Oscar van Heerden: Evil academics are indeed banal

IN MANY respects Oscar van Heerden represents all that is wrong inside South African academia. Its de-emphasis of evidence-based research in favour of pure scholasticism. The rote repetition of other’s opinions, in an uncritical process which edifies ‘woke logic’ and the writings of the country’s institutional founders, in essence a thought-process emphasizing tradition and dogma.

Reading his latest missive published on News24, a title whose publisher sought my gagging in 2007 and then proceeded to lodge ecclesiastical charges on the basis of my attendance at a ‘mixed race’ nightclub on the Jewish Sabbath (in what can only be termed a racist inquisition of secular religion), one is struck, by the manner in which van Heerden fails to frame his writing within the context of secular humanistic norms and values.

I write this over the same weekend in which Salman Rushdie has been stabbed multiple times by an assailant enthralled by a fatwa issued against the author (and since retracted) by the Iranian regime.

Witness the callous manner in which van Heerden’s article: “The Israel-Gaza conflict and the ‘banality of evil’ proceeds to launch a bare assertion fallacy (ipse dixit) – “a claim that is presented as true without support, as self-evidently true, or as dogmatically true.” And thus a fallacy which “relies on the implied expertise of the speaker or on an unstated truism”. Which would not be all that troubling if it were not for the fact that van Heerden holds an MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge, (both in International Relations), and Salman Rushdie does not.

Van Heerden should know better than to posit a bald reversal of the context of Hanna Arendt’s “A Report on the Banality of Evil. Written by a Jew who fled Germany during Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, (who subsequently reported on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the major organizers of the Holocaust), the resulting restatement would require extraordinary evidence. Evidence which he fails to either supply nor even cite.

Not even the much-maligned Amnesty Report into Israel and the Crime of Apartheid goes so far as to claim that the country is involved in anything resembling a ‘genocide’. Instead van Heerden relies upon a single source, namely the controversial opinions of one Gideon Levy, an Israeli author and journalist, resulting in immediate objections of exaggeration and hyperbole from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, exercising its purported ‘right of reply’, a right which I myself (as a person accused of being Jewish), do not possess.

Instead of reporting Levy’s views as his own opinions, van Heerden complicates matters by immediately assuming these views to be demonstrable facts. Thus the journalist’s open speculation as to why Israel does what it does, when the state, rightly or wrongly, practices a policy of asymmetric warfare, allegedly in defense of its own sovereignty, is presented as all true without the requirement of any further support.

The unhappy result is most certainly both a decontextualisation of history and current affairs which reaches out into the world of fantasy fiction. I am not going to continue with further analysis here suffice to add that I have already characterised the tragic situation in Israel/Palestine as one of ‘injustice versus injustice’, echoing writer Amoz Oz, who claims ‘a sad case of competing juridical systems’. In other words, a war over secular meaning.

One should add though, that Arendt appears to contradict her own thesis by arguing in The Origins of Totalitarianism, that “the evil of the Nazis was absolute and inhuman, not shallow and incomprehensible.”

And note, van Heerden also appears to ignore the fact that Israel barely occupies 35% of Mandate Palestine, with Arab states holding 65% of the territory. I therefore urge readers to read: “Everything you know about the Palestinian Struggle is Wrong

Behind the Hamas smokescreen

PIERRE Rehov take us behind the Hamas smokescreen to reveal a chilling reality missing from the mainstream media narrative on the border fence protests. Footage below shows activists cutting a fence to enter an exclusion zone defended by the IDF. The same narrative is contained in a piece by Ivo Vegter, a man whom Medialternatives has often criticised.

Vegter defends Gareth Cliff as quoted by the media.

UN human rights chief says Israel used “wholly disproportionate” force against Palestinian border protests which have left over 100 people dead. Israel’s Ambassador Aviva Raz Shechter rejected the blame, saying ‘Israel had done everything possible to avoid harming civilians.’

Another documentary worth watching to gain insight, also below, depicts the missing story of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and the reason why the borders of 1948 aren’t going to disappear any time soon. The all important context missing from the current factually unsupported media bias.

A piece on international Farhud Day commemorating the dispossession and displacement of 850 000 Arab Jews, held every 1 June, demonstrates this exact same point. A book is also available on the subject.

One can only recommend that viewers keep an open mind, and avoid taking a binary position on a conflict which has resulted in Injustice v Injustice.


Why I am not joining the March for Gaza

WHEN I joined the struggle against the apartheid regime there was never any doubt in my mind that the armed struggle was a just struggle against an oppressive state. Not only was there a Freedom Charter guaranteeing human rights for all, but our demands and that of the demands of our leaders such as Nelson Mandela were rock solid and beyond reproach.

One of the reasons I became an anarchist and non-zionist in the 1980s was the aggressive Palestinian Solidarity campaign in which the two struggles were ostensibly linked. Although Jews had made an enormous contribution to the anti-apartheid movement in particular the Treason Trial, the situation back then presented itself with many predicaments.

Nelson Mandela himself recounts his conversation with the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who had complained about the presence of Jews in the ANC, to which Mandela replied, ‘yes, we have Jews, … we work with Jews in our organisation.’

tonyThe absence of Jews in the Hamas organisation is telling. In South Africa, we were not simply silent partners in the liberation of our country, but active participants and in some instances, heroes. Hamas’ lame explanation that it has Jewish supporters, who like me, support rights for Palestinians, does not ring true given their absurd lack of commitment to civil rights in their own domain, for their own people in Gaza.

When people call for the death of something, such political rhetoric may be excused in the heat of the moment, a battle cry of the oppressed against the oppressor, it is quite another issue to have a vendetta in a written document, a credo enshrining death and destruction.

Hamas, far from being a noble liberation movement like the ANC, seeking the end of oppression, the end of the colonial occupation as they see it, have made it abundantly clear that their objective is the destruction of the Jews in a final battle, alongside the creation of an Islamic state on the rubble of Israel.

The movement’s ultimate goal is a theocracy under the Caliphate, in which Jews are expected to either die or conform to an Islamic version of Judaism, as Dhimmi or People of the Book.

Now while a piece entitled: ‘7 Zionist Myths’ based on work published by David Duke, an American White nationalist, writer, right-wing politician, and a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, is being reposted and circulating on the Internet, (see my analysis of a similar piece by Illan Pappe and others) I am moved to write the following:

The struggle for a Jew-free Palestine must be condemned as too the struggle for a Palestinian-free Israel. The tactics of genocide and targeting of civilians by either side can never be condoned. The war being fought by adults against children in the Middle East must end.

I am an anarchist, I am also most certainly a secularist. When it comes down to being held hostage by an Islamic State vs being held hostage by a Secular State, I choose Secularism. In a battle of ideologies, I reserve my right to reject authoritarianism and fascism on either side.

As the humanitarian disaster of 40 000 members of the minority Yazidi sect who have taken refuge from ISIS on Mount Sinjar, (identified in local legend as the final resting place of Noah’s ark), plays itself out — the group face slaughter if they go down and dehydration if they stay, —  and Gazans begin to pick up their lives after the retreat of the IDF amidst the rubble of a 20 day war, and a lengthy siege surpassing the Cuban missile crisis, one can only hope and dare one say, pray for peace in the Middle East.

Gaza, the war against children

THIS is a war against children being conducted by adults on both sides of the conflict. Over the weekend, we heard of a BBC reporter in Gaza whose 11 month old baby child was killed by incoming IDF fire. A baby injured in Kiryat Malachi, where three people were killed after Palestinian militants fired rockets at the Israeli town, is one of many pictures of children wounded  in the conflict which continues to take its toll on infants.

The Middle East conflict is no longer a news story about conflicting national identities. It is an ongoing and tragic tale of infanticide and the psychological maiming of future generations who are no more responsible for the conflict, than today’s generation are responsible for the Second World War.

The brutality with which the Israeli propaganda machine is meeting the naked hatred of Hamas al-Qassam brigades who in turn ring out the now familiar chant of ‘Death to Israel” is really turning the war into an offense against the human spirit. Where is the humanity left on both sides, these brutes who see fit to sacrifice each others children for political gain as if there is some form of moral equivocation, my child for your child, my eyes for your eyes?

In South Africa, where images of children massacred by the apartheid state became common place, we often had cause to remark that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. For all the slaughter, our Freedom Struggle never stooped to this level of brutality. The only legitimate targets were the state. Care was always taken to avoid civilian causalities.

We therefore need to stand firm in our commitment to peace for future generations by saying no to war and military aggression. No to missiles, rockets, drones, combat aircraft, tanks, collateral damage, siege, bomb vests, landmines, barbed wire and hatred.

AMF statement on the Gaza flotilla incident

This is the statement released on the day news broke about the “freedom flotilla’ incident. I publish it here for the sake of clarity and  perspective on the position of the publisher of Medialternatives.

AMF condemns Israel violence against humanitarian flotilla

The Alternative Media Forum condemns the excessive use of force by
Israel today against an international humanitarian aid flotilla. The
government of Israel appears to have lost all sense of the reality of
the situation — killing civilians, endangering the lives of activists
(amongst whom are also Holocaust survivors) and jeopardizing the life of
well-known South African community radio news presenter Gadija Davids.

We are both shocked and dismayed at the continuing saga involving a
conflict which appears to be getting worse by the day, and from which
either side appears unable to extricate itself. The use of violence, is
not only irrational but a clear sign that Israel has no sense of the
proportion of the conflict.

The solution to the Palestinian/Israeli crisis is not through the use of
violence and name-calling but through better communication and dialogue
on either side.

The medieval siege of Gaza also makes absolutely no sense in the
Information Age, in which borders and boundaries are no longer
circumscribed by maps, but rather by news-wires, IP addresses and
computer networks.

We therefore condemn the regressive closure of ports by Israel, and the
building of walls in the interests of furthering nation-hood at any cost.

The Law of Blockade, as advocated by Israel, does not apply to armed
conflicts in our day and age in the way they might have been applied
once during the Middle ages, or during the time of King Solomon.

Applying the example of South Africa in this instance also does more
harm than good, since our calling for sanctions against Israel has had
the perverse effect of sustaining Israeli calls for a continuing and
total blockade of Gaza, thus fueling further suffering against its
people. The Israeli/Palestinian problem should therefore be dealt with
on its own terms and with the interests of all the people affected in mind.

The ongoing conflict and todays massacre does not bode well for World
Peace and for the safety and security of our own communities within the
International Order.

We therefore have no hesitation in demanding the blockade against Gaza
be lifted and that local activists at very least familiarize themselves
with the language and arguments being used on either side, so that our
responses to the tragedy are informed and rational.

PO BOX 4398

Gaza – Jewish Anarchist perspective.

THE Jewish anarchist Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869 – May 14, 1940) who grew up in a Russian ghetto, defined her belief system, thus: “I have no wish to rule over others!” Anarchism, according to Goldman (1), is defined as ” the theory that all forms of government rest on violence” and whether violence is the result of occupation, or the claim to resistance on behalf of the nation-state — the travesty of state-worship cannot be reconciled with belief in self-rule, or “the philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made laws.”

The tragedy of Palestine has shown us the nation-state is no longer valid. In today’s interconnected world the deaths of nameless children under the rubble of Israeli-bombs is as traumatic as if these same bombs were falling in our own backyards — whether Mitchell’s Plein or Athlone, Woodstock or Grassy Park, war can only be seen as the death-knell of state authority, state-worship — the end of the so-called United Nations.

There is nothing that can stop the resulting pain, fear and self-hatred — the madness of extreme fundamentalist positions on either side — suffice to say the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been rendered by war into an absurdity, as meaningless as any border, as futile as any map .

If only we could condemn the Jewish-state along with Israel, or put a stop to the travesty of Palestine in which countless martyrs, willing to die for a cause, and manipulated by religion, are being murdered in their hundreds by the world’s fourth largest army.

To speak up as an anarchist, to condemn all wars, and all conflicts, one finds oneself invariably speaking up for Judaism and even Islam in its purest form — how is it possible to embrace Judaism or Islam without condemning the trappings of worship — the Wailing Wall in East Jerusalem for instance — which has held a fascination for centuries of Jewry despite express sanctions against idolatry — surely one must reject everything — even if the idol being worshipped is a Wall — or ones G-d has turned into a rock?

Israel is the only place in the world where the Hallacha is practiced. Those who follow the supposed divine scriptures of Moses reject the “man-made” Israeli state in which human-laws are practiced. However, if one follows such sophistry, one invariably reaches the conclusion “by any means necessary”, the Hallacha like Sharia must be defended, come what may and in contradistinction to those who would set up a nation-state, whether Arab or Israeli in place of Zion — the madness of labels in which Jews become occupiers and Arabs become Jews.

I am appalled at the suffering being wrought on children everywhere, and by the lack of debate around the issues. Surely 5 million Israelis’ cannot hold 409,680 Gazans to ransom, and neither should the world’s 13 million Jews be held to ransom by 300 million Muslims and 2.1 billion Christians?

No — we are all Gazans, Palestinians, Israeli’s, Arabs and Jews. I urge you you all to take an anarchist perspective, an anti-authoritarian and peace-centred view, one that renounces violence as a solution or government as a way out — to embrace a post-modern, latter-day teleology — a philosophy in which a free Jerusalem/Al Aksa – a true Zion — self-determination without the coercion of the nation-state — will come about not in our dreams but in our future — perhaps a thousand years hence, along with the whithering away of the state and the creation of a legitimate equality — a true internationale — a just order based upon brotherly love, friendship and peace. Only then may we proclaim an exceptionalism — an authentic peace that confounds the norm.