Abbas ’50 Holocausts’ comment draws fire, lame local response as Israel cracks down on Palestinian rights groups

IT’S BEEN quite a week. 7 days after Salman Rushdie was stabbed by an assailant and rushed to hospital where he remains on the critical list, Mahmoud Abbas was drawing fire for comments he made at a press conference alongside German Chancellor Scholz, prompting an investigation by Berlin police.

Abbas claimed that Israel had committed “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians.

The remarks, during a news conference in Berlin alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, sparked outrage in Germany, Israel and beyond. Scholz said Wednesday he was “disgusted by the outrageous remarks” made by the Palestinian Authority president.

He also rejected the use of the term ‘apartheid’ to describe Israel.

Police confirmed a report Friday by German daily Bild that Abbas was being investigated for possible infringements of laws making it a criminal offense to downplay or deny the Holocaust.

Abbas’ statement is consistent with replacement theology which denies the involvement of Palestinian leadership in the tragedy under Amin al-Husseini (pictured touring concentration camps with German high command) and the result is Nakba inflation, in which massacres of Jews by Arabs in the Middle East, including expulsion and cession of land owned by Jews, some 100 000 square km of deeded property, is rendered invisible.

Nether remarks by Abbas or Sholz received media coverage in South Africa. Instead, I awoke this morning to press releases from local rights organisations such as South African Jews for Free Palestine (SAJFP), objecting to seven Palestinian civil society and human rights organisations ‘forcibly shut by Israeli raids on Thursday’. A tragic case of injustice versus injustice in which both parties to the conflict feel emboldened to deny the rights of the other?

The reasons offered by Israel seem to be allegations the organizations are being used as ‘fronts for terror activities’. JFP were quick to point out this was a common accusation made during the State of Emergency under apartheid. Whether the result actually translates into apartheid is another matter.

One can only hope the SAJFP is as vocal in its objection to Holocaust denial and will provides readers with an explanation as to why there is currently no Secular Freedom Charter in a struggle which purports to be analogous to the struggle against apartheid.

Climate Justice: Andile Mlambo vs John Kane-Berman

TWO environment pieces illustrate diametrically opposed views in SA: “We are experiencing a climate renaissance in my community, Tembisa, evident by the renewed interest — from the youth, the middle aged and the elderly — in climate issues” writes Andile Mlambo. Meanwhile John Kane-Berman has penned an article which claims “”Climate justice” is a nice term for a set of arrogant, economically damaging, cynical, cruel, and inhuman policies.”

So while Mlambo reports local communities are raising “the banner of “climate justice now” in defiance of the grim face of energy institutions that perpetuate the misconception that those who are not sufficiently pale-skinned neither care about nor understand the effects of fossil fuel emissions — on their health, food security and their fertility.”

The Institute for Race Relation’s John Kane Berman has deemed it fit to speak on behalf of disadvantaged communities, those who are already benefiting from climate aid, claiming that “Africans are being fooled by eco-imperialism”, and that “many South African non-governmental organisations and members of the communications media have bought into “net zero”, which is now the dominant ideology of the Western world.”

As a result, he claims, “They habitually oppose mining development. They want to put a stop to oil and gas exploration. And, of course, they want to shut down Eskom’s coal-fired power stations.”

One could not get more disconnected from the scientific reality of climate heating, nor wrong-headed about our country”s own contribution to the problem. South Africa currently produces more GHG than the UK, a country with double the population. The attempt by Kane-Berman to deflect support for a just transition by attacking the massive R131bn aid package which is the hallmark of Cyril Ramaphosa’s participation in the last COP round, is indicative of a myopic right-wing agenda which sees growing opposition to oil and gas as an opportunity to recast themes once associated with the struggle against apartheid.

Thus Kane-Berman drapes himself in the regalia of Pan-Africanism, whilst trotting out denialist sophistry that serve nothing more than to sugar-coat a propaganda piece on behalf of aggressive oil and gas exploration pursued by the likes of Shell, and recently interdicted by poor black communities living along the Wild Coast.

It should come as no surprise that the exact same form of faithwashing of the oil industry has come from the likes of Gwede Mantashe who recently claimed that objecting to the seismic testing was a ‘special type of apartheid”.

The idea that since the West has benefited from fossil fuel exploitation in the past, South Africa should be given an opportunity to do the same moving into the future, and that ‘net zero’ is simply an ‘ideology of the West’, needs to be dispensed with as a dangerous conceit. ‘Net zero’ is the bare minimum required to avoid global temperatures increasing by more than 1.5 degrees celsius. This is via all estimates garnered by climate scientists representing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body which includes micronations and the rest of the world, not simply “the West”.

One could do a lot better by simply focusing on ‘climate debt’, the debt owed to the world by those who have embarked on fossil fuel exploitation first, instead of advocating for extra time in which to exploit. The past 7 years have been the hottest on record, and the world is about to get a lot hotter.

Both Kane-Berman and Mantashe ignore the reality that what is urgently required is a ‘carbon negative economy’, one which deals with the cumulative impact of GHG emissions over time. In other words, we really should be offsetting our GHG emissions by at least a factor of two to three, if we wish to avoid the catastrophe which is already locked into our own government’s planning around the issue.

It is highly irresponsible and foolish for anyone occupying a position of authority to suggest otherwise.

SEE South Africa’s coastlines are a biodiversity hotspot