Dear Ms Naledi Pandor

Dear Ms Naledi Pandor,

Your campaign to exclude the Jewish African Diaspora from the African Union refers.

That I live in a country with an egregious history of involvement and support for Hitler’s policies of mass extermination of Jews, should not have to be the starting point for a debate in South Africa. Yet, I am forced to remind you that it was then Minister of Interior, DF Malan who introduced both the Quota Act (1930) and Aliens Act (1937), restricting Jewish employment and also Jewish immigration to South Africa.

A National Party membership card of the time carries both the Swastika and the words: “The South African National Party emanates from the S.A. gentile National-Socialist movement and incorporates the said movement as also the SA Grey Shirts”.

The resulting political formation was the selfsame movement which introduced apartheid race laws defining our country’s citizens in terms of race criteria — criteria modelled upon Hitler’s own Nuremberg Laws.

Between 1933 and 1941, the Nazi policy of judenrein (cleansing of Jews) aimed to remove the German Jewish population “by making life so difficult for them that they would be forced to leave the country”. By 1938, about 150,000 German Jews, ‘had already fled the country with many Jews unable to find countries willing to take them in’.

The plight of the SS Stuttgart, a ship carrying 537 Jewish refugees is illustrative of the problem. Chartered to beat the ban imposed by the Aliens Act, it was opposed in Cape Town harbour by DF Malan’s Grey Shirts, who subsequently held several meetings on the “Jewish Problem”, addressed by HF Verwoerd and TE Donges, who exclaimed: ‘The Jew is an insoluble element in every national life.’ [1]

The Évian Conference was convened 6–15 July 1938 at Évian-les-Bains, France, to address the problem of German and Austrian Jewish refugees wishing to flee persecution by Nazi Germany. Attended by 32 countries, with South Africa apparently in observer status, our country agreed to “taking only those with close relatives already resident”, in the process condemning many of the Holocaust’s victims.

Last year Israel was granted observer status by the African Union — 46 AU Member States already have relations with Israel including our own, and the resolution has the support of a majority of its members. In so doing, the Chairperson of the AU affirmed the union’s “positive role of mediator to the conflict.”

Nevertheless South Africa’s policy towards Israel, consistent with Mandela’s bipartisan support for a two-state solution, was taken to task by the vocal Palestinian Lobby within the country. The result is that your government currently opposes the presence of Israel within the AU and now comprises a minority group of 21 nations so opposed.

A recent Constitutional Court decision (SAHRC on behalf of SAJBD v Masuku and Another) affirmed the right of Jewish South Africans to an identity which includes affinity with the State of Israel. Counsel for the SAHRC stated that the word Zionist “in the South African context means Jew because the vast majority of South African Jews are Zionist”.

Whether or not you take issue as I do with current definitions of Zionism — whether as a religious, political or secular philosophy, is beside the point.

The fact remains that Israel itself possesses a considerable African population, comprising Ethiopian and Maghrebi Jews i.e. North African Jews who are “native Jews who had traditionally lived in the Maghreb region of North Africa”, and others, comprising some 3.3% of the total population.

There also exists a sizeable population of Jews in Africa, such as the Ogoni from Ogoniland in Nigeria,​ ​Abayudaya in​ ​Uganda and Zimbabweans, who to some extent are recognised by the Orthodox Rabbinate, following completion of religious victuals, but who are otherwise discriminated against by the Israeli Beth Din.

Our own country has a relatively small Jewish diaspora, with Non-Theist Jews such as myself, a minority within a minority.

To those who persist in pursuing an abhorrent apartheid doctrine, within South Africa, for instance, by claiming all Jews should be classified as white for the purposes of population registration, but be nevertheless discriminated against when it comes to our secular rights and freedoms, I can only state, that my own children are very much Rainbows and people of color.

Instead of campaigning to remove Israel from the AU, supposedly to pressure the Israeli government when it comes to the dispute over the Final Status of Jerusalem, I suggest that your time could be better spent tackling the lack of rights and representation of black Jews within the African Union.

Instead of embarking upon a path which leads directly into a confrontation with the majority of AU members, in order to pursue a territorial conflict in which Arab states were awarded some 65% of the territory of Ottoman Palestine, only to dispute the remaining 35% awarded under the British Mandate and UN partition plan, may I suggest that you could a lot better by removing sanctions against your own citizens — unlawful sanctions against persons such as myself who do not currently possess a right to a secular identity due to the prognostications of your own political, religious and legal emirs.

Take a look at a map of Palestine supplied by the Ottoman Railway Company showing that Palestine once included what is today Southern Lebanon, parts of Syria and the East Bank of the Jordan, before you rush to defend the Anti-Semitic supercessionist movement called Hamas.

Instead of cynically expressing solidarity with a Palestinian sectarian organisation which seeks to create a ‘Palestine within Palestine’, currently lacks a Freedom Charter and which is fundamentally opposed to LGBTIQ rights, you could do far better by creating a safe and open space for both parties to the conflict to witness African Ubuntu and the democratic processes within the AU.

If you wish to raise any issues with regard to the above, please do not hesitate.

Sincerely yours,

David Robert Lewis

Notes

  1. incapable of being dissolved into a solution.

SEE: Remarks of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on the granting of observer state to the State of Israel

Israel Amnesty Report, an exercise in ellipsis and paradox

THERE is an astonishing contradiction at the heart of the latest Amnesty International Report on Israel, one deserving further analysis. Resolving it, could be the key to unlocking a potential solution. Ignoring it, could mean, business as usual, since the document’s omission of history and demographic context, makes the report in all likelihood, an exercise in futility.

Prior to 2018 and the passing of ‘Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People“, by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s raison d’être was exactly, as the didactic law maintains, to provide a nation-state for the Jewish people. Yet there was always hope that the country could achieve a lot more for all its citizens. As a cosmopolitan and democratic hub in the Middle East, it had pretensions at being just like any Secular Western country, a melting pot of divergent interests.

It was successive Intifadas beginning in 1987, which put paid to this notion. The reason can be seen by the manner in which Amnesty International treats the issue of nationality, preferring to tackle the problem from the perspective of a proposed, single unitary state, one which ignores the logic of Islamic Jihad, and Palestinian separatism, all while holding to a UN-sponsored fiction that Israel occupies Gaza, for the purpose of analysis.

Thus Palestinians in Gaza, according to Amnesty are being denied their rights to become Israeli citizens, at the same time they are being denied their rights to become Palestinians in a country that includes all of the territory under the former British Mandate.

The same is true in the West Bank, where the issue of nationality, passports and permanent resident status are compounded by an ongoing dispute involving land and borders, one that revolves around a centuries old teleological crisis involving the City of Jerusalem. To put this another way, it is a crisis within monotheism, as to which monotheistic religion prevails at the end of the day.

In recent years there have been a number of attempts to apply UN definitions of the ‘crime of apartheid’ under international law to the conflict. I have written about some of these earlier, mostly misguided endeavours to impose pseudo-scientific race definitions onto the situation [1], and have routinely objected to the resulting category error, since clearly nations are not races. There is no distinct Palestinian ‘race’.

Page 7:
[Amnesty International] does not seek to argue that…any system of oppression and domination as perpetrated in Israel…is…the same or analogous to the system of segregation, oppression and domination as perpetrated in South Africa between 1948 and 1994.

Page 211:
Amnesty International has analyzed Israel’s intent to create and maintain a system of oppression and domination over Palestinians and examined its key components: territorial fragmentation; segregation and control…It has concluded that this system amounts to apartheid.

Thank you Whoopi, your statement demonstrates an important point of departure in our common struggle

SOME get what Whoopi was trying to say: ‘Slavery wasn’t about race, Apartheid wasn’t about race, the Holocaust wasn’t about race. It was about man’s inhumanity to man.’ (Or in the case of Leni Riefenstahl, woman’s inhumanity to woman). Except, that wasn’t exactly what she was saying. The wording is mine. The actor and talk-show host, wasn’t drawing a humanistic lesson from Hitler’s Final Solution, a universal truth that could apply equally to slavery, apartheid, the Rwandan Genocide.

Instead she was responding to the school-banning of Art Spiegelman’s Maus by a Tennessee School Board. And engaging in a trite intellectual exercise that often begins by downplaying the profound impact of Auschwitz, (why get hot and bothered by the banning of a comic book?), a dramatic intervention which then proceeds to ignore the role of the perpetrators, in order to raise an anti-racist point or two about Israel.

Absent the Holocaust, and the Nakba seems to be a terrible, singular tragedy unleashed upon innocent civilians by Jews on holiday from Eastern Europe. Absent the 1929 Hebron Massacre, subsequent 1941 Farhud Massacre, and especially the complicity of Palestinian leadership during the 1940s and 50s in pursing a ‘definitive solution to the Jewish problem’ — a broad campaign to remove Jews from Arabia articulated by Amin al-Husseini, and the result looks a lot like apartheid South Africa.

Whoopi’s ‘inhumanity to mankind’ spiel, is often trotted out whenever the privileged ‘woke’ few, wish to castigate the Zionists for defending their attempts to create, what they claim, is a secular safe haven for Jews. Since I am a non-theist and non-Zionist, I often used to engage in exactly the same type of rhetoric. Whoopi was being rhetorical, she was not adding, so much as subtracting from an important conversation, one which needs to begin by drawing humanistic and universal lessons from history.

Unfortunately the conversation around Maus, was not the correct moment to be doing this. It was downright offensive and insensitive. Amidst the resulting twitter backlash, Whoopi was forced to apologise and has been suspended from her show The View, for two weeks.

If there is a universal truth to be drawn from Belsen and Treblinka, it is not by denial of Hitler’s attempts to create an Aryan master-race. It is not by denial of the Nuremberg race classification laws, nor denial of the Nazi’s attempts to cast persons as superior and inferior.

It is by examining the manner in which pseudo-science and cherry-picking of facts are abused by crackpots on the far right, and also by misguided individuals on the left, and realising that Hitler’s propaganda machine had a massive role to play in creating the necessary conditions for the genocide, not simply one or two bloody massacres listed in the hundreds, but rather an industrial-scale effort to affect the euthanasia of an entire population in the millions — the sheer magnitude of which is mind-boggling.

It is often said of the Rwandan Genocide that radio played an important part in the deaths of Tutsis at the hands of the Hutus. Television and social media have become integral players in formulating public opinion. In my own country I have witnessed the emergence of anti-immigrant pogroms and the failure of newshounds and journalists to do anything about prejudice and bias when it comes to debating issues. Need one refer to censorship?

Last year, South Africa was entertained by a controversy surrounding Miss Universe, at the same time our then chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was taken to task for expressing his opinions on a political controversy. This year, we have seen an Emma Watson ‘solidarity’ fiasco (solidarity is ordinarily expressed with persons sharing common values and interests, not those like Hamas, opposed to our constitutional dispensation) and readers will no doubt find much of interest in the latest Amnesty Report on “Apartheid Israel’ (more analysis on this I promise).

When we find ourselves thus regailed by our media, remember there are always two sides to every story, and then there is the truth. Not even during apartheid did we attempt to negate our opponent’s very existence, nor did we advocate the removal of the Boers from an existential perspective. Rather, we arrived at our common peace settlement because we debated and hosted talks, talks which included all parties and all factions, listening to each other’s different perspectives, in arriving at our democratic solution.

Tutu, a leading light of the anti-apartheid movement was no Saint

MANY eulogies following the death of Desmond Tutu exaggerate the Anglican cleric’s post-democratic contribution in the process glossing over serious shortcomings. That Tutu was a leading light in the struggle against apartheid can never be cast in doubt, and I take pride in having marched with him on the famed Cape Town Peace March (1989).

So too, the manner in which Tutu’s civil disobedience campaign tackled 80s beach apartheid and rankled the feathers of the apartheid regime with calculated showmanship and aplomb, and riled later governments.

However, the failure of the leading figure behind our nation’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to do anything tangible in defending the commission’s findings before the courts, must rank as a form of complicity in a regime he otherwise vigorously attacked. 

Primarily a theologian,Tutu’s morality turned out to be incompatible with justice, requiring that we “believe” in an intangible God, and practice Christian forgiveness instead of acting upon our convictions and dealing with reality.

In this sense, Tutu’s position, (aside from his use of satire and laughter as a weapon), was one of ‘speak out but do nothing’. Provide amnesty to those who came clean, but then go the extra mile in awarding de facto blanket amnesty to those who did not. Thus the perpetrators were let off Scott free, while apartheid’s many victims still sit outside our courts without any hope of justice.

In 2015 I filed a case before the Equality Court of South Africa, citing a similar failure by then Minister of Justice Michael Masutho to render any support in a matter affecting the status, prestige and outcome of the TRC.

Having been granted leave to sue Legal Aid SA, I ended up with a decision effectively stating inter alia that since the ‘TRC Report would take a long time to read, it may be ignored’ (see decision para 5 below). As an earlier submission by the second respondent, an apartheid-era media firm maintained, the report was ‘simply a report’ and the commission, ‘merely a commission’. Consequently Tutu was merely the leader of a Sunday School outing, not the figurehead behind our transitional justice system.

Writing this piece on Martin Luther King Day, it is clear that Tutu could have been colossal, someone after whom Holidays are named — if only he was consistent in his outlook, for instance his support of LGBTIQ+ rights and Same-Sex marriage which was entirely absent when it came to expressing solidarity with the cause of Palestinian Nationalism. A movement still opposed to LGBTIQ+ rights, and which much like our own country’s struggle, has decoupled its narrative from the reality of past injustices.

Just why this is so, is all the more poignant in the light of ​a ​UN resolution proposed by Germany and Israel aimed at combating Holocaust denial (and subsequently passed without a vote by the 193-member General Assembly), and follows the school banning of Art Speigelman’s Maus. It needs to be said, Palestinian leadership involvement in Hitler’s Final Solution​​ predated the formation of an All-Palestine government in Gaza by Amin al-Husseini.​

A foremost proponent of replacement theology, Tutu’s support of the Anglican Covenant which views the Church as the colonial inheritor of the Old Testament’s Hebrew Covenant was perhaps Tutu’s only political constancy. Thus Tutu preached Freedom for Palestinians whilst denying there was anything at fault with the Palestinian leadership which had earlier signed a pact with the Devil as it were, collaborating with none other than Adolf Hitler in pursuing a Jew-free Arab world, and campaigning as Hamas does to this day, for a world without Jews.

It was to my dismay that Tutu refused to engage with those like myself who view the ongoing conflict as a tragic case of ‘injustice vs injustice’ or to use the words of writer Amos Oz, a situation of ‘competing juridical systems’.  And thus a never-ending war being fought by adults against children.

The world is poorer for the African clerics’ prejudiced conclusions — Tutu’s failure to link the struggles of the Tibetan people with the struggles of those Palestinians who still suffer under occupation, and yet have been unable to advance their cause because of an abject failure to articulate a secular solution, one which does not negate nor deny the rights of minority religions.

Despite his insistence on meeting the Dalai Lama, amidst his government’s own intransigence on the issue, and his open support of the Ba’hai faith in Iran, Tutu paid lip-service to secularism and never managed to escape the Anglican cloister of easy homilies, cheap platitudes and hackneyed sermons that cast the Jews as simple stereotypes and the Palestinians as lost sheep in need of guidance into the greater body of Christ.

Tutu’s political sermons on the subject of the Middle East, in the absence of a Palestinian Freedom Charter, must therefore rank alongside those of earlier Popes and Bishops who painted Jews as apostates and heretics and the Jewish faith as heresy. Tutu’s astonishing failure to defend the TRC Report should be listed as one of the root causes of the current malaise affecting our society.

It is a harsh criticism I know, and may be unpalatable to some, but as the saying goes, ‘if the shoe fits, wear it’.

What if Israel didn’t exist? Isacowitz vs Shain

CONTRIBUTIONS by two correspondents published on Politicsweb demonstrate the diametrically opposed views on the existence of Israel as a “democratic state with a Jewish character”. Roy Iscawowitz has taken Milton Shain to task for reiterating the manner in which the country sprung to life after the United Nations sponsored commission on the [British] Mandate then held by the colonial powers.

Shain argues “In the context of two peoples fighting over the same territory, partition of the [British] Mandate was seen as the reasonable and moral option by the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP). It complied with regnant notions of national self-determination.”

He further claims the real reason why the ANC deplores Israel is because of its hostility to Jewish secular identity, its failure to consider Israel was born in recognition of two national movements – an Arab/Palestinian and a Jewish movement – within British Mandate Palestine.” He says: “Those supporting partition knew they were supporting the creation of a Jewish state, alongside an Arab/Palestinian state.”

Isacowitz on the other hand maintains the formation of the Israeli state constitutes an original sin, a political programme to remove the native Arab population, and thus a situation which can only be rectified by turning Israel into an Arab State within a constellation of other Arab states. “To me it’s obvious that Israel was founded on the basis of ethnic preference (which today would be called apartheid.) That’s clear from the policy of “Hebrew labor” (also called “conquest of labor”), which was code for separate development..”

Isacowitz quotes at length without providing any citations from “A State at any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion” written by Tom Segev, while Shain suggests “those interested in a serious analysis can do no better than to read Israel and the Family of Nations, by Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein.”

There is a plethora of work on the subject of Israel and Palestine, with most falling into either one of two essentialist camps — those who believe Israel should exist, as a state with a “Jewish character” and who accurately follow the events of the Nazi Holocaust, and those who wish to dislocate the tragedy and instead focus solely on the Nakba, a ‘tragedy of equal proportions’ for the Arab world.

Isacowitz asserts “I won’t challenge his conclusion that the ANC is anti-Semitic. What I will challenge, though, is his attempt to portray Israel as a run-of-the mill country – no different from many others – without even bothering to come to grips with the fact that is has now held the Palestinians of the occupied territories hostage for longer than formal apartheid existed in South Africa.”

Both perspectives deserve due consideration. Should Arabs gain more land than was granted them when the British Mandate was partitioned to form Jordan for instance? Or the French Mandate was unwound to form Syria? Virtually nothing is said these days about the Pan-Arab flag waved at Palestinian rallies, or the San Remo conference in which the Ottoman Empire was broken up, and thus decisions which predate both the formation of the Arab League and the State of Israel. I digress.

What if Israel did not exist? Would the result be a democratic state in which many of the rights we take for granted, LGTBIQ+ rights and freedom of the press, were protected? It is considered a stock Zionist response to any counter-assertion, to simply illustrate the manner in which the Arab states have failed miserably to guarantee fundamental freedoms even to their own minorities.

So let’s consider this problem another way. Do the rejectionists (those who eschew Jewish rights to self-determination), and who were forcibly removed from places like Haifa by the United Nations following partition, and in some instances driven out of Israel by David ben Gurion during the War of Independence, deserve to return?

One can only suggest that it would behove the Palestinian cause if there was a Freedom Charter, much like our own– a political programme guaranteeing rights and freedom for all. Instead, all we see by the Hamas Charter, and the de facto policies of Fatah is the stark reality — the only resolution on the table, is a demand that Jews resume their pre-war status as Dhimmi — people of the book, subjects under an Islamic state with a nominally ‘democratic character’.

[Disclosure: This writer is banned by polticsweb due to his views on Fees Must Fall]

UPDATE: Shain’s response to Isacowitz

BDS beauty rhetoric removes women & gay rights

THE MISS UNIVERSE pageant was not the subject of a boycott when it was held in apartheid South Africa. In fact, the oft referred to event never occurred, and was never scheduled. Our country does not appear as a location on the list of Miss Universe pageants held every year since 1952 — except for a sole 1996 event which was mooted for Johannesburg but then shifted to the USA.

Although some contestants refused to participate in various international pageants if the then Miss South Africa attended, none were barred by their respective governments. They thus exercised their freedom of choice.

The organisers behind the campaign to remove Miss South Africa from the competition being held in Israel this year would like us to believe that similar government actions were taken against the self-same beauty pageant held in apartheid South Africa. It is only the 1996 Miss Universe event which was scheduled to be held in the country, two years after the first democratic elections, but which was later moved.

The blatant denial of the rights of Lalela Mswane, a black woman to decide her fate for herself, especially when it comes to political issues, is both patronising and racist. In a televised interview Palestine4Africa’s Bram Hanekom, upbraids Mswane’s decision to attend, insisting that he, as a white male, should decide her future. In a missive published by IOL, he tells Mswane: “Do as you are told”.

Hanekom claims that since boycotts were used to good measure as one of the many tools of the anti-apartheid movement, similar strategies will be equally effective in ‘gaining rights for Palestinians’. He appears oblivious to the fact that if such an event had been held in the country during the height of apartheid, no black contestants would have been allowed to attend.

The first official Miss South Africa pageant held in 1956 was only open to “white” (Caucasian) females and was organized to send a representative to London for the Miss World pageant”. That year Norma Vorster was crowned Miss South Africa. Two years later, Penny Coelen, was crowned and would later go on to win Miss World. It was not until 1977 that all persons of all races were allowed to compete in the Miss SA competition. “Prior to that, people of colour competed in the Miss Africa South pageant, which was renamed Miss Black South Africa in 1977.”

It is unclear what the goals of the BDS affiliated campaign are — whether or not they are campaigning to effectively end women’s rights in Israel, or merely seek to maintain the status quo viz vi LGTBIQ rights in the region, a situation in which Gay rights are restricted in most Arab States and in some cases subject to the death penalty. Apartheid was a policy separating persons according to pseudo-scientific race classification, not national or religious affiliation, and homosexuality was outlawed.

According to Amnesty International (AI), women in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority continue to face discrimination and violence, including killings as a result of gender-based violence. An Hamas-run Islamic court in the Gaza Strip ruled in February that women require the permission of a male guardian to travel. Meanwhile President Mahmoud Abbas amended an election law in March, raising a quota for women in the West Bank, Palestinian Authority legislature to 26%, not the promised 30%, and still a long way away from the 50% female quotient of the population.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, & transgender (LGBT) persons in the “State of Palestine” face legal challenges and discrimination not experienced by non-LGBT residents. An AI 2020 report on Palestine states: “Section 152 of the Penal Code in Gaza criminalizes [male] consensual same-sex sexual activity and makes it punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.” In 2019, the Palestinian Authority (i.e., West Bank) police banned the activities of queer and feminist rights organization Al Qaws and demanded that residents report ‘suspicious’ activities.

Injustice cannot be overcome by Injustice. Forward to a Freedom Charter for the Middle East. Forward to human rights for all. #StandBySecularism

SEE: Former Miss Iraq supports Miss SA for not quitting Miss Universe pageant in Israel

[published in part by Cape Argus and Daily News 23 November 2020]

LETTER: The DA is becoming the poster child of the Right, refers

Dear Ed


The DA is becoming the poster child of the Right, (Mail & Guardian 18 October 2021) refers


Steven Friedman claims to be a ‘political scientist’. Though his career and professorship may appear to chart a course within South Africa’s academic establishment, he merely demonstrates the parochialism which reigns at these institutions.

A case in point is the manner in which Friedman has taken it upon himself to be the ‘pre-eminent analyst within the country of the British Labour Party (BLP)’

I write this letter, not to take issue with the professor’s opinions on the Democratic Alliance, but rather to point out the manner in which the man’s criticism of local politics has descended into a false and misleading indictment of the BLP. 

That Friedman cannot distinguish between the polices of either the Tories nor Labour for that matter, and thus conflate both parties with the Democratic Alliance (DA), is par for the course. More alarming, is his general thesis on ​”current campaigns against ‘antisemitism’ in Western Europe and the United States​” —  campaigns which he alleges are not aimed at racial and religious bigotry, but are rather ‘quite the opposite of their stated intentions’.

​In his latest piece he states​: ​“Power holders who not so long ago were keeping Jews out of clubs and limiting their number at universities claim to be so angered at anti-Jewish prejudice that they have passed laws to prevent it. But this is not a newfound non-racialism. The campaign is really about protecting the Israeli state, which has become a favourite among the bigoted – including some who really are antisemites – because it discriminates against Palestinians. Conveniently, branding supporters of Palestinian rights as racists can also be used to hound left-wingers out of the British Labour Party. To oppose racist treatment of Palestinians is to be branded a racist.​”​

The ‘left-wingers’ he refers to are none other than past BLP leader Jeremy Corbyn and his allied supporters. Friedman’s blatantly dishonest account of the matter has been previously published in New Frame.
Lies about Corbyn surely deserve a careful examination of the truth?

When the Equality and Human Rights Commission report into anti-Semitism in Corbyn’s Labour party was released, it was damning, writes Jay Elwes in The Article. “Facing allegations of anti-Jewish racism, the report said Corbyn’s Labour was “responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” in an attempt to counter and dismiss those claims.”

The report found there were ‘three especially egregious breaches of the Equalities Act’, including: Political interference in anti-Semitism complaints; a failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints; and harassment.

This is a far cry from Friedman’s ​fanciful version of events.​

According the Friedman, not only was there no evidence of anti-Semitism inside the British Labour Party, but ‘the closest (the report) comes to finding that anti-Jewish racism is a problem in Labour is the claim that some in the party use “antisemitic tropes” and say that “complaints of antisemitism [are] fake or smears”.

Corbyn was thus an innocent ‘victim of a trick’, he claims, one which ‘has been used for years in the United States and here to portray racial redress as racist. Less well known is that it is now used to paint opponents of racism as antisemites, people who despise Jews.

That Friedman was ignoring serious complaints made on the left regarding harassment of members of the Jewish Labour Movement (an anti-racist group) which had resulted in 7 MPs including Chuka Umunna, a black MP leaving the party last year is clear.

He thus continues to trot out a well-known criticism of the right, (‘mere tropes’) in an attempt to smear ‘black Labour’, as hopelessly tied to Israel, while promoting Corbyn’s reinstatement as leader of the party.

The only trick here is Friedman’s own chicanery and mendacity in attributing race to Jews and thus reducing all adherents to Judaism, to the status of simulacra. People who ‘look like they could be Jews’.

It is a common tactic of race-obsessed critics to focus attention on ‘Jews of European origin’, whilst forgetting there is a mosaic of difference within the Jewish diaspora, which includes inter alia Jews of Ethiopian, Nigerian and South African origin. Nations are not races, and rather the issue here is one of ethnicity.

In 2018 I wrote an open letter to Friedman questioning his apparent expertise on the subject of Jewish identity, his neglect of issues relating to secularism, and the problem of ‘who gets to decide who is Jewish or not?’ He failed to respond and continues to issue forth with blatantly false allegations, allegations which have not been tested in any court.

I have only to reiterate my own experience with racism and Anti-Semitism at Media24, to demonstrate, the lay issues at stake, have absolutely nothing to do with Zionism per se, nor the tedious opinions formulated by shoddy academics, over whether or not a Palestinian or Jewish State has a right to exist (why not?). But rather the manner in which open debate on the subject of Jewish secular identity in general and Anti-Semitism in particular, is circumscribed and defined by self-appointed political apparatchiks such as Friedman.

As Thomas Jefferson once stated: ‘I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.’

South Africa is a secular state with a “We, the People’ constitution. The phrase “In humble submission to almighty, God” was removed from earlier drafts of the constitution, and is a well-established narrative recorded by Judge Albie Sachs.


Kind regards


David Robert Lewis

[Letter unpublished]

Letter: Seth Rogen: ‘I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel’ refers

Dear Ed,

Seth Rogen: ‘I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel’ refers

As an anti-war activist opposed to the abuse of the term ‘apartheid’ in the Middle East, I wish to respond to the latest binary correspondence on Israel and Palestine carried by The Guardian. In particular I wish to point out the tendency by either parties to the conflict to view the other in Manichean terms.

The resulting dualistic cosmology describing ‘a struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness’, has plagued the religious conflict over the final status of Jerusalem, for decades and is not helpful in arriving at a secular solution.

Like the actor Rogen, I too once believed that everything I had been told by my Jewish father was wrong. During the 80s I found the Rabbinical references to the biblical stories told of King David and the construction of the Temple inconsistent with the 1982 invasion of South Lebanon by the IDF under the government of Menachem Begin.

During my years as a student activist and member of the South African Union of Jewish Students, I drew parallels between the SADF invasion of Angola, and became an outspoken critic of Israel military aid to apartheid South Africa.

I was fed Fatah propaganda related to the Nakba and ended up believing that colonialist adventurism by European settlers was the cause of the problem, while Palestinians were the innocent victims. I even publically renounced my right to return as an Orthodox Jew after the construction of the separation barrier in 2000.

Several beatings by Jordanian-Palestinian immigrants and self-styled Palestinian activists set the stage for an end to my delusion. Nevertheless I still persisted in my Anti-Zionist views, attended various rallies, met with a group of Palestinian doctors and even appeared at a UCT seminar hosted by members of Fatah. There I was told the problems were the ‘Jews, Jews, Jews.’

The narrative provided by the PLO began to unravel shortly after I became the subject of a religious inquisition by a corrupt ANC official in 2009/2010, some of the details of which are available in my self-published Amazon book, ‘Life in a Time of Heretics’.

The final parting of company with the Palestinian version of reality coincided with my rediscovery of the missing narrative of Mizrahi Jews, the stories of dispossession and disenfranchisement suffered by oriental and North African Jews.

In particular my late father’s inability to talk about 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 following the events of 1948, put paid to the notion that this was a singular conflict between good and bad. Between 1920 and 1970, some 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab and other Muslim countries.

Rogen’s revelations reported by Oliver Holmes in the Guardian, that “more than 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes or fled fighting in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation” is thus a one-sided tally given the magnitude of these expulsions and the enormity of the Holocaust.

The inescapable facts surrounding the complicity of Amin el Husseini, then Mufti of Jerusalem, and the resulting controversy also need to be weighed, as too the facts surrounding ‘Dhimmitude’, a permanent state of subjugation by either of the parties.

A 2015 Time magazine article addressing the question of whether or not Husseini was the source of the Final Solution certainly demonstrates the problem of focusing exclusively on the Nakba whilst denying the Holocaust. Not that one should make the cardinal error of assuming that all non-Jewish Palestinians are to blame, or thereby privilege one life more than the other.

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.

The real nail in the coffin of apartheid analogy however, is when one realises that 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 admittedly, European Jews, to euthanasia camps in Poland.

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 Rogen and Holmes motivate by implication, 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 sad case of competing juridical systems.

Like Peter Beinart in the New York Times, I too no longer believe in the Middle East, but can imagine a Jewish home in an equal state.

Whether the result is a binational or plurinational solution is anyone’s guess.

Kind regards

David Robert Lewis

Sorry Ms Butler, you don’t represent me

THE argument that Israel represents the ‘Jews of South Africa’, often made by members of the SAJBD is as fallacious as the equal assertion that BDS and its leadership represent the diversity of Jewish history and culture, in particular the legacy of Jewish activists during the freedom struggle.

A letter by a US academic Judith Butler written to UCT and published by the Mail & Guardian, ironically refers readers to a committed Zionist and treason trialist, Arthur Goldreich, alongside a liberal supporter of Israel sovereignty, Helen Suzman. This in order to embroider upon an evolving work of fiction — the false analogy between the ongoing struggle of the Palestinians and our own country’s struggle against apartheid.

Butler maintains, that “BDS draws on longstanding traditions, some of which were importantly developed in the context of the struggle against apartheid”. While the two struggles may appear similar in mode at the surface, there are significant and important divergences, differences which we disregard at our peril.

For starters, the South African struggle was an epic battle against colonialism and white domination in support of democracy and secularism. Activists such as myself were pitted against a white regime which was theocratic, undemocratic and avowedly Christian in outlook.

Butler goes on to write: “Let us not forget the large numbers of Jews who have fought in social justice struggles, including the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa (Joe Slovo, Arthur Goldreich, Ruth First, Albie Sachs, Helen Suzman), who contest the radical inequalities that form the basis of Israel’s claim of Jewish sovereignty and its claim to maintain Jewish demographic advantage at all costs.”

The claims made with regard to Goldreich and Helen Suzman are instructive and bear greater consideration. A piece published by Benjamin Pogrund for the Helen Suzman Foundation states: “Use of the apartheid label and repeated references to “genocide” against Palestinians and denunciations of Zionism as “racism” are at best ignorant and naïve and at worst cynical and manipulative.”

Unlike the South African struggle where Jews enjoyed leadership roles, and where persons such as Joe Slovo were in many respects over-represented than other minority groups, both Fatah and Hamas have failed miserably to include Jews in top positions.

Palestinian claims about the alleged “Jewish race” share more in common with the racist objectives and malicious aims of the puritans of the Nationalist Party than the alleged non-racialism of the ANC. To reiterate, nations are not races.

Unlike the Palestinian struggle which lacks any meaningful document such as the Freedom Charter setting out winnable aims and objectives, civil rights for all, the South African situation is rather different, and thus the recipe for achieving a negotiated outcome and peace settlement in our own country was founded upon a winning constitutional formula.

BDS have failed time and again to canvas the opinion of persons either referred to as ‘Jews’ or self-defined as Jewish, in a skewed solidarity politics that ignores the problem of Jewish identity. Butler is only able to espouse her own views because other views and Jewish voices have been silenced by the BDS politburo.

Though Butler’s misguided rhetoric on anti-semitism is to be welcomed, let’s be forthright and stop beating around the bush, anti-semitism is open hostility towards secular Jewish identity.

Attempting to provide a non-violent and anti-racist veneer to a religious struggle in which both sides are informed by religious texts in a battle over the final status of Jerusalem, avoids the open inquiry and evidence-based empirical research that needs to occur if we are understand the many dimensions to the problem.

As a person whose Jewish identity has become the subject of a racist legal inquisition in South Africa at the behest of the perpetrators of apartheid, I therefore do take exception to the banning of opinion and obliteration of independent voices outside of these two diametrically opposed camps, injustice vs injustice.

The experience of BDS campaigns within South Africa itself has not been a pleasant one.

​I can only commend UCT council for not caving into the zealots.​

It is not too late, nor out of the bounds of reason, to embrace a secularist and non-partisan ‘third way’, that avoids scapegoating of those who disagree with leaders and pundits on either side, and which avoids sacrificing democratic freedoms, freedom of speech, while protecting constitutional rights in our own country.

NOTE: For the record, DRL a graduate of UCT Center for African Studies, is opposed to the separation barrier, is in favour of a limited arms embargo against the State of Israel, and does not support any cultural or academic boycott targeting persons of Jewish descent on the basis of our alleged history and identity.

Published in part by Mail and Guardian 12/04/2019

Response by David Saks of SAJBD 18/04/2019

SEE: Ronnie’s Sermon from the Grand Masjid

SEE: Dear Steven Friedman

SEE: BDS Abolition of the Right to Dissent 

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.