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.’
The 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.
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.
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
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
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.
ALTERNATIVE MEDIA FORUM
PO BOX 4398
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.