Hostility to Israel and Antisemitism in the New South Africa – Alana Pugh-Jones

Alana Pugh-Jones

Alana Pugh-Jones

The conflict in Gaza has seen a definite shift around the globe in the ways that criticism of Israeli policy is expressed. The lines between anti-Zionism and antisemitism have become significantly more blurred. In South Africa this phenomenon has been strikingly brought home in the unfolding events of 2009.

In what has been described as the first instance of public ‘Jew-baiting’ by a government minister since the 1930s, the South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Fatima Hajaig informed a mass rally held in solidarity for Gaza in Johannesburg in early January that the fate of the West is in the grip of ‘Jewish money power’. She said:

The control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money and if Jewish money controls their country then you cannot expect anything else.’

Hajaig unleashed a media storm in South Africa and a debate on the distinction between criticizing Israel and leveling charges against Jews. Although many lauded her for speaking the ‘truth’ so openly, the vast majority of South Africans, from media news rooms and opposition

Fatima Hajaig

Fatima Hajaig

politicians, to the average Facebook groupies, came out strongly against such a statement of intolerance and aimed at a minority in the world’s ‘Rainbow Nation’.

Even a prominent group of Jewish and Muslim human rights activists, many members of the South African Human Rights Delegation that visited the Occupied Territories last year and returned very critical of Israeli policy, wrote publicly to Hajaig asking for her to confirm what she said and to apologize.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), the communal umbrella organization representing the majority of Jewish South Africans, immediately laid a complaint of antisemitism again the Minister with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and flatly dismissed Hajaig’s first tardy and veiled apology which she made when she returned from an international visit. After spending an inordinate amount of time adopting the moral high ground, laying out both her ANC credentials and the horrors of the situation in Gaza, Hajaig stated:

At a singular point in my talk, and entirely unrelated to any South African community, I conflated Zionist pressure with Jewish influence. I regret the inference made by some that I am anti-Jewish.’

Hajaig had inverted the words ‘Zionist’ and ‘Jew’, clumsily slipping between the ‘acceptable’ language of anti-Zionism and the terminology of the longest hatred. After she was hauled before Cabinet and forced to apologize unequivocally to the President, the SAJBD and most of the South African public also accepted the apology. Given the fact that the apology was not directed to the Jewish community however, the case is still being reviewed by the SA Human Rights Commission.

Hot on the heels of the Hajaig fiasco, South Africa’s largest trade union, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which had released several press statements during the Gaza crisis solely condemning Israel and expressing support exclusively for the Palestinian civilian population, cosatuannounced the creation of an Ad Hoc Palestinian Solidarity Coalition. This Coalition, run in conjunction with the leadership of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC), indicated that it would be holding a ‘Week of Action Against Apartheid Israel’. As well as the familiar rallies and vigils outside Parliament in Cape Town and the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria, COSATU announced their intention to prevent a scheduled Israeli ship from docking on South African shores.

On 6 February COSATU held an unauthorised march outside the Jewish communal leadership offices; the Jewish community held a solidarity event within the complex walls. Salim Vallie of the PSC explained the march in this way:

‘this is because the Zionist Federation and the SA Jewish Board of Deputies have supported the war crimes in Gaza and we are saying as South Africans we have to take sides and we need to choose the side of justice. We are not going to support the canard that says if you are opposed to the policies of Israel you are anti-Semitic, this does not intimidate us.’

The statement of a COSATU official at the march also slipped up on the problematic distinction between ‘Zionists’ versus ‘Jews’. Bongani Masuku, International Relations Secretary for COSATU, said,

“We want to convey a message to the Jews in SA that our 1.9-million workers who are affiliated to COSATU are fully behind the people of Palestine… Any business owned by Israel supporters will be a target of workers in South Africa.’

In this statement, simply being Jewish makes one an ‘Israel supporter’ – and not just someone who believes in the right of Jewish self-determination, but someone who supports what is held to be as an evil apartheid state. The overwhelming majority of Jews in South Africa do support Israel, in one sense or another. An email which is currently widely circulating is listing Jewish owned companies as targets of boycott. Already, certain Jewish owned shops are noticing a significant drop in business.

Jewish opposition to the COSATU/ PSC march was seen by some as an attempt to limit the arena for free political expression and the right to political association. But the nature of where it was held sadly denotes a warning to the Jewish community that it will be targeted if it continues to support Israel. COSATU has every right to march outside the offices of an organization with whose policies it vehemently disagrees. When it does so outside a building which houses the institutions representing the majority of the Jewish community, and in a predominantly Jewish residential area, then many will feel that it has designated the Jewish community of South Africa itself, not Israel, as the enemy.

The following day the ship, owned by an Israeli company, carrying non-Israeli goods, was offloaded ahead of schedule at Durban harbour. The Port of Durban turned to non-union workers, and also unionised workers who were unconcerned with Middle Eastern politics. Despite attempts by the Histradut to appeal to the International Transport Workers Federation, South African trade unions objected to a cooperation agreement signed between the Palestinian and Israeli transport workers union. COSATU promised in their press release, declaring ‘worker victory’ in the face of Zionist ‘subterfuge’, to:

‘ intensify its efforts in support of the struggles of the Palestinian people … Other COSATU unions are currently in discussion about how they might also give effect to COSATU resolutions on boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, including a refusal to handle Israeli goods, and continuing pressure on our government to sever diplomatic and trade relations with Israel.’

Sadly within the Jewish community, and in broader South African society, such a heightening of tensions between pro- and anti-Israel supporters has had the effect of reducing the space for nuanced discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some moderate voices which supported the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and which advocate an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, have been rendered much more cautious by the extremism and antisemitism of Israel’s most vocal critics. Many Jewish South Africans, even those who opposed the Israeli military action in Gaza, now feel that it is harder to voice vigorous dissent, as Jews in general are now coming under fire. They find themselves under pressure to pull together with the mainstream Zionist community in the face of a blurring of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment.

What Professor Milton Shain has identified as a ‘steady progression of hostility’ within the new generation of South Africans towards Israel has been starkly revealed in the events of 2009 thus far. He identifies the three major factors behind this ratcheting up of the hostility of the rhetoric: South Africa’s third world context; the apartheid resonances regarding Israel and South AfricaPalestine; and the ‘miracle’ of the new South Africa and its transition from apartheid to a democratic rainbow nation. What leads on from this premise is that South Africa’s negotiations in 1994, their outcome of one unified democratic state, may be transplanted to any troubled zone as the key to peace. This view is understandable, taking into consideration the ideological gulf between the two sides in South Africa at the beginning of the 1994 talks and the remarkable nature of the constitution which emerged from that settlement. However, the Israel-apartheid analogy also leads to the inevitable conclusion of that Israelis should be boycotted and the logic of this is to create, as David Hirsh writes,

‘a mass movement for the exclusion of Jews, even if not all Jews, from the academic, cultural, sporting and economic life of humanity, resonates with an altogether different memory from the boycott of white South Africa.’

In short, the lines between criticism of Israel and its demonization, between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, speaking about ‘Zionists’ rather than ‘Jews’, are being distorted.

Speaking out against Israeli policy is not only legitimate but essential – no nation state is perfect, and vigorous and robust debate about Israel is necessary for the future of that democratic state. However, when this critique is expressed through motifs reminiscent of classic anti-Semitic imagery; or when that disapproval holds Israel to higher standards than other states and employs conspiracy theory, the basic standards of political tolerance and antiracism for which South Africa stands are crossed. This kind of language not only jeopardizes the cause of the Palestinian people, overshadowing their legitimate grievances, but it also feeds intolerance and prejudice against a group of people, diminishing space for political discussion and nuanced debate.

Alana Pugh-Jones

UPDATE For more from Bongani Masuku, International relations Secretary for COSATU, see this astonishing post by Ben Cohen on Z Word.

33 Responses to “Hostility to Israel and Antisemitism in the New South Africa – Alana Pugh-Jones”

  1. Efraim Says:

    “Speaking out against Israeli policy is not only legitimate but essential – no nation state is perfect, and vigorous and robust debate about Israel is necessary for the future of that democratic state.”

    This is a terrific article and I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment expressed above.

    Still, I find it sad that almost every article pointing out how the lines between criticism of Israel and antisemitism are being blurred the has to also almost ritualistically insist on the legitimacy of criticizing Israeli policy as if that had ever been in doubt.

    I don’t fault Alana Pugh-Jones for doing so, I would probably be compelled to do so myself; but it is a comment on the times we live that one has to do so.

    If one were discussing anti-Chinese racism in, say, Indonesia, would the writer think it necessary to say that it’s legitimate to criticize Chinese policies? I think not.

    Still I want to thank the writer for a very informative account of present day realities in South Africa.

  2. Another Observer Says:

    I’m with Efrain here. And, anyway, no matter how many times you say it, no-one believes you anyway.

  3. Mira Vogel Says:

    Thanks for this Alana – very interesting account and explanation, and for me topical too – I heard Tony Leon (former leader of the main opposition to the ANC) speak tonight which is where I first learnt that Fatima Hajaig had been obliged to publicly apologise to the President. Leon was surprised by this gesture and thought it a strongly positive signal from the ANC. What do you reckon?

  4. Julia Says:

    I don’t think Hajaig’s apology to the president was a good signal at all. If I remember correctly, she first apologized to the Jewish community, but she used her apology to repeat her nasty claims about Israel and Zionists, so the Jewish Board of Deputies did not accept her apology. The president, who has supported (perhaps even written?) very dubious, negative anti-Israel ANC statements then said Hajaig could apologize through him. He pronounced that her apology satisfied HIM, so the community was kind of obliged to accept her apology, too. The problem is I’m not really sure what it means for her apology to satisfy him. It seems he may largely agree with what she said anyway.

  5. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Probably some of the learned readers can explain the following: In South-Africa recently pogroms took place against black refugees. Why was there no outcry of the left and liberal British mainstream Media and public? Is racism of blacks against other blacks tolerable?

    Why on the other hand any vile abuse is tolerated if only the word Jew is replaced with the word Zionist?

  6. Anthony Posner Says:

    Hi Alana,
    You have written an interesting post but there is much more to the Cosatu story….

  7. Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Conveying a Message to the Jews of South Africa Says:

    […] march was a Jewish community center. Bongani Masuku, International Relations Secretary for COSATU, phrased the goal this way: We want to convey a message to the Jews in SA that our 1.9-million workers who are affiliated to […]

  8. Anthony Posner Says:

    Conveying a Message to the Jews of South Africa
    Posted by David Schraub | February 26th, 2009

    “The effect is to force Jews into a subordinate position wherein the only proper response they can make when they feel marginalized or scared is to be silent or flee, and it is nearly impossible to imagine Mr. Vallie intended any other outcome (Mr. Masuku, of course, expressly identifies this as his intention).

    To be frank, I’m not sure I would feel comfortable even traveling to South Africa under these circumstances. I don’t wear my support for a free and democratic Israel (and Palestine, for that matter) on my sleeve, but the topic does come up, and it is more likely to come up when the prevailing norm is that any Jew must prove themselves to be “reasonable and humane” before they can expect to be “regarded as human beings”. COSATU, through word and deed, is creating an environment where to be a Jew in South Africa makes one worthy of hatred. In this respect, Mr. Masuku was quite successful in conveying a message to me. I cannot, for my own safety, travel somewhere where my basic humanity is in doubt.”

  9. Anthony Posner Says:

    (not written by the Cape Messiah!)

    Alana writes:
    “Speaking out against Israeli policy is not only legitimate but essential – no nation state is perfect, and vigorous and robust debate about Israel is necessary for the future of that democratic state.”
    She should, of course, bear in mind that Israel has a lot of enemies who are “speaking out agaoinst Israeli policy” 24/7.
    Of course, it is PC for some Jews in SA to join this bandwagon. Whether, it helps to secure peace in The Middle East is another matter altogether.

  10. Mike Berger Says:

    Hi Alana
    I agree with much of what you say except for one thing – an important one. You are at pains to make the point that it is “legitimate to criticise Israel”. I feel that comment is in part a gesture to the broad notion that in a democratic society everything is open to scrutiny and criticism – it is the essential component of free speech. That is true, and I would take great care to limit free speech, preferably erring on the side of excess rather than restriction.
    Having said that, most (and I mean most) criticism of Israel in the popular media of all kinds is ill-informed, disconnected from reality, disproportionate and generally motivated by ideological or antisemitic notions. It has become part of a vast propaganda network to demonise and delegitimise Israel with the clear intent of weakening her diplomatic position. In short, it is an important theatre of war and has little to do with theoretical notions of democracy and free speech. To put it another way, the very strength and pride of democratic cultures have been hijacked by profoundly anti-democratic forces to destroy Israel.
    But it goes beyond that. The anti-Zionist discourse is not so subtly morphing into the outright antisemitism which lies at the root of much of the anti-Zionism to begin with. And beyond that in turn lie Islamist (not Islamic) notions which are antipathetic to the entire Western enterprise of democracy, secularism and multiculturalism.
    There is no excuse for naivete on these matters and we have the Masuku’s of this world (and much worse) to remind us what lies underneath the polite speech and carefully calibrated propaganda of the intellectual elites.
    So yes, in theory and in practice free speech needs to be defended (not at any cost however!), but that does not stop me from characterising the public criticism of Israel in the current context by Jews purporting to be her friend as betrayal. Whether that is the result of simple sloppiness and naivete or vanity or cowardice and self-interest or whatever is immaterial.
    The actions of Kasrils and Friedman, however repugnant I find them, are not betrayal. They are open enemies of Israel and should be regarded as such.

  11. Anthony Posner Says:

    Is your “legitimate” criticism of Israel, legitimizing its existence or deligitimizing its existence?

    I refer you to thye following written by Irwin Cottler…

    “And so it is then that Israel is delegitimized, if not demonized, by the ascription to it of the two most scurrilous indictments of 20th-century racism – Nazism and apartheid – the embodiment of all evil. These very labels of Zionism and Israel as “racist, apartheid and Nazi” supply the criminal indictment. No further debate is required. The conviction that this triple racism warrants the dismantling of Israel as a moral obligation has been secured. For who would deny that a “racist, apartheid, Nazi” state should not have any right to exist today? What is more, this characterization allows for terrorist “resistance” to be deemed justifiable – after all, such a situation is portrayed as nothing other than occupation et résistance, where resistance against a racist, apartheid, Nazi occupying state is legitimate, if not mandatory.”

  12. Anthony Posner Says:

    You write..
    “Sadly within the Jewish community, and in broader South African society, such a heightening of tensions between pro- and anti-Israel supporters has had the effect of reducing the space for nuanced discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

    I write….

    Bush, the last Republican President, wasn’t eloquent.
    His vocabulary evidently needed improvement.
    Unlike Obama, he wasn’t nuanced, far too simplistic
    For American academics who voted Democratic.
    Post 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan,
    The terrorists were dubbed evil and inhuman
    “Best to kill them” said the Neo Conservatives
    We must attack those Islamic fundamentalists.
    Barack does not see things quite so black and white.
    His views are sophisticated, not nearly so trite.
    We must not balk at talking to Mullahs in Iran
    Diplomatic intervention is the road to Tehran.
    So.. “nuanced” policy, without the Texan’s idiocy
    Will soon bring this fractured world to sanity?

  13. Anthony Posner Says:

    You should view your “legitimate and essential” crtiticism of Isarel in the following contect and consider whether your
    “nunced” views are just in fact giving succor to Ronnie Kasrils.
    I have written a ditty…

    Ron, no longer Minister of Intelligence in SA’s government
    Is still staunchly anti-Israel and bears much resentment
    Towards Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein
    And the Zionist’s HQ in Raedene.
    So Muslims from Lenasia near Pretoria
    Were sent to demonstrate their hate in Jewish suburbia.
    Cosatu and Kasrils were keen to agitate
    Screaming “Israel is an evil Nazi state.”
    The Magen Dovid and the swastika
    Belsen, Treblinka and Gaza
    Are deemed to be identical
    It’s the the new radical rational.
    The international Jewish rats from the 1930’s
    Are local Zionists transmuted into Hitler’s buddies.

  14. Lizzy P Says:


    You really have trouble recognizing the difference between legitimate criticism and antisemitism, don’t you?

    You’re a bit like Kasrils and the rest in that regard, are you not?

  15. Anthony Posner Says:

    Lizzy P,

    I am a poet . Not a prose writer, so I am unable to respond!

  16. Anthony Posner Says:

    Lizzy P,

    Also, I am not “nuanced” enough to understand your comment.

  17. Anthony Posner Says:

    Some questions:

    (1) Is it legitimate criticism to compare Israel to apartheid SA or to state that Israel is “worse than evil” as so called “eminent” memebers of The SAHRD (South African Human Right Delegation) did?

    (2) Is it legitimate criticism to imply that Israel must not vigorously defend itself from Hamas rocket and suicide attacks?

    (3) Is it legitimate critcism to single Israel out for criticism and to keep silent about various Islamic regimes?

    (4) Is it legitimate criticism to criticize Israel on the pages of a virulently anti-zionist SA media?

  18. David Hirsh Says:

    (1) Is it legitimate criticism to compare Israel to apartheid SA or to state that Israel is “worse than evil” as so called “eminent” memebers of The SAHRD (South African Human Right Delegation) did?

    To denounce Israel as “apartheid” is forensically inaccurate and politically counterproductive – it tends to encourage demonization rather than a peace movement. The anti-apartheid movement for Israel wants to place Israel at the centre of the political activity of all antiracists on the planet – and to place the Jews at the centre of all that goes wrong in the world is not clever – and is dangerous.

    (2) Is it legitimate criticism to imply that Israel must not vigorously defend itself from Hamas rocket and suicide attacks?

    I think that people who say that Israel simply doesn’t have the right to defend itself and its people – or that Israel will never need to defend itself and its people – are negligent as to the survival of Israeli Jews.

    This of course is not to imply that any or all military action which Israel undertakes in the name of self-defence is either wise or legitimate. People have the right to make their own political and moral judgments about each situation I think.

    (3) Is it legitimate criticism to single Israel out for criticism and to keep silent about various Islamic regimes?

    I think people have the right not to speak about whatever they choose not to speak about. But if they operate with a worldview which looks sympathetically at human rights abuses all round the world which are more serious than the ones that Israel commits, if they “contextualize” and “understand” and excuse violence against Jews while at the same time they simply denounce Israel in the harshest and most absolutist terms, then I think there is something dangerous about that worldview.

    (4) Is it legitimate criticism to criticize Israel on the pages of a virulently anti-zionist SA media?

    Yes, i think that we should insist that South Africa has an open and free press where a nuanced and serious discussion is possible. I was quite pleased with this:

  19. Anthony Posner Says:

    Thank you very much for replying.

    My questions continue..

    (5) Is it legitimate criticism when such views are often used to help legitimize more extreme “illegitimate” criticsm?

    (6) Is it legitimate criticsm when the complex history and political dynamics in the Middle East are ignored?

    (7) Is it legitimate criticsm when the terms “human rights”, “anti-racism”, “anti colonialist” etc are fashionably used as waeapons to attack Israel’s legitimacy?

  20. Anthony Posner Says:

    Re Question (4).
    In the South African context it is extremely difficult, often impossible, to discuss in the main stream media whether the criticism of Isreal is legitimate. The media is so anti-zionist that critiques of such views rarely see the light of day.
    As a result, “non anti-zionists” have little option but to contribute to blogs like “It’s Almost Supernatural”. Of course, blogs by their very nature do not get mass readership so wider debate is effectively stiffled.
    One of the biggest obstacles confronting us is to actually debate the issues.
    Israel’s accusers are carte blanching 24/7 in the SA media, so there is no obligation on them to ever have their views tested. They can quite literally write what they like and get away with it.

  21. Anthony Posner Says:

    It is also important to understand that criticsm of Israel by Jews is usually portrayed to be more legitimate by non-Jews.
    “How on earth can such criticism be unfair or antisemitic? It was written by a Jew!”

  22. Anthony Posner Says:

    Re Q (4). To make matters worse, the director of The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) in SA, was until recently the spokesperson for The Palestinian Solidarity Committee.
    The current exec director of The FXI, Jane Duncan, has also actually signed a petition calling for an academic boycott of Israel.
    And The FXI puts itself forward as an independent media watchdog!

  23. Anthony Posner Says:

    South African Academics Supporting the PACBI Call for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

    Jane Duncan signed the petition in your capacity as director of Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI)

  24. Anthony Posner Says:

    Another question ( I bet some “Engage” readers wish that I would stick tp poetry!)

    (8) Is it legitmate criticism when freedom of expression in South Africa is monitored by a well-known watchdog, namely The FXI, which is controlled by The Palestinian Solitarity Committee?

  25. Anthony Posner Says:

    (9) Is it legitimate criticsm when Jews who write such criticsm know that their views will gain wider currency because it is much harder to allege that Jewish “legitimate criticsm” of Israel may be unfair or antisemitic?

  26. Sydney Kaye Says:

    Criticism of Israel in South Africa is for the most part “non-legitimate”. The “not in my name” Jews have the same motivations as those so indulging elsewhere. They are generally leftist professionals who feel they are more acceptable amongst their contemporaries by thinking “correctly” and prove that by attacking Isreal to distance themselves from the “other” Jews. Muslim organisations are for obvious reasons vocal, but up to now non-threatening. Especially in Cape Town , Muslims and Jews have historical and business connections. Cosatu’s leaders are on a thing of their own, distant from their membership which has more to worry about than Palestine, which is why the so-called embargoed boat was easilly off- loaded. There have been no serious violent acts against Jews or Jewish organisations, as has been seen in Europe. Government has unambiguously demonstrated on more then one occassion that it has no sympathy with anti-Semetic acts or gestures and Jewish organisations have been supported by Constitutional structures and the courts where necessary. Although there was an uncomfortable period during the Gaza war, no overt anti-Semitism would have been occassioned during normal daily interactions with others. David Schraub, who would fear for his safety in traveling to South Africa is either particularly sqeamish, easily subject to emotional reports, or would be better off shallowly commenting from the relative safety of his arm chair.

  27. allan s. Says:

    Israel is a big boy now; fifty years old. right? So, stop the complaining, Zionism is the ideological underpinning of this state and what it says about the Palestinians , ‘the other’, is quite explicit. For a period of time it conveniently conflated Jewishness with Zionism (in the form of the Israeli state). Unfortunately most Jews, like the rest of the world, are ignorant about Zionism and its proponents except for the well-burnished heroes… But I never could figure out how, if Arabs are also Semites, how a semite can be anti-semitic. But it quite easy to be anti-Zionist….

  28. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    allan s shows a typical inability to either read or to understand what he reads. It has been pointed out numerous times that the phrase “antisemitism” (or “anti-semitism” if you prefer) was coined in the 19th century to refer specifically to Jews. So stop with the smart “arabs are semites” claptrap.

    Allan s has further clearly done no other reading either. It has been pointed out time and again that the early zionists expected or at least hoped to live in harmony with the arab/Palestinian inhabitants of the land. Ben Gurion is on record as consistently insisting on fair treatment for the arab/Palestinian population.

    But no, he has to adopt the Kasrils line, because admitting the truth would undermine his world-view: as so often, reality is unsettling for this type. Let’s get this straight: the majority of Jewish Israelis know very well that a two-state settlement is only one that will ensure that their children and grandchildren can have a hope of living in peace. Most Palestinians know this too (see all the surveys carried out); Fatah knows this. Only Hamas, Hezbollah and their clerico-fascist paymasters in Iran believe otherwise.

    However, I don’t expect any of this to budge allan s one little bit. It hasn’t in the past. But that doesn’t mean that anyone else is going to take the slightest bit of notice of his views with their lack of a scintilla of evidence to prop them up.

  29. Anthony Posner Says:

    (10) Is it “legitimate criticism” when people who “legtitimately criticize” Israel are unwilling to publicly debate precisely what consitutes “legitimate criticsm” in the South African context?

  30. Jacob Says:

    allan s. Says: “ So, stop the complaining, Zionism is the ideological underpinning of this state and what it says about the Palestinians , ‘the other’, is quite explicit.”

    Allan, if you had taken a couple of days to research the history of the conflict you would have realized that Jews have been the other not only in Europe but also in Islamic societies for centuries.

    Zionism is merely the modern expression of the historical desire of the Jews to live in their homeland;
    to develop its own culture in its own language. That is all that it is. The notion that it views non Jews as “other” is just so much antisemitic projection.

    Your claim that,

    “Unfortunately most Jews, like the rest of the world, are ignorant about Zionism and its proponents except for the well-burnished heroes… “

    Where is your evidence that this is true, Allan?

    Given that almost half the Jews in the world live in Israel your claim to ignorance about Zionism on the part of most Jews is demonstrably false. Whether they support it or not most Jews do know what Zionism is.

    Finally you also show your ignorance about history and about antisemitism when you state that:

    “But I never could figure out how, if Arabs are also Semites, how a semite can be anti-semitic.”

    Antisemitism is modern political ideal that started in Vienna towards the end the 19th century and has spread throughout the world. Arabs like the late Haj Amin el Husseini Mufti of Jerusalem and leader of the Palestinian Arabs were also proud antisemites.

    Here is a study of the phenomenon of Arab antisemitism:

    “Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11” by Matthias Küntzel

    “ But it quite easy to be anti-Zionist….”

    Yes, easy for ignorant antisemites, who don’t know and don’t want to know anything about Zionism or Jewish history.

  31. Anthony Posner Says:

    It is interesting to read how Alana Pugh-Jones responded to Mondli Makhanya and The SAHRD….
    “Makhanya’s acknowledgement that our individual and inherent bias is the total of our subjective past gave me pause to reflect on my own viewpoint when listening to this group.”
    (Alana Pugh-Jones)

    To understand the context, please click on…
    “Sunday Times Editor Makhanya: Israel is most oppressive state in the world”

  32. Anthony Posner Says:

    To conclude:
    I believe that it is certainly possible to “legitimately criticize” Israel but that it is actually impossible to do so in the South African context. I have outlined some of the reasons in my above comments.

  33. Sacha Ismail Says:

    “If one were discussing anti-Chinese racism in, say, Indonesia, would the writer think it necessary to say that it’s legitimate to criticize Chinese policies? I think not.”

    It would be necessary if this racism was being discussed in connection with a “boycott China” movement connected to China’s oppression of the Tibetans and other nationalities?

    It is not just necessary to criticise Israel in the sense that everything should always be open to criticism; but because Israel DOES, despite the lunacy of ‘absolute anti-Zionism’, oppress the Palestinians. In fact, any description of Israel as a democratic state (which it is, in so far as capitalist states can be truly democratic) has to reckon with its denial of the elementary democratic right of national self-determination to the Palestinians, and its denial of Palestinians’ civil rights in order to enforce this national oppression.

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