Minister Pandora: South Africa is sleepwalking into a catastrophe

NOT content with promoting human rights for all, South Africa has taken it upon itself to interdict a single party to a conflict whose seeming binary nature is the source of major global tensions. On the one side, a group of Jihadists whose charter outlines a ‘battle against the Jews’ over the final status of Jerusalem. On the other side, an embattled ‘democratic state’ whose claims of Jewishness and democracy is subject to dispute even amongst Jews.

It should not matter on which side one is here if the end goal is secularism, universal suffrage and human rights for all, but in this conflict nothing is as it appears. Take Gaza’s Anti-Secular allies — Iran is an Islamic Republic which prohibits trade unions (not to mention women’s rights and the death penalty for LGBT):

“Trade unions are not recognized in Iran.” says Kemal Özkan of IndustriALL Global Union

“The Iranian labour law currently forbids and prevents the formation of trade unions. In Iran only Islamic labour councils are accepted but they are not trade unions – they are tripartite organizations bringing together the Ministry of Labour, the employers and some selected workers based on their loyalties and religious affiliations to the government. As a result they are inappropriate and ill-equipped to deal with the demands and needs of Iranian workers.”

Or how about the real elephant in the room? Houthi Yemen, armed to the teeth, already participating in a regional conflict via its ongoing attacks against shipping in the Red Sea, ostensibly to effect a blockade of Israel. If the ongoing firing of rockets by either Houthis or the Gazans themselves isn’t something that gets newspaper headlines these days, then you will probably wonder why you missed this news item, the 2019 re-establishment of Slavery by the Houthis?

“Since their coup, the Houthis have sought to turn back the hands of time and take back Yemen to the era of the oppressive Imamate and all forms of slavery.

A civilian, who works for a pro-Houthi tribal leader in Saada, told Turkey’s Asharq Al-Awsat news outlet: “I have been working for years at the sheikh’s house without pay. I cannot go back to my family or do anything out of my own free will.”

“I do not know the meaning of freedom,” he said.

The United States literally fought a civil war over the issue of slavery without much objection to the loss of life on the Confederate side. This week the country tabled a bill to review its relationship with Pretoria.

Article 13 of South Africa’s Bill of Rights expressly forbids slavery, servitude and forced labour, Ours is one of the few constitutions in the world to declaim on this important issue, (not that we ever enforce such prohibitions, nor care about labour rights in the face of a seven day work week?)

Yet such are the blinkers provided by the likes of Minister Naledi Pandor, whose speech to a rousing audience of Pro-Palestine congregants at the Masjid al-Quds this week, painted a rather different picture. Wearing a hijab she claimed to not know who ISIS is despite the fact the SANDF are currently engaged in a SADC operation against ISIS in Mocambique? Later at SONA she claimed anyone opposing her views is an “Israeli agent”. She may as well be living on Pluto, since becoming a roving plutocrat?

I’ve written extensively about her many dropped narratives, half-truths, redacted quotations, outright lies and failure to defend the non-aligned movement of which Mandela, a bipartisan on the conflict, and founder of our country was very much a part. If you are not yet familiar, take a tour of this page: Everything You Know about Palestine is Wrong. Or read my unanswered letters here, and here.

The idea that South African solidarity transforms the intractable religious conflict into the 21 century equivalent of the anti-apartheid movement is magical-thinking at best.

Take any metric associated with human rights under Gaza’s Hamas regime: whether the rights of women, LGBT or the disabled, and one can only come to the conclusion — if the Jihadists were to win the war, the entire region would be universally, an area governed by autocrats, dictators, religious police and clerical militia. In short MENA would be bereft of Jews (as it already is) but without any of the necessary conditions for a sustainable, or moral existence as many at St Georges Cathedral would like to call it.

And let’s not neglect to consider what a future Pandora-sponsored, ICJ legal determination may bring, especially one that delivers us all the paradox of a “Protected Jihad” for a “Protected People” ?

In this situation under the general abrogation of religious freedom (freedom from the religion of others) effected via martyrdom and self-sacrifice, alongside the removal of core rights and fundamental freedoms we take for granted, (Yes those Zionists deserve their liberty as much as Palestinians) nobody will be allowed to oppose Houthi slavery, nor the Hamasist fantasy, that Palestinians (former citizens of British Palestine) are the ‘Chosen People’, in a weird inversion of the ancient texts associated with the Judeo-Christian canon?

That many contemporaries are rewriting the Holy Book, as if the Canaanites (who occupied all of what is now modern Syria) or the Philistines (who once occupied Gaza), having long since exited history, are the victors is abundantly clear. We would be better off if all religious texts were simple abolished and ‘G-d did not exist’ or ‘G-d is dead’, for all intents and purposes.

In such a battle of competing monotheisms, competing definitions of who is entitled to be a Jew or a Christian or a Muslim, and who is not under Pandora’s Grand Inquisition, there is only one winner, and that will be the group which succeeds in winning the battle over narrative.

Take note: I have merely the fate of my own humble byline to consider, rendered as it has been, by a Marxist Pretoria in ways that make the apartheid regime seem like quaint liberals compared to the machinations of the current bureaucrats in office. Freedom of the press in my country has long been ripped asunder by the Independent Group and its opposition to the outcome of WW2.

READ: Quo Vadis, whither South Africa’s Religious Freedom?

Paradox of the Gatekeepers of War

THE WORLD is embroiled in a conflict over the meaning of war, the right of self-defense, non-aggression and armed struggle, the very institutions of peace, justice and global harmony. Having taken Israel to the ICJ and gained interim measures, none of which involve a direct ceasefire order (the only tangible step, an order for the release of hostages — for Israel to report and abide by the convention), we are all stuck kicking a can of worms down the road.

Our country has failed to extract any compliance with the ICJ order from Hamas. Though Naledi Pandor has been robust in her criticism of Israel, urging the Security Council to enforce the convention, and South Africa may have some influence with the Palestinians, it has delivered nothing solid from any of the organizations whose beleaguered citizens it champions.

As Hamas leaders fly to Cairo to discuss a possible truce, and UN aid agency UNWRA is embroiled in a controversy surrounding the documented participation of its members in the tragic events of 7/10, we all become entangled in a power-play with Israel over the terms of the ‘Genocide Convention’ with world media attention turning to the plight of Jews within South Africa. Since the preliminary hearing, there have been several controversies involving a cricket captain, utterances by the Chief Rabbi, and even a debacle involving the wearing of a Star of David by a City of Johannesburg councilor.

If Pandor’s interpretation of the ICJ interim order means the Palestinian people are now a ‘protected group’, does it follow that their ongoing Jihad against Israel is similarly protected? Is the global Inquisition of Jewish Identity under the rubric of ‘Zionism vs Anti-Zionism’ even lawful, and is South Africa protecting its own citizens from religious-motivated attack?

The woke left have certainly not risen up to defend secular rights and freedoms for all, those who claim like the Proctors of Salem, to be able to tell a ‘Zionist from a Non-Zionist’, or a Witch from a Non-Witch, have not been forthcoming when it comes to protecting the universal rights of those under their immediate purview. To paraphrase, Sartre (after Voltaire), if the Zionist did not exist, the Anti-Zionist would have created him.

Any one of these subjects would ordinarily elicit a response, deserving of an essay or two. I hope they do. But for now, let me address this nugget:

An Almighty Rabble: Rabbi and Counter-Rabbi?

An organisation calling itself ‘South African Jews for a Free Palestine‘ released a statement this morning on Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein’s utterances throwing shade on the ANC, alleging ‘Iran is funding South Africa’s case and SA banks may be acting as conduits for terrorism’.

Jo Bluen posted “Rabbi Goldstein has acted as a gatekeeper of Judaism in South Africa. He has rejected the Jewish identity of people who belong to non-Orthodox Jewish communities and has been known to “encourage the institutionalisation of certain Ultra Orthodox customs within the community”.

The statement goes on to list a number of issues to do with language, colonialism and allegations of ‘lack of pluralism’. Is the Chief Rabbi whistling while Gaza is burning?

Unfortunately it is not simply the Chief Rabbi, but South Africa’s legal system which has issued similar determinations that otherise and exclude Jews outside the fold.

I for my part have been anathematized by a racist 2010 finding that since I am a “Jew in breach of my religion” I cannot claim anti-Semitism on the basis of an outrageous inquisition of identity by a party whose disciples see fit to define ‘who is and who is not a Jew’, who is authentically Jewish and who is not. Both Spinoza and Trotsky received similar treatment.

JFP claim: “Not only has Rabbi Goldstein himself refused to attend events that have platformed non-Orthodox rabbis and leaders but he has also implored other Orthodox Jewish leaders to do the same in the spirit of rejecting pluralistic attitudes. These include events with talks and panels on topics including Progressive Judaism, LGBTQ+ belonging in the context of Torah, and gender egalitarianism – which might be considered among the “liberal values” he claims that Apartheid Israel defends. Rabbi Goldstein’s reluctance to engage with these issues within the context of Orthodox Judaism, and his support for the active suppression of this engagement, only serves to uphold the legacy in many Orthodox Jewish communities of exclusion, queerphobia and misogyny. This environment has led to many queer Orthodox Jews having to leave their families to find belonging, and at least one recent case of death by suicide.

The criticism is certainly justified, but I suggest it would be better directed at our Judge President, the same justice system which upheld a 2009 order banning the Dalai Lama.