Why would a former liberation movement turned into a popular democratic government roll out a red carpet for arch-right-wingers?
Why indeed does such a government risk alienating important alliance partners and a substantial number of civic organizations by hosting archetypal racists engaged in ethnic-cleansing?
These questions reflect a sense of bewilderment amongst South Africans of all persuasions and political affiliations at the decision by the Mbeki government to press ahead with the visit by Israel’s deputy-premier Ehud Olmert.
While no coherent reasons have been advanced apart from the rhetoric of “dialogue”, it is clear that the apartheid state of Israel has been quick to exploit the ambiguity of one-sided “dialogue”.
This bizarre scene becomes all the more incredulous if one realizes that those with whom “dialogue” is necessary are either brutally slaughtered or incarcerated in Zionist jails. They are dehumanized as “vermin” and “cockroaches”. They have been dispossessed and systematically dismembered. Two-thirds of their people have been forcibly exiled with their right of return refused by the Olmert/Sharon gang of thugs.
It makes a mockery of the concept of “dialogue” when the image of an ailing icon of the Palestinian struggle, Yasser Arafat remains imprisoned in his Ramallah compound. The irony of a terrorist turned statesman with the promise of being a President of a glorified Bantustan, confined to his Palace further reveals the farce of the Olmert visit.
While the spin has been on “dialogue”, the real purpose of his visit is to secure an agreement for the protection and promotion of investments. It seems probable that this visit and ratification of trade ties were discussed and agreed upon a few weeks ago when members of the ruling Likud party were hosted by Pretoria.
Olmert’s visit has nothing to do with “dialogue” and everything to do with Israel self-interest. Not only does it need to salvage its economy, which is in tatters, it also needs to improvise its pariah status.
There can be no doubt that Israel is increasingly feeling isolated and awkward at repeatedly having to invoke old clichÃ©s to justify ongoing devastation of high density civilian populations in Gaza. How does one justify such barbarism?
More embarrassing for the Jewish state is the fact that its support base amongst well meaning Jews in South Africa and elsewhere is eroding at a rapid rate.
Aliyah too has fallen while tourism is at an all time low despite frantic efforts to counter this phenomenon.
Sharon’s alarmist calls on SA and French Jews to make aliyah has also fallen on deaf ears. Apart from some who swapped Sandton for Tel Aviv, and Paris for Haifa, the vast majority refused to be intimidated by false fabricated fear.
While he struts about from one more economic deal to another, Ehud Olmert has not lost any of his well known traits of arrogance, conceit and triumphalism. So too have journalists grasped his ungenerous and humiliating account of powerless Palestinians.
To the many that are familiar with Edward Said’s eloquent essays on Palestine, it will come as no surprise to read that almost a decade ago, he singled out Ehud Olmert –” then mayor of Jerusalem –” as the provocateur responsible for reopening a tunnel beneath the noble sanctuary known as the al-Haram al-Sharif.
Since Israel has effectively ended the “peace process” or whatever else it may have been called in different stages of its mutations, it desperately seeks new crutches to lean on. Should South Africa be that crutch?