RAMAPHOSA GAFFE: A River too Far?

FOR some it was merely a ‘gaffe’, an awkward ‘statement that many regard as anti-Israel’, for others it was a ‘river too far’, a red line in the sand marked Antisemitism.

In many countries such as the UK and Germany, the phrase ‘from the River to the Sea’, is banned outright due to its falling within working definitions of Antisemitism proposed by the IHRA.

‘The River’ chants association with a listed jihadist terror group Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya aka HAMAS, merely bolsters this view. The organization long stated ambition, before the liberation of the City they refer to as Quds, is the total annihilation of the state of Israel — the replacement of the Jewish State by an Islamic state ‘from the River to the Sea.’ .

For a country, South Africa whose stated policy has traditionally been one of tolerance and support for a two-state solution, President Ramaphosa appeared to be signalling a shift away from the bipartisanship associated with the Mandela era —  towards the hard-liners in his party, who by implication favour the imposition of an authoritarian, clerical regime under Sharia law. 

Mandela who is often misquoted on the subject, had long recognised the rights of both states to coexist, stating in 1990: “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.”

It is near impossible to see how any of the ruling parties current stated policies square up nor even coincide with the policies espoused by the  Jihadists in Gaza.

Abolition of independent trade unions, limitation of women’s rights, jailtime for LGBTQ, a ‘final battle between Muslims and Jews’, are certainly not policies one would wish to see on a party-political platform in the week before a national election, but the ANC has been going down this annhiliationist road for decades.  It is a partner in a coalition in Johannesburg whose far-right anchor party Al Jam-ah, represents precisely such values — an undermining and eventual replacement of progressive ideas which underpin our constitution with Sharia law.

The reality of the conflict in which so-called moderates rank as impossible conservatives who would probably turn a blind eye to public beheadings, and stonings,  as is the case in Iran, leaves one at a loss as to the way forward?

Holding out for a Fatah victory when Hamas have turned into the political movers and shakers on the world stage appears to be a losing proposition.

Hamas have shown that not only are they able to eliminate  their opposition, but are able to absorb many of the elements which make Fatah the more palatable side of Palestinianism. Yesterday they were able to launch a salvo of rockets at Tel Aviv at the same time as they lured the IDF into Rafah with an associating cost on civilian life.

While some may see South Africa’s case before the ICJ (ostensibly brought to limit casualties) as truly heroic, the attempt to intervene politically may yet backfire, at least if our government fails to draw any guidance from the ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan’s recent indictment of Hamas leaders Sinwar, Deif, Haniyeh (see here)

South Africa’s presumed policy of non-alignment is also dangerously beginning to resemble all out partisan support of any terror group associated with the conflict, which risks further antagonising the West.

I think readers know well what needs to be stated here: if you still believe Jews and Palestinians to be ‘separate and distinct race groups’,  you may yet be correct in your analysis of the parallels between our own struggle and the struggle for Palestinian Statehood, but if like me, you reject the entire notion that nations can ever be considered ‘races’, then you may suffer from a wrong diagnosis, and be dispensing the wrong medication to the wrong patient?

Note: Read my earlier pieces debunking the apartheid analogy here, or traverse a page debunking many of the myths associated with the Jerusalem conflict. If that doesn’t get your goat, then read my defense of Secularism in preceding posts.

READ: Salman Rushdie says a Palestinian state formed today would be ‘Taliban-like’

South Africa’s Cherry-picking Genocide case before the International Courts

IN 2016 South African Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Michael Masutha confirmed during a media briefing that South Africa had submitted to the United Nations (UN) its ‘notice of intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC)’

Readers should note here, the ICC decides cases involving individuals while the International Court of Justice (ICJ) hears cases between states.

The timing of the South African Government’s withdrawal decision may have been prompted by wanting to be the first country to withdraw from the International Court structure. “At the time, several states were considering doing so,” writes law scholar Jeremy Sarkin.

“Withdrawing could therefore have been done then as a means to show some leadership to other African countries (Burundi, Gambia) that were also considering this option.”

The ICC announcement followed an embarrassing episode in which the African Union found itself divided over the refusal or failure of “Uganda, Chad, Kenya, Djibouti, Malawi, Congo, South Africa, and Egypt to be involved in detaining and surrendering President Al Bashir to the ICC”. The court itself was accused of “hunting” African leaders “to the exclusion of any other head of state or government official elsewhere in the Global North.” The ICC categorically denied any accusations of “partiality”, arguing that the sum of African cases referred to the Court has “more to do with the Court’s jurisdiction being limited to states parties to the Rome Statute, and for crimes committed after 2002.”

In the end it took a High Court judgement to scupper such plans — delivered on 22 February 2017, the decision of the North Gauteng High Court criticised the Government’s conduct, declaring ‘unconstitutional and invalid’ the executive’s decision to deliver to the UN South Africa’s notice of withdrawal from the ICC, and ordered the Government to ‘rescind with immediate effect’ the said notice. “On 13 March 2017, the Justice Minister, in compliance with the court order, gave notice to Parliament that he was revoking the bill that, if signed into law, would have officially decreed the divorce, and severed the almost 20-year-old tie between South Africa and the ICC.”

Enter the SA-Israel-Gaza case

This week a team of South African jurists lead by Professor John Dugard, filed a case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague alleging that Israeli action inside Gaza ‘amounted to the crime of genocide’. The application “concerns acts threatened, adopted, condoned, taken and being taken by the Government and military of the State of Israel against the Palestinian people, a distinct national, racial (sic) and ethnical (sic) group, in the wake of the attacks in Israel on 7 October 2023″

South Africa claims that it ‘unequivocally condemns all violations of international law by all parties, including the direct targeting of Israeli civilians and other nationals and hostage-taking by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.” And “no armed attack on a State’s territory no matter how serious — even an attack involving atrocity crimes — can, however, provide any possible justification for, or defence to, breaches of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

It is an astonishing allegation considering the ongoing rocket attacks on Israeli civilian centres by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and the timing of the massacre, which occurred on the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, on the religious holiday of Simchat Torah.

South Africa further claims a ‘moral duty’ to bring the application before the court (a duty entirely absent where the ANC is concerned when it came to actioning on an ICC warrant for the arrest of Omar al-Bashir, convicted for the 2009 Darfur Genocide), and proceeds to outline a tragedy involving the ensuing war and events of the past months. The litany of horror is indeed sobering and cause for alarm.

The application is historically significant since it effectively brings one of the oldest ongoing conflicts, under the auspices of international structures, institutions created in the aftermath of the Nuremberg Trials which followed World War Two and the creation of the United Nations. In this respect, any attempt, no matter how misguided, to resolve and mediate matters, providing a path to peace without resorting to outright war and murder of civilians, is worthy of support — unfortunately as already alluded to, the case is flawed for a number of reasons which will be outlined in brief below:

1. Nations are not races — neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians comprise a distinct racial group, as such — to put this another way, wearing a Keffiyeh or Yarmulke is no indication of one’s alleged ‘race’ — there are black and white Arabs on both sides to the conflict, and the issues at hand, especially with regard to the status of Jerusalem appear to be religious in nature. (please read my piece debunking racialisation of the conflict here)

2. While the case begins by condemning the actions of both parties, it then proceeds to outline what is in effect a casus belli in favour of the Palestinians and their own motivations for armed struggle. Thus the October Simchat Torah attacks are provided with a sheen of legitimacy via an historical association with South Africa’s armed struggle, albeit an expression of solidarity, if not outright support of Jihad. (One should note that Mandela was a bipartisan on the issue supporting the rights of both parties). The religious war is cast by Dugard et al as nothing more than self-defense, in the face of a secular Nakba (a nationalistic catastrophe not entirely of the Palestinian’s own making). In this view Israel’s reaction in whatever form, whether via a blockade of the Jihadists or bombing of Gaza and its tunnel networks, is condemned as entirely disproportionate — motivated by malice instead of rockets and pure survival.

3. Although the application is at pains to reiterate UN condemnation of the annexation of East Jerusalem and settlements following the 1967 war, it fails to acknowledge UN Resolution 181 which partitioned the former British territory and created Israel in the first instance, and thus both the UN and Mandela’s support of the status quo of Israel’s existence, which Hamas and the ‘Palestinians’ for the most part, oppose. This cherry-picking of issues and one-sided irredentist narrative, cast within legal terms, is pretty much par for the course amongst those who support the de facto return of the Palestine colony “from the River to the Sea” and who deny the events which lead up to the creation of the Israeli state.

4. More significantly, the application painfully ignores the role played by the ‘President of the All-Palestine Government in Gaza’ (1948-1956) Amin al-Husseini in promoting and furthering a policy known as the ‘Final Solution’, following his participation in the 1941 Farhud in MENA, which resulted in an actual genocide. One has merely to pose the question of what problem was the ‘Final Solution’ seeking to solve in order to discover the primary subject of the 1938 Evian Conference, a tragic moment in which world powers, and later South Africa under Jan Smuts, deliberated on the very issue of the flood of Jewish refugees flowing into British Palestine and elsewhere. As German philosopher Immanuel Kant had once put it, ‘there are Palestinians amongst us’, he was however referring to the ‘Jews of Europe’.

Set aside the tragic drama of the October ‘Simchat Torah attack’, the Israeli declaration of war, the professed motivations for self-defense by either party, the resulting military intervention, alongside the catastrophic, forced movement of the Gazan population, (which have included the bombing of civilian centres, and casualties which include journalists, medical staff, and children, all very real humanitarian issues) and one cannot help but come to the conclusion that the entire world, would have been in a better position if it had acted to prevent this disaster at the outset — if more care was taken to debating both sides instead of negating either party — and if South Africa had acted sooner by supporting the ICC in stopping prior acts of genocide in Darfur and elsewhere in Yemen and Syria.

In this respect our country deserves to be taken to task for an historical failure, the lack of will to support multilateral institutions, in particular the recent undermining of the UN with regard to the General Assembly censure of the Russia-Ukraine war. The South African case would be a lot firmer if our country were able to claim a moral high ground, on the basis of legal principle and foreign policy evenly applied. If we were able to lodge our opposition to war in all its forms and by implication a defense of our pacifist constitution, instead of cherry picking issues and taking sides, shifting with the tide of public opinion.

READ: ICJ Gaza genocide case: South Africa set to discover law of unintended consequences

READ: Why are we going to the International Court of Justice?

READ: Irwin Cotler: South Africa is inverting reality by accusing Israel of genocide

Open letter to IOL’s Lance Witten,

Dear Lance Witten,

Your Editorial refers

A delusion is an unshakeable belief in something that’s untrue. You could call the Israeli government right wing and even extremists, and the status quo highly problematic (and take a non-binary approach) but you cannot call, the rape and murder of over 260 innocent civilians at an outdoor dance party, and the taking of hostages at the Nova Peace Festival, on the Weekend, the result of a ‘just cause’. 

During apartheid, if there was any doubt as to the modus of our struggle, we could point to a Freedom Charter, a secular document outlining human rights as the basis for our resistance. There is no similar document in existence amongst any of the opposing parties — neither Fatah nor Hamas. At no point during our struggle did any cleric nor religious authority provide a blank cheque. The ends do not justify the means here, and one has got to question the credibility of the bald assumptions being made by people who should know better? 

It is not helpful to bemoan Islamic fundamentalism, but in the same breath to continue to pursue equivocation after equivocation, the likes of which are demonstrated by a Hamas spokesperson on Sky News claiming that ‘no civilians have been killed by Hamas’ over the Weekend because the organisation has redefined civilians as ‘enemy combatants’. 

Shani Louk, a German-Israeli tattoo artist, captured at the Nova Sukkot Peace Festival, whose body was paraded naked through the streets of Gaza, is an example of the depravity of a political movement which until 2017 saw its goal as the ”elimination of all Jews wherever they may be found, and subsequently ‘all Zionists’. The attack on an outdoor music festival has demonstrated this group are the equivalent of ISIS in outlook, banning electronic music festivals within Gaza, imprisoning LGBT, and reducing the status of women to mere objects. 

The distinction drawn between Zionist and Non-Zionist has turned out to be both unsustainable and discriminatory. My own choices in this matter have been removed by an ecclesiastical case, reducing my identity to nothing more than stereotype and caricature, my rights expunged by zealous moral policing by South Africa’s own corrupt legal authorities. It is not a trivial matter that judges such as Siraj Desai openly support Hamas.

My country is currently a member of an economic block that recently concluded an agreement with Iran, a state which desires nothing more than the removal of Israel from the map, alongside advocacy of the death penalty for LGBT and ‘moral opposition’ to electronic beat music. In the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Iranian government ‘turned pop music into forbidden fruit, condemning it as indecent’.

I currently do not possess the right to a legal personality, based upon equality, privacy and freedom of religion, which in my case entails freedom from the religious views of others, this within the borders of South Africa, my home. I therefore challenge you to openly debate your perverse ‘just war’ thesis and especially the so-called apartheid analogy

Behold, I am Malema the Mighty, bow before my absolutist, authoritarian glory

AS EFF SUPREMO Julius Malema rose from the decks of an elevator platform within the FNB soccer stadium, showered with pop-star confetti before 94 000 of his supporters, he was echoing another stadium-size political event which had occurred in Russia to mark the anniversary of an authoritarian — Vladimir Putin’s ‘special military operation’ celebration in Moscow.

Like the dictator Putin, Malema views himself as the prodigal heir to a former colonial Empire. In many respects the two politicos are cut from the same cloth — Juju as he is often affectionately known — is an ardent fan of policies which have seen war resisters imprisoned, gay rights activists jailed, and media outlets banned.

The well-orchestrated EFF fanfare came barely a week since his party platformed an openly misogynist, and homophobic speaker, Prof PLO Lumumba.

Amidst the sheen of festive excess to mark the party’s 10th anniversary, a thin veneer of Africanism and decolonial rhetoric faceted over Malema’s ultra-nationalist policies, which would entail wholesale nationalisation, ‘expropriation of land without compensation’, and seizure of businesses and property at the behest of reracialisation, ‘revolution and revenge’ against white citizens.

The circus event touting a command economy — another self-abnegating Marxist dynasty much like North Korea’s Kim dynasty — occurred within the oval of a stadium sponsored by a large South African financial institution — one of several which the grandiloquent leader wants to nationalise. It is one of many contradictory policy facts ignored by Malema’s critics, who also point out the party, which claims membership of 1 million supporters, represents barely a 3rd of the country’s over 30-million electorate.

Still, the third largest political grouping in South Africa, borrowed heavily from Putin’s United Russia Party and its contempt for the media, and has sought funding from oligarchs such as Adriano Mazzotti, a confessed tobacco smuggler, seemingly immune from prosecution under the current government.

Leading a chant of “Kill the Boer” a song which has “sparked pushback in both South Africa and the United States“, most notably from South African-born billionaire Elon Musk, reignited debate about a “controversial decades-old tune that dates back to the struggle against apartheid”.

It is doubtful whether the threatening words are appropriate to peacetime and the 21st century? Such criticism was however met with derision from across the spectrum of black social media, with many persons of colour, eager to normalise the equivalent of waving around the old Republic flag.

Yet Malema’s open endorsements of the violent sentiments behind the fringe song popularised by the late Peter Mokaba — which is anything but metaphorical in this context, nor even lyrical for that matter — is uncomfortably close to an outright call for civil war, and needs to be seen against his earlier statements this year, urging followers to ‘not be afraid of murdering in the name of revolution’.

Later at an amply funded black-tie shindig, sponsored by his right-wing capitalist associates (read fawning opportunists), Malema sung the praises of erstwhile and current benefactors, whilst cautioning his guests that he was ‘ruthless when it came to dissent within the ranks of his own party.’

The comments were apparently aimed at his second-in-command Floyd Shivambo.

Reflections on Freedom & Workers Day 2023

FREEDOM DAY is a monument to majority rule under an inclusive democratic system that relegated previous attempts to segregate the franchise according to skin colour. We no longer have to look over our shoulders for the special branch, nor worry about spooks under our beds, and any comparisons with the apartheid regime immediately demonstrate that we are a far more open, transparent and freer society than people like BJ Vorster and JG Strydom could ever have imagined.

But for all the blather over the weekend, speech after speech on worker’s rights and the ruling party’s suppose success in ruling, our President came across like a maître d’ asylum, the manager of a mental ward covering up for the lateness in supplying the main course to a bunch of rowdy inmates — economic freedom (read equal opportunity) is so past overdue that it would not an overstatement, if I remarked, ‘the dish is already cold’ — practically any party promising alternatives to the failed ‘developmental model’ being offered up as the sole option on the table by the ANC, has a pretty good chance at it, come the 2024 general election.

This past 12 months have seen a veritable smorgasbord of trouble besetting the party, which which like the NP ‘volkscapitalisme‘ — sheltered employment and state maximalism of yore — has become synonymous with the fate of the country, leading many to assume a permanent mandate, as if our nation’s mixed economy were under command much like China and its CCP, and our destiny is to be ranked, not alongside democracy but the rather the autocracies of the world.

From the release (attempted burial) of the Zondo Report, to the Phala Phala story (equally discarded), and now several fresh debacles, including revelations of organised criminal syndicates at Eskom, the attempt to wiggle out of an ICC Putin arrest warrant by dumping the Rome Statutes, the equally spineless attempt to dodge commitments made under the UN IFCC climate arrangement, the embarrassing February military exercises on the anniversary of the Ukraine invasion ( greylisting for money laundering the same day), the withdrawal of an invitation to attend the Tokyo G7, the prognosis for the ruling party, if not the nation, seems rather bleak

Remembering how from afar, I watched the 1994 event, casting my first vote in Beverley Hills, Los Angeles, nogal alongside other expat South Africans, many of them exiles and refugees, the day nevertheless still brings tears of joy to my eye, but more often than not I find myself sobbing these days at the deprivation caused by the ruling party, levelling down instead of levelling up.

The South Africa to which I returned may yet be a vastly different country to the one I left, but in many significant ways, things are very much the same here — corrupt politicians, crooked political parties, well-orchestrated graft, crass state largess and siphoning of funds. The ANC from this vantage point looks no better than the previous regime and one can only hope the party will be removed from office in a spectacular way, if only to learn from its mistakes instead of operating under the false assumption of manifest destiny.

Organised crime, Eskom monopoly, De Ruyter en Swart.

ALARMING accounts of several crime syndicates operating within Eskom have arrived on the heels of similar findings made by the Zondo ‘Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector including Organs of State’. Judge Raymond Zondo’s investigation is outlined in Volume 4, and two parts, aptly named Eskom 1 and Eskom 2.

The content should not simply regale the public with shenanigans surrounding the appointment of the 2014 board, the manner in which Brian Molefe and Mr Anoj Singh acted to assist the Gupta’s and ultimately former president Jacob Zuma, to unlawfully benefit from various Eskom contracts. Rather it should have lead to earnest self-reflection, mass action and debate within our Parliament.

Unfortunately, our daily press failed to report on the Zondo Commission Report in a manner befitting the gravity of the commission and the seriousness of its findings. One would have expected pages and pages, not simply columns narrating the facts in both chapter and verse to the public, alongside screaming headlines that characterised the 1977 Muldergate and Information Scandal which implicated then Prime Minister, B. J. Vorster.

The reduction of our paper-thin media to mere summarisation alongside anecdotal reporting and casual opinion, — where details and facts get lost under bullets and straplines, buzzwords and talk-points that essentially lead nowhere — is a minor tragedy of our age. The newsrooms which broke the Muldergate and Information Scandal are long gone. In their stead are paid sycophants, centralised editorial and lowered credibility.

It was only a matter of time before the bubble of public credulousness generated in this manner, would burst. All it took was for Eskom CEO André de Ruyter to spill the beans in a national television interview. Despite attempts by political commissars and conspiracy theorists on the ground to spin this story into a mere ‘tale of privatisation by stealth’, and worse, ‘right-wing posturing’, de Ruyter hit back with a damning Affidavit implicating the ruling party, and backed up by sworn statements by Eskom employees.

I encourage readers to listen to the audio below, in which a Daily Maverick journo refers to the cartels and a ‘territorial ruler’ currently under investigation.

IOL peddling ‘alternative facts’ as decuplets shortlisting axed

INDEPENDENT MEDIA has sought to reframe its fraudulent ‘decuplet scoop’, within a narrative of human trafficking. Not only is the health department pursuing charges, but the latest attempt to insert authority into the storyline by gaining a nomination for its own ‘miniseries’ on the subject, which is nothing more than a sad repackaging of events, appears to have fallen flat, after the organisers were alerted by SANEF.

“After the Inma awards competition shortlist was made public on March 8, certain concerns were brought to our attention regarding a social media campaign promoting a baby trade story in South Africa.

“Inma understands how important trust is to news media. The shortlist process can be, and in this instance has been, used to provide additional information which the judges had no access to at the time of judging. 

“Given the opportunity to review information from all parties related to the concerns raised, our international judges have reconsidered the entry, and it is no longer a finalist. We respect the jury’s decision.

That the owners of a nation-wide daily news outlet saw fit to ignore an internal review of the fictional story promoted as fact, by Pretoria News editor Piet Rampedi must surely rate as an abuse of the public trust? Instead of coming clean, and apologising for the lack of editorial oversight, IOL doubled-down, calling the SANEF position, ‘vindictive’.

That they now seek to legitimise the baldfaced lies and outright falsehood by creating promotional works which are clearly in the realm of propaganda, and should hardly be considered publicity and public relations, must raise questions as to the role of the company in claiming to generate news. As the saying goes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, not a sorry attempt to provide plausibility with what looks like a first-year video project produced by a journalism cadet.

Over the past weeks, Medialternatives has noticed the appearance of a plethora of paid propaganda pieces relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, stemming from questionable sources, such as Russian, Chinese and Iranian state media. It is clear that Independent believe they are able to promote the ravings of an autocrat and dictator in Moscow, whilst pushing for South African support of an emerging Anti-Democratic nexus surrounding the Eurasian despot.

We urge readers to be wary of where they gain their sources of information.

LETTER: The DA is becoming the poster child of the Right, refers

Dear Ed


The DA is becoming the poster child of the Right, (Mail & Guardian 18 October 2021) refers


Steven Friedman claims to be a ‘political scientist’. Though his career and professorship may appear to chart a course within South Africa’s academic establishment, he merely demonstrates the parochialism which reigns at these institutions.

A case in point is the manner in which Friedman has taken it upon himself to be the ‘pre-eminent analyst within the country of the British Labour Party (BLP)’

I write this letter, not to take issue with the professor’s opinions on the Democratic Alliance, but rather to point out the manner in which the man’s criticism of local politics has descended into a false and misleading indictment of the BLP. 

That Friedman cannot distinguish between the polices of either the Tories nor Labour for that matter, and thus conflate both parties with the Democratic Alliance (DA), is par for the course. More alarming, is his general thesis on ​”current campaigns against ‘antisemitism’ in Western Europe and the United States​” —  campaigns which he alleges are not aimed at racial and religious bigotry, but are rather ‘quite the opposite of their stated intentions’.

​In his latest piece he states​: ​“Power holders who not so long ago were keeping Jews out of clubs and limiting their number at universities claim to be so angered at anti-Jewish prejudice that they have passed laws to prevent it. But this is not a newfound non-racialism. The campaign is really about protecting the Israeli state, which has become a favourite among the bigoted – including some who really are antisemites – because it discriminates against Palestinians. Conveniently, branding supporters of Palestinian rights as racists can also be used to hound left-wingers out of the British Labour Party. To oppose racist treatment of Palestinians is to be branded a racist.​”​

The ‘left-wingers’ he refers to are none other than past BLP leader Jeremy Corbyn and his allied supporters. Friedman’s blatantly dishonest account of the matter has been previously published in New Frame.
Lies about Corbyn surely deserve a careful examination of the truth?

When the Equality and Human Rights Commission report into anti-Semitism in Corbyn’s Labour party was released, it was damning, writes Jay Elwes in The Article. “Facing allegations of anti-Jewish racism, the report said Corbyn’s Labour was “responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” in an attempt to counter and dismiss those claims.”

The report found there were ‘three especially egregious breaches of the Equalities Act’, including: Political interference in anti-Semitism complaints; a failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints; and harassment.

This is a far cry from Friedman’s ​fanciful version of events.​

According the Friedman, not only was there no evidence of anti-Semitism inside the British Labour Party, but ‘the closest (the report) comes to finding that anti-Jewish racism is a problem in Labour is the claim that some in the party use “antisemitic tropes” and say that “complaints of antisemitism [are] fake or smears”.

Corbyn was thus an innocent ‘victim of a trick’, he claims, one which ‘has been used for years in the United States and here to portray racial redress as racist. Less well known is that it is now used to paint opponents of racism as antisemites, people who despise Jews.

That Friedman was ignoring serious complaints made on the left regarding harassment of members of the Jewish Labour Movement (an anti-racist group) which had resulted in 7 MPs including Chuka Umunna, a black MP leaving the party last year is clear.

He thus continues to trot out a well-known criticism of the right, (‘mere tropes’) in an attempt to smear ‘black Labour’, as hopelessly tied to Israel, while promoting Corbyn’s reinstatement as leader of the party.

The only trick here is Friedman’s own chicanery and mendacity in attributing race to Jews and thus reducing all adherents to Judaism, to the status of simulacra. People who ‘look like they could be Jews’.

It is a common tactic of race-obsessed critics to focus attention on ‘Jews of European origin’, whilst forgetting there is a mosaic of difference within the Jewish diaspora, which includes inter alia Jews of Ethiopian, Nigerian and South African origin. Nations are not races, and rather the issue here is one of ethnicity.

In 2018 I wrote an open letter to Friedman questioning his apparent expertise on the subject of Jewish identity, his neglect of issues relating to secularism, and the problem of ‘who gets to decide who is Jewish or not?’ He failed to respond and continues to issue forth with blatantly false allegations, allegations which have not been tested in any court.

I have only to reiterate my own experience with racism and Anti-Semitism at Media24, to demonstrate, the lay issues at stake, have absolutely nothing to do with Zionism per se, nor the tedious opinions formulated by shoddy academics, over whether or not a Palestinian or Jewish State has a right to exist (why not?). But rather the manner in which open debate on the subject of Jewish secular identity in general and Anti-Semitism in particular, is circumscribed and defined by self-appointed political apparatchiks such as Friedman.

As Thomas Jefferson once stated: ‘I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.’

South Africa is a secular state with a “We, the People’ constitution. The phrase “In humble submission to almighty, God” was removed from earlier drafts of the constitution, and is a well-established narrative recorded by Judge Albie Sachs.


Kind regards


David Robert Lewis

[Letter unpublished]

SEE: Labour of Hate

Kasrils debunked, I no longer believe in the Middle East

THE WRITINGS of Ronnie Kasrils, SACP central committee member 1986-2007, propagandist and former Minister of Intelligence under Mbeki, require the same stringency of analysis as that of Israel Finkelstein, a critic of the Bible. Finkelstein has long been accused of being a biblical minimalist, “someone who believes that only a bare minimum of the Bible is historically trustworthy”, and maintains the book was ‘essentially the work of`a creative copywriter‘ to advance an ideological agenda.

For starters, Kasrils recent opinion piece published by the Daily Maverick may be seen as an amateurish attempt to rehash the work of Shlomo Sand, who seeks to replace Zionism with Canaanism. In other words, the belief that the land of Canaan, referred to in the Bible existed, and further, was the central narrative, before the Romans arrived on the scene, only to quash the Bar Kokhba revolt, a revolt not of Hebrews but rather Canaanites. 

Sand has been taken to task for presenting “dubious theories” regarding Jewish identity as historical facts. His controversial claim that Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Khazars, who purportedly converted in the early Middle Ages, has been debunked by Shaul Stampfer in the Journal of Jewish Social Studies.

Stampfer found no reliable source for the claim that the Khazars – a multiethnic kingdom that included Iranians, Turks, Slavs and Circassians – converted to Judaism. “There never was a conversion by the Khazar king or the Khazar elite,” he said. “The conversion of the Khazars is a myth with no factual basis.”

Daniel Lazare writing on Sand, in the ‘London Review of Books’  disagrees and says: “The Invention of the Jewish People eagerly trumpets the discovery of the archaeologist Israel Finkelstein, the foremost proponent of the new archaeology, that the conquest of Canaan never occurred and that the dual monarchy of David and Solomon, supposedly the wonder of the ancient world, was a myth. “

“But Sand also endorses the hyper-sceptical ‘biblical minimalism’ of Philip Davies, Thomas Thompson and Niels Peter Lemche, which regards such findings as irrelevant since, as they see it, the early history of Israel is actually a fiction that returnees from the Babylonian exile made up after the sixth century BCE.”

Lazare goes on to say: “Sand seems unaware of the conflict between the two views or of the fact that Finkelstein and the journalist Neil Asher Silberman issued a stinging rebuttal of the minimalist stance in 2006”

It may also be been shown that Sand’s ideas are borrowed from other sources, for example, a work published 5 years earlier by Hassan Bash, which claims to have ‘scientifically proven that the Jews of today do not descend from ancient Israel stock’ in the process repeating many racialised ideas about the Jewish people, also evident in Nazi literature.

In the same way Arthur Koestler deserves credit for his 1976 book ‘The Thirteenth Tribe‘, a hypothetical work, whose stated intent was ‘to make antisemitism disappear by disproving its racial basis.’

Despite the controversy, and the rush to displace history, Kasrils like many of today’s armchair historians, fail to note the state of Syria-Palaestina was created by the Roman Empire in its effort to quash the Bar Kokhba Revolt following “a rebellion of the Jews of the Roman province of Judea” in 135 AD. The last of three major Jewish–Roman wars, recorded by Roman historians. 

Whether you believe as Finkelstein does, that the neighbouring state of Israel was larger and more significant than Judea or not, does not make this well-recorded fact of history disappear.

In order to promote the kind of replacement theory and displacement praxis that is evident on our nation’s campuses, Kasrils goes even further than Finkelstein, in his minimalist assertions and then by entertaining all and sundry with the notion that the modern State of Israel emerged as a ‘colonial project fomented by Zionists, Agnostics and Atheists.’

As a communist, Kasrils should know better than to attack Jews for being communists, in the process denying Agnostics the right to live in a secular state.

As a person affected by a racist, anti-Enlightenment decision handed down by a corrupt ANC official, a morally reprehensible tract which seeks to define and restrict Jewish identity, I must object. (This at the same time that it replaces my own case with the case of the other party, his own client — all whilst upholding apartheid justifications for separate development.) I find both replacement theology and displacement praxis and its descendent in contemporary replacement ethnography as galling as either claim by either party to the conflict.

To put this bluntly, like Peter Beinart in the New York Times, I no longer believe in the Middle East, but can imagine a Jewish home in an equal state.

The Kasrils text however, is one of many dubious replacement theories circulating on social media, one immediately open to refutation, not since the Bible is a Fairy Tale, whose status is similar to any book by the Brothers Grimm, but rather since modern history is replete with examples of internecine violence and failure to abide by equality in treatment under law.

In this respect Israel and Palestine are not alone, and one has merely to examine the case of Cyprus — or India and Pakistan.

In particular Kasril’s failure to discuss the Farhud Massacre, ‘the violent dispossession” carried out against the Jewish population of Baghdad, Iraq, on June 1–2, 1941, and followed by the expulsion and dispossession of property of Arab Jews speaks reams of the bias and double-standards at play in his argument. Between 1920 and 1970, 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab and other Muslim countries.

A recent Time magazine article addressing the question of whether or not then Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin Husseini was the source of the Final Solution is but one example of the general problem of focusing exclusively on the Nakba whilst denying the Holocaust.

To put this matter to rest, although Husseini rallied behind the infamous Wansee Conference where Hitler’s Final Solution was formerly adopted, the decision to ‘exterminate all the Jews, and not simply the Zionist ones’ had already been taken, and thus, the ‘invitations had already been sent out’ when the Mufti arrived to argue his case against Jewish immigration to the Holy Land. (1)

For the record, Husseini’s position in history is much the same as the father of apartheid, DF Malan who introduced the racist Aliens Act in January 1937, restricting Jewish immigration to South Africa before the war.

Both men are responsible for condemning hundreds of thousands of Jews to euthanasia camps in Poland.

Having said that, there is much to be said about objecting to the current dispensation, whether by opposing annexation and the separation barrier or by promoting equality, in a binational state, or a plurinational confederation.

Two wrongs do not make a right. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. Banning points of view, with which one disagrees, and as Kasrils would have it, is never a solution. Rather it is my considered opinion that the conflict in the Middle East represents a tragic case of injustice vs injustice, or as the writer Amos Oz has put it, a case of competing juridical systems.

UPDATE: Read Johnathan Tobin response to Beinart

UPDATE: Read Israel Finkelstein Debunked

NOTE: This piece was written before the writer reviewed new evidence of Husseini’s complicity, see this later piece here.

Getting out of lockdown may be essential to combating impact of the virus

THE LOCKDOWN was never meant to do anything more than buy us time to prepare. Time to allow the public health system to adjust, to stock-up on medication, to initiate testing and special counter-measures.

Unfortunately it appears that many South Africans and government officials are under the impression that the lock-down is some form of a cure-all. It is nothing of the sort. It cannot prevent the second and third wave of infections that will undoubtedly arrive come winter, and it cannot continue being extended if our economy and way of life is to survive.

Although a return to normal is not possible, and social distancing and other measures will be in place for a very long time, the cost of extending the lock-down must be weighed against the inevitable collapse in economic activity that will result. Given that for the majority of South Africans, adapting to a world where the only economic activities will be online jobs, is neither practical nor possible over the short term, nor is it readily apparent what unskilled labour is expected to do during the crisis?

Getting out of lock-down is essential to combat the impact of the virus upon the economy, on people’s lives and livelihoods, and to avoid the continued abuse of state power by the SANDF. Where those on the left including the ANC have supported the extension of the lockdown, it is only the opposition DA which has registered its dismay.

Many of the measures already in place have little scientific or health merit. Preventing people from playing in their yards, from jogging outdoors, or engaging in other activities such as drinking alcohol, that presumably might risk the spread of the virus, is not ideal. A zero tolerance approach to infection has consequences, chief of which is that unless the state can pay its citizens a basic income ,the possibility exists of mass starvation.

There is limited capacity within our country to simply go on dishing out food parcels, to place SMMEs on life support, to postpone bond and debt payments. This while rounding up the homeless, placing such persons in ‘temporary shelters’ that resemble concentration camps. The sheer density of many informal settlements has made such steps seem ludicrous.

One approach to the problem outlined by an Australian virologist, Professor Peter Collignon, is to gradually expose parts of the population to the virus. This controversial approach to developing immunity within the broader population has some merit and should not simply be discarded. In Sweden for example, where there has been no lock-down, admittedly within an excellent health care system, the mortality figures have not been all that different from those countries which have implemented lock-down practices.

In some respects the UK which early on adopted some of the measures in Sweden, before choosing a general lock-down, is an example of the counter-intuitive logic at play. The country at first sheltered the elderly and most vulnerable. Those dying today, would have died tomorrow, argue proponents, dead in future waves of the epidemic. Without a vaccine, the only option for so-called ‘herd immunity‘ is to control the rate of infection, to flatten the curve and stall the onset of the epidemic.

Faced with the prospect that a working vaccine may only be ready in September, in six months time, South Africa has an unenviable task, that of weighing up all the options, examining the case for and against an extension of the current five week lock-down.

published in part by Natal Mercury Letters