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 and for 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 attended 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. 

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

Caster Controversy: Male or Female, or Both?

THE first I got wind of some of the more troubling underlying ‘facts’ surrounding the Caster Controversy, was after a posting by the Dagga Party’s own Jeremy Acton. In a posting on social media, Acton argues that ‘Semenya’s XY chromosomes’ prove the athlete to be both a “man” and a “fraud in athletics”.

“I do not care that this view might upset anyone. It is my Section 15 right to have this opinion and my Section 16 right to express my viewpoint,” Acton added.

In the post, the leader of the Dagga Party stated that he only supports “real women’s rights”, adding that he wants Semenya to return all titles and earnings, and that “his” records should be declared null and void.”

While the net is full of opinion pieces, some comparing the IAAF investigation to treatment of Saartjie Baartman, they are invariably thin on substance, compared to the citations provided by Acton.

You can read Acton’s views in the Citizen article.

If one follows the links to the story provided on Letsrun.com, you will find the real dope on Caster written up by one Robert Johnson.

Letsrun is a longstanding site for “Olympic track and field fans” with athletic articles and popular message boards.

Johnson writes “its absolutely mind-boggling that virtually every major outlet in the world reporting the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling yesterday has failed to mention one of the most important facts of the entire case.”

“Caster Semenya has XY chromosomes. It was generally accepted by people following the case closely that Semenya was XY, but now it’s been confirmed as fact since the CAS press release specifically says, “The DSD covered by the Regulations are limited to athletes with ’46 XY DSD’” (DSD = difference of sex development).

The scientific reality, if true, unfortunately places Caster in the troubling terrain of birth defects and other childhood deformities, instead of traditional femininity insofar as athletics is concerned. There is some speculation here as to the role of external, environmental factors at birth, such as exposure to dioxins by poor, under-serviced communities.

And there I was thinking that Caster was potentially intersexed, not simply sex reassignment at birth, and all this was a case of interpretation (see Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag), see my earlier piece Caster Deconstructed.

On the other hand D. Myron Genel, a professor emeritus of pediatrics at Yale University, still believes “Semenya is a female with a birth defect, simple as that”. There is a good article on the crisis of definition in the Washington Post.

This contrarian view however elegant, doesn’t deal with the reality that Caster is technically, neither male nor female. It is not simply a case of testosterone, nor even transgender for that matter.

(Listen to this podcast on Eusebius McKaiser show, still focusing on hyperandrogenism and the test issue, but a good history of similar controversies).

It would seem that when it comes to the IAAF, biology most certainly overrules psychology (and even the advances of jurisprudence and socio-political rights) since while anyone may change legal gender these days, by identifying as either male or female, one has to be a genuine, ‘bone fide women’ in order to compete in athletics. Fair is fair after all.

Blur the gender boundary too much, and’all sports events become men’s events’, says sports scientist Dr Ross Tucker.

The rights of ‘real women’ according to this admittedly binary view, need to be taken into account, and it will take decades to unravel the truth behind the Caster saga, even if the period of s/he, and WoMans reign, much like the Zuma administration, was an interesting, and very public joy ride.

For the record, Medialternatives was one of the first outlets to champion Caster’s ‘right to be a women‘ in the face of scientific determinism.

What are your views on the subject, please use the comments section below.

 

And so Multichoice grants itself a clean bill of health on apartheid

images (1)IT WAS bound to happen. The bizarre situation in which two apartheid-era springboks were taken to task by a post-democracy Springbok, over racism, quotas and paternalism. Followed by the media spin driven by Multichoice Supersport whose holding company Naspers refuses to come clean over its role in promoting separate development, race classification and segregation during the apartheid-era.

Naspers the company which owns Multichoice, ducked the subpoena handed out by the TRC to its former-director PW Botha, refused to participate in the media hearings at the commission, rebuked a group of journalists attending in their private capacity, and instead has stuck to a version of history that is anything but an accurate and fair depiction of the times.

After effectively being found guilty of gross violations of human rights by the commission, and thus a report which records  “a total lack of concern for the company’s support of the racist system” (Volume 4 of the Final TRC report), the company proceeded to deny the reality.

“I worked hard to earn my own respect in this game… so, I’m not going to be patronised by two individuals who played in apartheid – a segregated era – and come and want to undermine… people” said Ashwin Willemse after a match last month  between the Lions and the Brumbies.`

The Supersport public relations machine immediately went into overdrive. Holding their own internal inquiry, the company casually announced yesterday that it had found that “there was no racism involved in Ashwin Willemse walking out from an on-air broadcast” in the process exonerating Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, two darlings of the apartheid regime.

Apparently  SuperSport CEO Gideon Khobane maintains the group was cleared by Advocate Vincent Maleka, and thus presumably a member of the Bar. The result is anything but an open inquiry before an independent tribunal, and echoes similar statements by manager Ishmet Davidson, who claimed on air the entire group had been cleared by the TRC back in the early 90s.

Davidson’s 2015 comments followed a case-limited apology issued by Media24 CEO Esmarie Weideman citing only one instance in which a ‘coloured employee’ had experienced difficulties with separate facilities.

Talk about undermining the Truth. Willemse did not participate in the internal review for obvious reasons. The attempt to legitimize apartheid-denial by acting as sole arbiter of apartheid history, must be rejected for what it is, a total sham.

Willemse’s lawyer Nqobizitha Mlilo told SAFM radio host Tsepiso Makwetla on Wednesday morning that Willemse “did not see any value in participating with the process” because the rugby analyst had already expressed his views …”

“We expressed a view to Adv Maleka SC that he (Adv Maleka SC) was being used to sanitise and chlorinate failures by SuperSport to deal with a number of reported incidents of racism by the gentlemen in question‚”

DISCLOSURE: The writer is currently suing Naspers via the Equality Court and is awaiting the outcome of a case brought against Legal Aid South Africa in this regard.

 

 

Zuma’s long road to Serfdom

THE ZUMA administration is the subject of a number of public embarrassments. All involve, maladministration, graft and the failure to abide by the rule of law. The latest comes with the release of a report into the 2012 Marikana massacre which led to the deaths of approximately 44 people, and more than 70 persons being injured.

The Farlam Commission appointed by president Zuma, predictably, whitewashes the administration’s involvement in the events which lead up to the massacre. Deputy-President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who was non-executive director of Lonmin, a significant shareholder in the company (through its shareholding structures), and a senior member of the ANC at the time, has been given a clean bill of health, so too the political structure and chain of command which lead directly to the massacre.

The release of the report comes days after scandals involving the failure to arrest Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir wanted by the International Criminal Court and international community for the Darfur Genocide, and just weeks after a FIFA bribery scandal involving Danny Jordaan and under-the-counter payments made in exchange for votes.

Only a month earlier, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko was telling the public that additions to the Zuma compound at Nkandla such as a swimming pool and amphitheatre, were all vital “security features”, for which the president “is therefore not liable to pay”.

The embarrassments are leading ordinary South Africans to ask whether it is perhaps time for Zuma to go?

South Africa under Msholozi, the clan name under which Zuma is also known, has seen a bloated cabinet, one of the biggest in the world, with a concomitant increase in departmental complexity,  government red-tape and an out of control civil service, as the modus operandi of the country has moved from industrial output, to the aegis of big government, a nation which produces politicians instead of productivity.

Anyone following the debate over Eskom’s tariff increases, could be forgiven for thinking that South Africans exist to fund the energy parastatal and its emphasis on Soviet-style gigantism — two large fossil fuel projects and a failed R10 billion Pebble-bed Modular Reactor programme, and now the threat of a BRICS-lead trillion rand nuclear build, for which the country undoubtedly, has insufficient foreign reserves to foot the bill, when and if it arrives.

Eskom, despite having a monopoly mandate, increasingly finds itself unable to provide electricity. The simple logic of the market has proven to be an Achilles heel. The increase in the civil service has not countered the loss of jobs in the private sector.

That the economic master-plan of the ruling party, known as the National Development Plan, along with its  shibboleth of central planning and anti-privatisation rhetoric, is beginning to unravel, can be seen in the failure of other parastatals to deliver. In short, Telkom sucks, as does SAA which exists on annual bail-outs. (There are some 120 such quasi-government entities)

20 years after the constituent assembly drafted the Constitution and Bill of Rights, ushering in a universal franchise and human rights, the country is paying lip-service to its contents, institutions such as the public protector are ignored. Likewise, the judiciary.

Under Zuma, a narrow ethnic nationalism has found itself at odds with the secular values established under previous governments. The president has cemented power, rolling out salary increases for “headmen” (what no women?) under a new dispensation which favours tribal authority at the expense of citizenship and the rights of the individual.

Thus the road to serfdom, instead of the great society of Nelson Mandela.

“If the Jews disappear, so do we” Farid Esack

Dear Ed,

“If the Jews disappear, so do we” 29/1/2013 refers

I wish to commend those in South Africa’s Muslim community who have chosen to commemorate an event which has particular resonance for Jews, both within and without our borders. We must never forget that communists, gypsies, homosexuals, disabled and the unfit, all died together in the Nazi extermination camps. No one group was singled out for special treatment, and all were exposed to the horrors on an equal footing.

As a person of Jewish descent who grew up in the aftermath of the war, and the unspeakable tragedy which was unleashed upon the world, I believe I am entitled to speak out when members of my own community choose to ignore what is universal about the Holocaust, or Shoah as it is also known. Indeed, never again, should be never again for all people.

The universalism of the moral and ethical issues presented by the Nazi extermination camps and the ideology of eugenics which underpinned race supremacist notions of superiority and inferiority in Germany as too in our own country, have a particular lesson for South Africans. It is therefore no coincidence that hearings into Holocaust denial continue apace in Cape Town, as we as a nation slowly begin to confront the twin issue of Apartheid denial, for example attempts to lay the blame for apartheid on an unrelated group instead of tackling the real perpetrators, the ideologues and generals, the propagandists and politicians.

As Africans we need to reach out to the victims and the survivors of these and other tragedies and we need to be cognizant that as we do so, we are witness to new atrocities, the raging wars in the North – both Mali and Sudan which threaten to unleash further killings. As I write this letter, there is word of renewed offenses against humanity as 20 000 Sudanese are reported to have been massacred in Darfur.

Ideologies of race hatred which lead to such terrible deeds, the killing fields of Rwanda, need to be exposed. Ideologies which preach that a particular soul is qualitatively different from other souls, or that one race should be advantaged to the disadvantage of another, these are the seeds of hatred.

I therefore thank you once again for standing up for universalism in particular and human rights for all.

Yours sincerely,

David Robert Lewis

Media overview

Some links related to content on this blog.

Treat apartheid apologists like Holocaust deniers

If the Jews disappear, so do we, Farid Esack

SAHRC probing school over headgear 

Why there are no authentic Africans, Afrikaners, women or homosexuals

Conversations: Crain Soudien on SA’s identity politics

Apartheid’s InfoGate, fresh and relevant after all these years

Independent News and Media, and the battle for the soul of independent journalism

Louis Luyt — rugby boss, propagandist, fertiliser man and ‘scumbag’

Letter to Cape Times regarding Terry Crawford-Brown

[Yet another unpublished letter to the Cape Times. DRL]

Dear Ed,

Cape Times Wednesday, January 9, 2013, Letter to the Editor refers.

628x471Terry Crawford-Brown’s latest apoplexy regarding Arab Jews living in Israel is insightful. The least of which is the lengths to which Anti-Semitic bigots will go in their attempt to explain away the problem of Jewish refugees. Accusing Jews of being responsible for their own persecution in Arab countries after 1945 is really the work of a troubled mind, one which undoubtedly conjures up the dystopian absurdity of a global conspiracy in which Jewish support of Hitler, resulted in World War II and where the creation of the state of Israel is really a massive plot to escape guilt for the murder of 6 million Jews at the hands of International Zionism.

Brown’s half-truths mixed with fable need serious scrutiny since the facts speak for themselves. While he is probably right to suggest that in 1945, roughly 1 million Jews lived in relative peace in the various Arab states of the Middle East, many of them in communities that had existed for thousands of years, he is blatantly wrong in asserting that these refugees were complicit in the confiscation of their own property, some 100,000 square kilometres of deeded property, by Arab governments. It was the Arabs who rejected the United Nations decision to partition Palestine and to create a Jewish state and it was because of the ensuing discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism in Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. that the Jews of Arab lands became targets of anti-Zionist fervor.

As Egypt’s delegate to the UN in 1947 chillingly told the General Assembly: “The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries will be jeopardized by partition.” The dire warning quickly became the brutal reality, ” relates Aharon Mor & Orly Rahimiyan, the authors of “The Jewish Exodus from Arab Lands”. The same political brinkmanship can be seen in the remarks of Essam el-Erian, a former adviser to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who recently called on Egyptian Jews to return home to Egypt so they can “make room for the Palestinians to return [to Palestine], and Jews return to their homeland [each group of Jews to return to its respective Diaspora “homeland”] in light of the democracy” evolving in Egypt. “I call on them now. Egypt is more deserving of you.” NOTE: Morsi is on record as referring to ALL Jews as “bloodsuckers” and the “descendants of apes and pigs”.

Like Saddam Hussein in 1974, when he called on Iraqi Jews to return, to have their citizenship reinstated, and their confiscated property returned without any guarantee of human rights, Brown wants to turn the wheel of history back 65 years, in the process also depriving 1 million Russian Jewish refugees “of dubious” origin, of their right to freedom of religion. It is the kind of racist politicking that relegated South Africa’s various ethnic groups to the independent homelands, while denying them basic human rights in the land of their birth. These Russians are no less deserving of human rights and yet Brown would rather support a political movement which has consistently failed to offer any such guarantees. To date, neither the PLO nor Hamas possess a Freedom Charter guaranteeing fundamental human rights.

Whatever ones views on the problematic states of Israel and Palestine, and whether one supports statehood or not, as South Africans it is incumbent upon us to seek out the truth, to expose the lies wherever they may be and to call for a peaceful and just settlement of the dispute, one which has been ongoing for almost three quarters of a century and which has claimed hundreds of lives on either side.

Yours faithfully,

David Robert Lewis

NOTE: Jews were stripped of their citizenship in Egypt, Iraq, Algeria and Libya; detained or arrested in Algeria, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Egypt; deprived of employment by government decrees in Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Algeria, and had their property confiscated in all of the Arab lands except Morocco, according to Justice for Jews from Arab Countries. Anti-Jewish riots were widespread.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Jews-who-fled-Arab-lands-now-press-their-cause-2774419.php#ixzz2I9XQ1T7C

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Yemenite Jews arrive at Ben Gurion airport

How 3 million Palestinians made peace with Israel

In 1994 Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty. The treaty normalized relations between the two countries and resolved territorial disputes. There are some 2.7 million Palestinians living in Jordan, including some 1.5 million “refugees”, between 60-80% of the population in a country formed out of the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine.

In 1946 over 70% of the British Mandate of Palestine was granted to the Hashemite Kingdom. The remaining 30% was divided again, between Jews and Arabs, with a new separate entity under a failed UN partition plan simply called “Palestine”. Both Jordan and Palestine have the same flag, with the only difference being the addition of a white star to denote the Hashemite Monarchy in Jordan. Although controlled by the Hashemites, Palestinians are a majority in Jordan, and comprise a diverse culture, “descendants of Christians, Jews and other earlier inhabitants of the southern Levant whose core reaches back to prehistoric times.”

The resulting conflict and ideological battle over Palestinian and Israeli identity has been ongoing since the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. Following the war, Jordan annexed the West Bank and East Jerusalem, occupying the territory for a period of two decades from 1948-1967. Following the 6 day war of 1967, Jordan was forced to relinquish control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The dispute over the borders between Israel and the Palestinian State of Jordan were resolved in 1994. Israel and Jordan  agreed to honor the Washington Declaration, signed July 25, 1994, and based on a U.N. Security CouncilResolution, they declared the termination of the state of belligerency between them and established peace between them in accordance with the treaty.