Russia of scum who enjoy gender rights in the West

Dear Anton Harber, you’re nothing more than a Putin apologist

Dear Anton Harber,

YOU were once the editor of a weekly rag fundamentally opposed to the apartheid state. I read the Weekly Mail religiously every week, since the day it arrived on our newsstands, and followed often radical opinions, many white leftie columnists and also the writing of a sole, token black arts commentator.

In 1992 I visited your newsroom, and found to my dismay that unlike South Press, which was a veritable Rainbow Nation, the Weekly Mail was essentially an all-white newsroom, catering for academics and liberal-leftie types from Houghton.

On the strength of your paper’s success you became an adjunct professor at Wits.

In 2020 the EFF were forced to apologise for referring to you and Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki as ‘Stratcom agents’.

Absolutely nothing was said about the implications of testimony provided by one Paul Erasmus during the Timol inquest, which implicated the Weekly Mail in a disinformation campaign centering around a dirty tricks operation targeting the late Winnie Mandela, and also the struggle press.

This week, you issued an opinion piece published on News24 tackling the removal of Russia Today (RT) from Multichoice entitled: ‘Don’t silence voices to counter malicious disinformation’ in which you state:

“I dislike the Russia Today (RT) television channel because it is the propaganda tool of a dangerous and corrupt autocrat. It shows little respect for the truth, and is happy to propagate the most appalling lies. But every now and then, I would turn to it – briefly – to hear how the Russian government was seeing the world and to get an alternative – and sometimes challenging – view.”

The piece is behind a paywall, so I can’t read nor respond to the rest of your article, but it appears to place RT within the liberal ‘marketplace of ideas’, and thus merely one source of information, to which you occasionally turn to for fresh, often ‘challenging views’.

Since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last month, and following the events of 2014, and the annexation of Crimea, RT has become anything but a source of ‘challenging views’ and rather, as you appear to admit, ‘a mere propaganda instrument’ punting the alternative world-view, of the Russian plutocrat and his oligarchs — especially when it comes to reasserting Russian territorial claims over Eastern Europe.

Unlike the USA where no restrictions on speech exist, South Africa has a particular history which has resulted in constitutional limitations on freedom of expression. Thus there exist in our constitution prohibitions against hate speech, incitement of violence as well as propaganda for war.

The Pro-Putin RT evangelism and calumny around war certainly falls into this category. It begs the question why you as a professor of journalism, feel the need to apologise for it, and raises the issue of whether or not you are even qualified to deliver such an opinion?

It was Michael Osborne, one of the legal representatives actively involved in the constitutional process who reminded me of the pitfalls of claiming free speech absolutism of the type currently espoused by Elon Musk on twitter.

“Would you shout fire in a crowded theatre?” he asked, beginning what is a well-trodden philosophical argument against absolute freedom of speech.

Surely you must understand, from your years spent, apparently combating apartheid indoctrination and brainwashing, (save for your paper’s vicious campaign against Winnie Mandela), there are consequences to speech, especially when it incites a nonchalance over violence and aggression that runs contrary to our constitutional value system?

Putin has been exposed as a liar and charlatan over his reasoning for the Ukraine invasion. The bombing of a Holocaust war memorial should put paid to the idea that this has anything to do with ‘denazification’. In truth this phrase is merely a propagandistic trope used in rallying the military, rather than the basis for a factual case, and despite its use as a casus belli.

The situation is clearly not one of moral equivalence in which two equal forces are somehow locked in a relationship of equanimity in a dispute in which civilians can simply choose which side they support, as if democracy, the rule of law and the liberal marketplace of ideas prevailed.

Putin has clamped down on press freedom inside Russia, passing laws which stifle commentary on the war. Leading to the arrest of at ‘least 2,776 people’ who have been arrested for protesting in the three days since the war began.’

This news from OVD-Info, ‘a Moscow-based organization that tracks arrests linked to anti-government activities across the country’, was not reported on its website, which was “inaccessible to Russians Saturday night” but on its Telegram channel.

In a separate statement on Saturday also reported by Canada’s The Star, “Roskomnadzor announced an investigation into the reporting of numerous media organizations over their accounts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the language used to describe the offensive.”

The outlets are accused of publishing “untrue information about the shelling of Ukrainian cities and the death of civilians in Ukraine as a result of the actions of the Russian army, as well as materials in which the ongoing operation is called an attack, invasion or a declaration of war,” the statement said.

If your piece proceeds to defend journalists within Russia affected by Putin’s crackdown, then I apologise beforehand. However, I have yet to see you defend independent journalism inside the country — you certainly have remained silent when journalists such as myself are gagged by the very outlet upon which your views and opinions have been published.

I therefore reject your argument as diabolical considering the current circumstances in which Ukrainian men, women and children are being targeted by Putin’s death squads.

Sincerely yours

David Robert Lewis

Dear Ms Naledi Pandor

Dear Ms Naledi Pandor,

Your campaign to exclude the Jewish African Diaspora from the African Union refers.

That I live in a country with an egregious history of involvement and support for Hitler’s policies of mass extermination of Jews, should not have to be the starting point for a debate in South Africa. Yet, I am forced to remind you that it was then Minister of Interior, DF Malan who introduced both the Quota Act (1930) and Aliens Act (1937), restricting Jewish employment and also Jewish immigration to South Africa.

A National Party membership card of the time carries both the Swastika and the words: “The South African National Party emanates from the S.A. gentile National-Socialist movement and incorporates the said movement as also the SA Grey Shirts”.

The resulting political formation was the selfsame movement which introduced apartheid race laws defining our country’s citizens in terms of race criteria — criteria modelled upon Hitler’s own Nuremberg Laws.

Between 1933 and 1941, the Nazi policy of judenrein (cleansing of Jews) aimed to remove the German Jewish population “by making life so difficult for them that they would be forced to leave the country”. By 1938, about 150,000 German Jews, ‘had already fled the country with many Jews unable to find countries willing to take them in’.

The plight of the SS Stuttgart, a ship carrying 537 Jewish refugees is illustrative of the problem. Chartered to beat the ban imposed by the Aliens Act, it was opposed in Cape Town harbour by DF Malan’s Grey Shirts, who subsequently held several meetings on the “Jewish Problem”, addressed by HF Verwoerd and TE Donges, who exclaimed: ‘The Jew is an insoluble element in every national life.’ [1]

The Évian Conference was convened 6–15 July 1938 at Évian-les-Bains, France, to address the problem of German and Austrian Jewish refugees wishing to flee persecution by Nazi Germany. Attended by 32 countries, with South Africa apparently in observer status, our country agreed to “taking only those with close relatives already resident”, in the process condemning many of the Holocaust’s victims.

Last year Israel was granted observer status by the African Union — 46 AU Member States already have relations with Israel including our own, and the resolution has the support of a majority of its members. In so doing, the Chairperson of the AU affirmed the union’s “positive role of mediator to the conflict.”

Nevertheless South Africa’s policy towards Israel, consistent with Mandela’s bipartisan support for a two-state solution, was taken to task by the vocal Palestinian Lobby within the country. The result is that your government currently opposes the presence of Israel within the AU and now comprises a minority group of 21 nations so opposed.

A recent Constitutional Court decision (SAHRC on behalf of SAJBD v Masuku and Another) affirmed the right of Jewish South Africans to an identity which includes affinity with the State of Israel. Counsel for the SAHRC stated that the word Zionist “in the South African context means Jew because the vast majority of South African Jews are Zionist”.

Whether or not you take issue as I do with current definitions of Zionism — whether as a religious, political or secular philosophy, is beside the point.

The fact remains that Israel itself possesses a considerable African population, comprising Ethiopian and Maghrebi Jews i.e. North African Jews who are “native Jews who had traditionally lived in the Maghreb region of North Africa”, and others, comprising some 3.3% of the total population.

There also exists a sizeable population of Jews in Africa, such as the Ogoni from Ogoniland in Nigeria,​ ​Abayudaya in​ ​Uganda and Zimbabweans, who to some extent are recognised by the Orthodox Rabbinate, following completion of religious victuals, but who are otherwise discriminated against by the Israeli Beth Din.

Our own country has a relatively small Jewish diaspora, with Non-Theist Jews such as myself, a minority within a minority.

To those who persist in pursuing an abhorrent apartheid doctrine, within South Africa, for instance, by claiming all Jews should be classified as white for the purposes of population registration, but be nevertheless discriminated against when it comes to our secular rights and freedoms, I can only state, that my own children are very much Rainbows and people of color.

Instead of campaigning to remove Israel from the AU, supposedly to pressure the Israeli government when it comes to the dispute over the Final Status of Jerusalem, I suggest that your time could be better spent tackling the lack of rights and representation of black Jews within the African Union.

Instead of embarking upon a path which leads directly into a confrontation with the majority of AU members, in order to pursue a territorial conflict in which Arab states were awarded some 65% of the territory of Ottoman Palestine, only to dispute the remaining 35% awarded under the British Mandate and UN partition plan, may I suggest that you could a lot better by removing sanctions against your own citizens — unlawful sanctions against persons such as myself who do not currently possess a right to a secular identity due to the prognostications of your own political, religious and legal emirs.

Take a look at a map of Palestine supplied by the Ottoman Railway Company showing that Palestine once included what is today Southern Lebanon, parts of Syria and the East Bank of the Jordan, before you rush to defend the Anti-Semitic supercessionist movement called Hamas.

Instead of cynically expressing solidarity with a Palestinian sectarian organisation which seeks to create a ‘Palestine within Palestine’, currently lacks a Freedom Charter and which is fundamentally opposed to LGBTIQ rights, you could do far better by creating a safe and open space for both parties to the conflict to witness African Ubuntu and the democratic processes within the AU.

If you wish to raise any issues with regard to the above, please do not hesitate.

Sincerely yours,

David Robert Lewis

Notes

  1. incapable of being dissolved into a solution.

SEE: Remarks of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on the granting of observer state to the State of Israel

Tutu, a leading light of the anti-apartheid movement was no Saint

MANY eulogies following the death of Desmond Tutu exaggerate the Anglican cleric’s post-democratic contribution in the process glossing over serious shortcomings. That Tutu was a leading light in the struggle against apartheid can never be cast in doubt, and I take pride in having marched with him on the famed Cape Town Peace March (1989).

So too, the manner in which Tutu’s civil disobedience campaign tackled 80s beach apartheid and rankled the feathers of the apartheid regime with calculated showmanship and aplomb, and riled later governments.

However, the failure of the leading figure behind our nation’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to do anything tangible in defending the commission’s findings before the courts, must rank as a form of complicity in a regime he otherwise vigorously attacked. 

Primarily a theologian,Tutu’s morality turned out to be incompatible with justice, requiring that we “believe” in an intangible God, and practice Christian forgiveness instead of acting upon our convictions and dealing with reality.

In this sense, Tutu’s position, (aside from his use of satire and laughter as a weapon), was one of ‘speak out but do nothing’. Provide amnesty to those who came clean, but then go the extra mile in awarding de facto blanket amnesty to those who did not. Thus the perpetrators were let off Scott free, while apartheid’s many victims still sit outside our courts without any hope of justice.

In 2015 I filed a case before the Equality Court of South Africa, citing a similar failure by then Minister of Justice Michael Masutho to render any support in a matter affecting the status, prestige and outcome of the TRC.

Having been granted leave to sue Legal Aid SA, I ended up with a decision effectively stating inter alia that since the ‘TRC Report would take a long time to read, it may be ignored’ (see decision para 5 below). As an earlier submission by the second respondent, an apartheid-era media firm maintained, the report was ‘simply a report’ and the commission, ‘merely a commission’. Consequently Tutu was merely the leader of a Sunday School outing, not the figurehead behind our transitional justice system.

Writing this piece on Martin Luther King Day, it is clear that Tutu could have been colossal, someone after whom Holidays are named — if only he was consistent in his outlook, for instance his support of LGBTIQ+ rights and Same-Sex marriage which was entirely absent when it came to expressing solidarity with the cause of Palestinian Nationalism. A movement still opposed to LGBTIQ+ rights, and which much like our own country’s struggle, has decoupled its narrative from the reality of past injustices.

Just why this is so, is all the more poignant in the light of ​a ​UN resolution proposed by Germany and Israel aimed at combating Holocaust denial (and subsequently passed without a vote by the 193-member General Assembly), and follows the school banning of Art Speigelman’s Maus. It needs to be said, Palestinian leadership involvement in Hitler’s Final Solution​​ predated the formation of an All-Palestine government in Gaza by Amin al-Husseini.​

A foremost proponent of replacement theology, Tutu’s support of the Anglican Covenant which views the Church as the colonial inheritor of the Old Testament’s Hebrew Covenant was perhaps Tutu’s only political constancy. Thus Tutu preached Freedom for Palestinians whilst denying there was anything at fault with the Palestinian leadership which had earlier signed a pact with the Devil as it were, collaborating with none other than Adolf Hitler in pursuing a Jew-free Arab world, and campaigning as Hamas does to this day, for a world without Jews.

It was to my dismay that Tutu refused to engage with those like myself who view the ongoing conflict as a tragic case of ‘injustice vs injustice’ or to use the words of writer Amos Oz, a situation of ‘competing juridical systems’.  And thus a never-ending war being fought by adults against children.

The world is poorer for the African clerics’ prejudiced conclusions — Tutu’s failure to link the struggles of the Tibetan people with the struggles of those Palestinians who still suffer under occupation, and yet have been unable to advance their cause because of an abject failure to articulate a secular solution, one which does not negate nor deny the rights of minority religions.

Despite his insistence on meeting the Dalai Lama, amidst his government’s own intransigence on the issue, and his open support of the Ba’hai faith in Iran, Tutu paid lip-service to secularism and never managed to escape the Anglican cloister of easy homilies, cheap platitudes and hackneyed sermons that cast the Jews as simple stereotypes and the Palestinians as lost sheep in need of guidance into the greater body of Christ.

Tutu’s political sermons on the subject of the Middle East, in the absence of a Palestinian Freedom Charter, must therefore rank alongside those of earlier Popes and Bishops who painted Jews as apostates and heretics and the Jewish faith as heresy. Tutu’s astonishing failure to defend the TRC Report should be listed as one of the root causes of the current malaise affecting our society.

It is a harsh criticism I know, and may be unpalatable to some, but as the saying goes, ‘if the shoe fits, wear it’.

Sisulu steps in the proverbial ‘kakka’

FOR TWENTY years Imelda Marcos, the First Lady of the Philippines and her husband Ferdinand Marcos stole billions from the Filipino people, before they were convicted after mass protests that would later become known as the ‘People Power Revolution’. Imelda Marcos’s luxury shoe collection is said to have run into the range of thousands of branded items.

Similarly, South Africa’s ruling party has presided over state capture and massive looting under successive administrations. The party is implicated in the Zondo Report, the opening volume of which has dealt a massive blow to the credibility of the ANC, whilst MP Lindiwe Sisulu, faces opprobrium and censure from the country’s justice system for comments deflecting attention away from the findings.

In a move calculated to take the wind out of the sails of Zondo Commission by weaponising poverty to defend her position and authority, Sisulu went on the offensive this week, accusing the judiciary of being ‘mentally colonised’ and attacking the acting chief justice, and the ‘rule of law’, which she claims is merely a tool of neoliberalism.

The timing is significant and the result incredibly rich, considering the Sisulu’s are the main beneficiaries of a number of deals with the previous regime. Deals which resulted in the first black empowermenti firm, the creation of NAIL, and all leading to a round of state capture outlined here.

That there exists a link between state capture under Zuma, and the previous period of state capture under the National party, is clear and it would be remiss of me to omit to mention that this connection was neither the strict mandate nor the subject of the Zondo Commission, which focused primarily on the intrigues of the Guptas, SAA, Transnet, Nkandla and so on.

Given the extent of the looting, it was only a matter of time before the entire corrupt enterprise involving the siphoning off of state funds, under the guise of ANC deployment of cadres to the corporate sector, positioning of political representatives within the commanding heights of the economy, and attempts to rig legal proceedings, began to unravel, in one big awkward mess. A bewildering array of graft allegations has resulted in unprecedented attacks against democratic institutions becoming the order of the day, and include the torching of the national assembly by persons known and unknown.

Instead of empowering ordinary South Africans and seeking to move our country forward under democratic rule, it turns out that the inner circle of the ANC merely wished to step into the boots of the National Party, gaining a seat at the table of crookedness as it were. One can no longer remain silent in the face of thinly veiled attempts to disguise the result as a ‘people’s revolution’ or to sugar-coat the consequences as ‘radicalism’ or ‘opposition to capital’.

Like the removal of the Marcos Gang in the Philipines, it is going to take a lot more than a simple ‘democratic revolution’ to deal with the consequences. SA desperately needs its own Corazon Aquino, the  prominent figure of the 1986 Philippines Revolt, which ended the two-decade rule of President Ferdinand Marcos.

As I write this piece, government-sponsored propagandists continue to scapegoat our constitutional democracy alongside the justice system instead of answering the question, why it is that the ruling party has failed the people of this country?

History buffs may find another comparison, that of Angola’s Isabel dos Santos equally enlightening.

Dear Haidar Eid, author of ‘Open Letter from Palestine to Miss South Africa”

Dear Haidar Eid,

We don’t know each other. I only know that your name is Haider Eid and just heard of your name this month, when your letter written in response to Miss South Africa’s attendance at the Miss Universe pageant held at the Port of Eilat, on the Southern Negev desert and Red Sea, appeared on social media.

I understand the area was once named Umm Al-Rashrash, and designated as part of the Jewish state in the 1947 UN Partition Plan, and at the time, apparently ‘consisted of one or two police huts’, and was formally granted to Israel in the 1949 Armistice Agreements.

You claim the area was ‘ethnically-cleansed’ and the result is an ‘apartheid state’, and that you, at the very outset, are somehow an expert on the subject of apartheid, since you “spent six years in South Africa” where you apparently received a “Ph.D. degree and even citizenship”.

If indeed you have doctoral qualifications on the subject, (or are reading for a Ph.d ) then you will understand that not one Palestinian was arraigned by the apartheid state on treason charges, and that Jews, including Zionists, overwhelmingly contributed to the struggle for freedom. The fate for example of Arthur Goldreich, one of the 13 Jewish treason trialists in 1956 is illustrative of the diverse cross-section of Jews who were imprisoned for their belief that ‘all humans are created equal’.

As a humble dissident with merely an undergraduate degree conferred by the UCT Centre for African Studies (see below), I find absolutely no evidence of any tangible support for the struggle within South Africa from either the PLO/Fatah or Hamas, but rather observe that Nelson Mandela was very much a supporter of self-determination for both parties to the conflict. It was Mandela who explained his position on the Ted Koppel show:

“We identify with the PLO because just like ourselves, they are fighting for the right of self-determination. I went further however to say, that the support for Yasser Arafat and his struggle does not mean that the ANC has ever doubted the right of Israel to exist as a state, legally. We have stood quite openly and firmly for the right of that state to exist within secure borders.”

Far from delaying liberation from the racist regime as you suggest, I believe Mandela meant that South Africa’s unique expression of human rights and freedom as enshrined in the Freedom Charter and our constitution, would invariably be delayed by the failure of Israel and Palestine to come to a similar accord, and that it was incumbent upon our country to do everything possible to assist the resulting peace settlement?

I therefore challenge you as a Gazan, to meet the liberal values of our constitution, or to provide at very least, a similar Freedom Charter including support for women rights and LGBTIQ+ rights in your future Palestinian State?

You claim to “live in the Gaza concentration camp which has been under a medieval siege imposed by apartheid Israel since 2007.”

There is no conclusive definition of the use of apartheid in this context as anything more than an analogy — a highly flawed UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report for instance, examining the policies of Israel within the context of apartheid was withdrawn by UN Secretary-general Guterres in 2017, while the Goldstone report was similarly retracted in part. You as an ‘associate professor of literature’, should know the term ‘concentration camp’ is ordinarily applied to emergency measures to keep civilians concentrated inside a designated area within national borders, not outside national borders.

Since the UN refuses to recognise Gaza as anything more than an extension of Israeli territory, despite its disengagement and withdrawal in 2005, I can understand why you may be less than academic in your use of the definition, and are surely upset at being used as a pawn in an obvious power-play over territory claimed for the future ‘State of Palestine’?

Be that as it may, the fact remains that you still share a border with Egypt, a country which you ignore, perhaps due to its peace treaty with Israel? Gaza, though denied access to Israel proper, is not surrounded by the Jewish state in anything resembling a “medieval siege”. In this sense your siege is metaphorical, rather than literal, in the same way your use of the term apartheid, is merely analogous, and not substantive.

For the record, no inhabitants of any of the former apartheid bantustans ever complained of being under occupation, nor lamented about living in ‘concentration camps’, an emotive and tragic term, given the Palestinian leadership’s attendance at the 1942 Wannsee Conference where Hitler’s Final Solution was formerly adopted, and where Zionists were sent to the gas chambers alongside Non-Zionists.

Similarly, the “All-Palestine” government which ruled Gaza from 1948 -1958 was not created by Israel, but rather the Arab League. Unlike the apartheid-era bantustans, the current Hamas government is not a puppet of Tel Aviv.

Nothwithstanding, one must and should express support and sympathy for the children of Gaza who suffer needlessly from malnutrition as the result of the policies of politicians. As I have long maintained, when it comes to the Middle East, this is a war being fought by adults against children, in a situation of injustice vs injustice.

It is saddening to hear that “the 2 million people living in the strip do not have access to electricity, clean water, medicine”. I however fail to grasp your need and desire for Israeli consumer goods? As you may know, there is a waning boycott of Israeli consumer goods in my country, as well as an arms embargo.

Whither the cultural boycott?

That you appear to go the extra mile in demanding at the very outset a cultural boycott, in this instance, a boycott of a Miss Universe pageant, is highly problematic for a number of reasons, the least of which is the failure, or rather the inability of BDS and its proponents, to distinguish between Zionists and Non-Zionists, in the same manner that many Palestinians fail to appreciate the difference between Theist and non-Theists.

Given the religious and cultural issues surrounding contemporary Jewish secular identity, and the de facto banning of my Jewishness (as opposed to other’s official religion) I can only speak from my own experience.

Despite my early academic journey, in which I, at one time, provided unconditional support for the Palestinian struggle, only to experience campus exclusions, academic sanctions and bannings of anti-apartheid organisations, (you can read my response to Seth Rogen here) I was nevertheless, and despite my beliefs and outlook, subjected to an obscene, racist religious inquisition by South Africa’s corrupt legal authorities in 2010 — resulting in a complete reappraisal and alteration of my position — the more so, when it comes to contemporary post-Enlightenment, democratic values.

I have noticed that when it comes to women and gay rights, Palestinian leadership fails miserably. According to Amnesty International, women in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority continue to face discrimination and violence, including killings as a result of gender-based violence. An Hamas-run Islamic court in the Gaza Strip ruled in February that women require the permission of a male guardian to travel.

On the ‘moderate side’, President Mahmoud Abbas amended an election law in March, raising a quota for women in the West Bank, Palestinian Authority legislature to 26%, ‘not the promised 30%’. This is still a far cry from the 50% female quotient of the population, and the result devalues women.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, & transgender (LGBTIQ+) persons in the “State of Palestine” face legal challenges and discrimination not experienced by non-LGBTIQ+ residents. The Amnesty 2020 report on Palestine states: “Section 152 of the Penal Code in Gaza criminalizes [male] consensual same-sex sexual activity and makes it punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.” In 2019, the Palestinian Authority police banned the activities of queer and feminist rights organization Al Qaws and demanded that residents report ‘suspicious’ activities.

Several reports on the subject of so-called Israel Apartheid have been discredited in recent years, since clearly nations are not races. While ethnicity plays a part, there is no science to back up the claim.

Sincerely Yours,

David Robert Lewis

Dissident, living in a Free “Secular” Country.

SEE: Miss SA: Mind the gender gap, Mr Roper

SEE: KENNETH MOKGATLHE: GOVT OWES MISS SA AN APOLOGY FOR WITHDRAWING ITS SUPPORT

SEE: Written statement submitted by United Nations Watch, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status