In the wake of the disastrous decision by the Jewish Report to slap a ban on Ronnie Kasrils; apologists for Israel have desperately sought to vilify academic and social activist Salim Vally for sabotaging Benjamin Pogrund’s recent efforts to white-wash Israel at a PSC meeting in Durban, South Africa.
Pogrund, a former journalist in SA, has migrated to Israel and has featured on many occassions as a spokesperson for the Israeli government. His regular forays in defending Israel against charges of apartheid, has placed him in the frontline of the army of "zionist apologists" .
Presumably, like him, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies’ and the SA Zionist Federation’s reluctance to ever acknowledge, let alone condemn, the intensely brutal treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli regime, will remain their proverbial albatross.
The recent flurry of angry letters by some clearly frustrated members of the Zionist Federation’s media pressure group known as the "media team", on the UN appointment of Archbishop Desmond Tutu as head of an investigation unit to probe the most recent act of state terrorism by Israel, is evidence of their stubborn refusal to call a spade a spade!
Indeed, their self-imposed difficulty to come to terms with Israeli human rights violations, is not made any easier with the fact that many respectable political commentators and media analysts who are Jewish, are increasingly becoming more vocal and articulate in their unreserved condemnation of gross abuses by the Jewish state.
Take the example of Gideon Levy. He is an outspoken journalist attached to Haaretz and these are his words:
"The Israeli army has been rampaging through Gaza – there’s no other word to describe it – killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling indiscriminately………This is disgraceful and shocking collective punishment."
Or read these remarks by another prominent Jewish voice, Norman G. Finkelstein:
"Even by the grim standards of Gaza, the past five months have been cruel ones. Some four hundred Palestinians, mostly unarmed civilians, have been killed during Israeli attacks. [Four Israeli soldiers and two civilians have been killed.] Israel has sealed off Gaza from the outside world while the international community has imposed brutal sanctions, ravaging Gaza’s already impoverished economy."
No wonder then that outspoken critics such as Patrick Cockburn constantly remind the international community about the worsening conditions in the Occupied Territories – which groups such as the JBoD and the Zionist Fed are reluctant to concede.
We are fortunate though, that despite the pressure tactics applied by local Israeli supporters, brave and courageous souls like Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils and Steven Friedman have consistently spoken out on these issues.
Unlike the extremist and irrational disdain displayed by Zionist zealots in defence of Israeli terrorism, Friedman’s most recent piece explains why the Jewish state’s actions should be considered a crime against humanity in much the same way that apartheid was.
The challenge for the JBoD and others aligned to Israel is to deal with the current harsh reality of illegal conduct by the Olmert regime. Mischievously implying that pro-Palestinian solidarity movements and advocacy groups such as ours [Media Review Network], are anti-semites, or worse, Holocaust deniers, does nothing to enhance their credibility.
In fact, as is well known in the ranks of activists across the spectrum, Palestinians do not need to invoke questions about the Holocaust in order to draw attention to the on-going genocidal policies being pursued againt them by Israel.
Though it may be easier to ask one’s flock to disregard the Friedmans and Finkelsteins as "self-hating Jews", the more difficult task would be to make decisive decisions on the morality of unconditional support for a colonial enterprise such as Israel.
None other than the eminent SA jurist John Dugard who also is the Special Rapporteur on Palestine to the UN’s Human Rights Council, makes the following observation:
"Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories has many features of colonisation. At the same time it has many of the worst characteristics of apartheid. The West Bank has been fragmented into three areas – north [Jenin and Nablus], center [Ramallah] and south [Hebron] – which increasingly resemble the Bantustans of South Africa".
There cannot be any doubt that studies by such respectable individuals reveal – much to the horror of the Benjamin Pogrunds of the world – that many aspects of Israel’s occupation surpass those of the apartheid regime!
And in the event spin doctors of the JBoD like David Saks seek to distort John Dugard’s scathing commentary as "wartime propaganda", let it be said that by its own admission, Israel recognises that the "bad press" it complaints about is due to its repressive conduct which is instantaneously recorded and transmitted to the four corners of the world by highly sophisticated media teams.
Oops! Did I say "media teams"?