Minister Pandora: South Africa is sleepwalking into a catastrophe

NOT content with promoting human rights (an objective which seems to change from country to country), 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?

EFF confirm religious dimension to conflict in Israel/Palestine

WITHOUT any hint of irony, a press statement issued by political party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) asserts: “History informs us the Temple Mount /Haram el Sharif is one of the most sensitive sites in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in that ‘the hilltop site is the most sacred place in Judaism and the third holiest site in Islam and that the entire compound is considered to be Al-Aqsa Mosque by Muslims.'”

The statement condemns Israel Minister Itamar ben Gavir’s recent visit to the holy site in what the party claims is the ‘unlawfully annexed East Jerusalem city of Palestine”.

The EFF should be aware that South Africa’s constitution enshrines religious freedom within a secular framework, and that supporting discrimination on the basis of religion is contrary to article 15 Freedom of Religion, Belief and Opinion, in particular protection of religious observances, as well as other rights such as freedom of movement and right to assemble peacefully.

The dispute over the final status of Jerusalem predates the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which both sides lay claim to East Jerusalem. Jordan occupied East Jerusalem from 1948-1967, when it was annexed by Israel following the 6-day war resulting from the mass mobilisation of armies in neighbouring Arab States of Egypt, Syria and Jordan.

Prior to 1948 the ‘corpus separatum‘ (Latin for “separated body”) was the internationalization proposal for Jerusalem and its surrounding area as part of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly with a two-thirds majority in November 1947.

According to the Partition Plan, the city of Jerusalem would be brought under international governance, conferring it a special status due to its shared importance for the Abrahamic religions.

The corpus separatum was one of the main issues of the Lausanne Conference of 1949.

SEE: Everything you know about the Palestinian Struggle is wrong

An appeal from the publisher

Dear Friend,

After nearly ten years of an ongoing legal wrangle, involving the apartheid heresy, Jewish secular identity, race identity and press freedom, I’ve resolved to seek an order from the ConCourt, dismissing the De Lange case (Ecclesia De Lange v The Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (726/13) [2014] ZASCA 151 (29 September 2014) now before the Constitutional Court, with costs.

Any motion or order entered into by myself or cojoined partners, would seek to uphold the secular rights and freedoms in our constitution, which inter alia, need to be affirmed and interpreted thus:-

Freedom to not be subjected to inquiries (or interrogations) into ones religion or sexual orientation by the state, church or any other lay or ecclesiastical authority. i.e. an abrogation of the decision in Lewis v Media24 (2010).

Reverend Ecclesia De Lange, a Methodist Preacher had sought an order from the Supreme Court of Appeal against the respondents, the Presiding Bishop and Executive Secretary of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (the Church) setting aside an arbitration agreement between her and the Church, “which had been concluded pursuant to the Laws and Discipline of the Church (the L&D).”

The dispute between the parties has its “genesis in the decision of the Church to suspend the appellant following her announcement to her congregation of her intention to marry her same-sex partner”. The Church recommended that she be “suspended as a minister until such time as the debate within the Church on the permissibility of same-sex marriages is resolved.”

The issues at stake and points of law in question are not whether same-sex marriages or unions are permissible in South Africa, or whether they are contrary to Christianity and Canon Law, but instead involves the problematic separation of Church and State and guarantees to this effect in our constitution.

Does the state have the right to intervene in the affairs of the Church and vice versa?

What exactly are our secular rights and freedoms?

Is the state an ecclesiastical authority?

You may recall that the phrase “In humble submission to Almighty God” was dropped from the preamble to the constitution, which begins “We, the people,” and instead replaced by a simple prayer: “God Bless Africa, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”

South Africa was run as a Christian theocracy during apartheid. In the 20 year period after the first democratic election there have been precious few legal precedents (if any) upholding secular rights and freedoms. The recent scandal involving the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s comments to the affect that “our constitution needs a Christian makeover” should sound warning bells.

The De Lange case is not only scandalizing the courts and the church, but is risking a Counter-Reformation, one that could have the perverse consequence of not only rewriting the Old and New Testament, but also subjecting all and sundry to Christian Canon Law.

In the present South African climate of Christian Normative jurisprudence (with Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng a big fan of the Bible as read by Charismatics and Evangelists) and failure to abide by the most basic secular precepts, this is too big a risk to take. The hearing at the Constitutional Court will examine issues which effect each and every South African and impact upon legal precedent for the foreseeable future. The bases have been loaded in favour of theocracy and Jacob Zuma’s agenda to make the party and state the chief domain of religion in the country.

If we allow Gay Rights to be put on trial alongside Christian theology, as De Lange has sought, we could lose these rights, along with other rights, like the right to dissent from religion. I am thus prepared to risk solidarity with every Gay and Lesbian on the planet, by cutting off Mogoeng at the pass, as it were, and request that you assist me in this endeavor.

My history of support for black emancipation, women’s emancipation and LGBT rights is public record.

The issue isn’t whether or not you can be a Christian and Gay, but rather, should the State intervene in the Church, Synagogue or Mosque and vice versa, i. e. Separation of the different spheres of government, in particular the right to dissent and freedom from religious rule. As Holyoake, the founder of secularism states: Secularism is not the absence of religion, rather it is the absence of religious rule.

The issues of law to be discussed are on the exact same points raised in my 131 page submission to the JSC/Concourt in a complaint that predates the handing down of the De Lange decision at the Supreme Court of Appeal by 11 days in a case which has been ongoing since 2006. The similarities in arguments used by either party are not coincidental and stem from the failure of the Labour Court of South Africa to accept the credentials of a female Jewish Rabbi and Doctor of Hebrew Studies.

Therefore, please help me to kick the problematic De Lange case out of court and to place the De Lange motion, where it belongs, on the scrap heap of history, along with every other Counter-Reformation, and motion for the retraction of the Enlightenment.

Please save our Constitution from those who wish to end the separation of Church and State, for whatever reason, and however so constructed the arguments and the pleadings before our Constitution may be. No to the creeping Counter-Reformation and assertion of the rule of religion over law and vice versa.

Any precedent which nullifies or removes rights in the Bill of Rights, will be a major set-back for human rights as we know it. Creating a broad platform for secular rights and freedoms, by interceding on the behalf of interested and affected parties, will avoid the ConCourt from turning into a religious tribunal. Unless we take urgent action, such a likelihood is inevitable.

Affidavit in support of Interdict


David Robert Lewis
PO BOX 4398
Cape Town
8000
South Africa

Mobile 082 425 1454
Home 021 448 0021

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.

God, Mogoeng & the Secularism debate uncensored

RECENT pronouncements by the Judge President Mogoeng Mogoeng to the effect that South Africa’s constitution needs a Christian makeover, unleashed a storm of commentary from online media. The Christian Democratic Party who don’t even have a seat in parliament were quick to thank him for his kind words in their favour.

That the country has problems giving effect to constitutional guarantees of the separation of powers and religious freedom is clear. Having experienced an 8-year-long legal battle in which my rights to a secular Jewish identity as a journalist have been denied by the Labour Court, I can certainly testify to the many problems faced by South Africans in the aftermath of apartheid theocracy. Secularism is not, as many people commonly hold, the absence of religion, but rather the “principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions and religious dignitaries.”

“One manifestation of secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of belief, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people.” One may quote the coiner of the term, George Holyoake in this regard. “Secularism is a series of principles intended for the guidance of those who find Theology indefinite, or inadequate, or deem it unreliable.”(1)

Will constitutionalism prevail now that the bases are loaded in favour of Christianity?

Although the far right appears to have lost support during the past election, with some notable exits from parliament amongst Islamic-orientated parties, and a decrease in support for the ACDP, the problematic conflation of Church and State remains.

Interestingly enough, our Judge President starts by quoting Thomas Jefferson, no problems there, (Holyoake who is also the coiner of the term “jingoism” would most certainly have agreed with Jefferson) but then he proceeds to quote Lord Denning on the impossibility of there being “morality without religion”, and it is sadly all downhill, surely it is enough to believe in the golden rule of reciprocity that is common to all religions and philosophies? One need not even possess a religion in order to possess ethics. Science itself is not based upon any religious creed. The no-harm principle common to medical practitioners is worth raising in this regard.

Aside from the obvious inferences one may draw from current debates on legal positivism and the scientific method and its effects on the development of law, (or lack thereof) and the post-positivist assumptions of Karl Popper, the judge president appears totally lost in obscurantist Roman Scripture and the Christian conception of the State as some kind of evocation of God’s Will as per St Augustus (aka Augustine of Hippo).

One juicy piece from his address: “”Our safety and well-being as nations equally depends on the realisation and acceptance of the fact, that just as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are co-equal Personalities of the Trinity, so should the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Arms of the State be co-equal partners in the governance of any democratic country. ”

Dangerous stuff for secularists, it would have been better if Mogoeng had simple remained silent and inert, or rather if he had plucked up some courage and embarked upon the clear-headed path of delineating exactly what pluralism and secularism means for the nation’s founders, this in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the 1995-1996 constitutional assembly, the one which was tasked with drafting our nation’s Bill of Rights and which delivered an emancipatory civil rights-based document sans the need to possess religion or religious rule. Instead we end up with a moral canard against everyone who is not a Christian, or at least, not a co-religionist, this despite the rather glib and feeble attempt in his introduction to distance himself from the invariable ruminations of his own liturgy-filled address — one would hazard to pronounce on the problematic introduction of Medieval logic, but there it goes, see the bench’s recent attempts to rebut criticism and the ensuing fall-out.

The Stellenbosch address is thus a sad and sorry peon to cater to current legal dilemmas faced by the judiciary — instead of pronouncing on pluralism within the concept of a Holy Trinity and presumably, the Christian Normative legal system, Mogoeng throws away a sterling opportunity to engage in more appropriate and less divisive discussion on normative pluralism and the common law.

Read Richard Poplak’s piece God Help Us as Mogoeng Moegeng takes the constitution to Church

and a follow-up piece Mogoeng Mogoeng wants God to govern. This time, he’s serious.

Chris Roper’s Christianity is the enemy of Christianity

Ryan Peter’s Thought Leader post Are Today’s Secularists really Secular?

George Devenish, professor emeritus at UKZN who “helped draft the interim constitution in 1993”, I repeat, interim, decries Mogoeng lack of independence, ‘failed to maintain impartiality, independence

Vinayak Bhardwaj  Religious sentiments can’t be allowed to override our Constitution

Zama Ndlovu Mogoeng’s point is best left to others to debate

Pierre de Vos The law vs. religion: Let’s try that again

 
(1) Principles of Secularism, George Holyoake

Here is another choice quote from Holyoake: “”A Secularist guides himself by maxims of Positivism, seeking to discern what is in Nature — what ought to be in morals — selecting the affirmative in exposition, concerning himself with the real, the right, and the constructive. Positive principles are principles which are provable.”