A harsh statement by the African National Congress (ANC) comparing Israel’s military response to Palestinian rocket attacks with Nazi Germany has drawn sharp reaction from the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and the Jewish community in South Africa.
“It is unacceptable that the ANC Deputy Secretary General, Ms Jessie Duarte, venomously attacks Israel’s efforts to defend its people against acts of aggression but makes no effort to speak out against the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers or the escalating bombardment by Hamas – of Israeli population centres – that preceded the current Israeli military response. Ms Duarte does not even mention, let alone condemn, the hundreds of deadly missiles fired at Israel’s cities and towns – subjecting not only Israelis but many people from other countries including hundreds of South African citizens, both adults and children – to this deadly danger,” says ACDP Member of Parliament, Cheryllyn Dudley, who is also a member of Parliament’s International Relations Portfolio Committee today said:
In a statement released yesterday, Dudley continues: “The ANC’s moral outrage is highly suspect in the face of their failure to denounce some of the worst current instances of human rights violations, both in the Middle East and in Africa – these include the more than 160 000 deaths in Syria, atrocities committed against Shi’ite Muslims by Iraq and the on-going massacres of Christians in Nigeria.
“Casualties resulting from a military operation are no less tragic because they are done in the name of defending one’s people under deadly attack. Despite the lengths Israel goes to minimise the casualties, the ACDP is saddened by each and every bit of pain and suffering being experienced at this time.”
“The ACDP calls on the ANC to apologise for the significant offence they have caused and to show responsible leadership by denouncing all violence and calling on Hamas and Fatah to stop the attacks on Israel which have resulted in more violence.”
The South African Jewish community immediately condemned the statement as “obscene” and “venomous” and demanded a retraction and apology, reports The Times of Israel.
In her controversial statement on the conflict, Duarte says: “The African National Congress condemns in the strongest terms the barbaric attacks on the defenseless Palestinian people of Gaza.” Duarte also wrote in her statemement: “As we move towards the month of August and are reminded of [t]he atrocities of Nazi Germany, surely we must ask the people of Israel has the term ‘lest we forget’ lost it[s] meaning.”
She also writes that Israel “has turned the occupied territories of Palestine into permanent death camps.”
The Times of Israel notes that Duarte does not refer in any way to rockets fired at Israeli civilians from Gaza. The newspaper writes: “Of course the killing of any child irrespective of race color or creed must be condemned and the death of two Israeli young people is surely as senseless as any other death,” she [Duarte] continued, apparently referring to the killing of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Sha’ar and Naftali Fraenkel last month. “But for the State of Israel, the notion of an eye for an eye has become perpetual massacre with merciless revenge which has lasted for more than 60 years. It is time to stop the killing now.”
The Time of Israel report continues: “Israel’s “horrendous” attack on Gaza will further isolate Israel in the international community, Duarte warned. “Apartheid South Africa’s wanton killing of our people during the 1980s lead to its isolation, it would seem that Israel is taking a similar path of isolation by embarking on these attacks.”
The Israeli newspaper reports that mere hours after the ANC’s statement was issued, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the country’s Zionist Federation put out a joint press release condemning Duarte’s words.
“Such naked invective is something one expects to find only on the more extreme wing of the anti-Israel lobby; coming from our country’s ruling party, it is nothing short of disgraceful,” the statement read. The groups said they were “particularly appalled over the shameful comparisons” between Israel’s actions and the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people.
“Comparisons between Israel and the Nazi regime are obscene, not only because they are so grossly defamatory towards the Jewish State but because they belittle the unspeakable crimes of Nazism itself. It is self-evident that casualties resulting from a necessary and unavoidable military operation – casualties that Israel goes to considerable lengths to minimize – cannot be remotely equated with the systematic mass murder of millions solely on account of their being Jewish.”
Duarte is well aware of this but chose to make such a comparison anyway, “for the purpose of causing the maximum hurt and offense,” the statement charged. In doing so, she was “grossly insulting world Jewry and the memory of all the victims of Nazi tyranny.”
The joint statement also took Duarte to task for failing to mention the hundreds of rockets fired at Israel in recent days and weeks.
“It is unacceptable in any decent, democratic society for a responsible political organization to propagate such venom and bigotry, let alone a party that has been entrusted with the reins of government,” the statement continued.
The two most important Jewish organizations in South Africa called on the ANC to distance itself from Duarte’s “repugnant comments” and to apologize to the country’s Jewish community, reports the Times of Israel.
Tutu call for halt to cycle of violence
Nobel laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu who supports economic sanctions against Israel which he has previously accused of ‘apartheid’ treatment of Palestinians, has joined Roman Catholic leaders in the Holy Land and the World Council of Churches in calling for a halt to the “cycle of violence” in Israel and Gaza, reports Ecumenical News.
“Like children following a playground dust-up, political and religious leaders fall over each other, not to make peace, but to proclaim: It wasn’t us, they started it.”
The former Archbishop of Cape Town said Israel would never achieve true security and safety through oppressing the Palestinians, and Palestine would never achieve peaceful self-determination through violence.
“No conflict is intractable; no disagreement so absolute that it can never be healed.
“The world is looking to Israelis and Palestinians to be bigger than themselves; to act now, before any more children are harmed,” said Tutu.
Israel entered the third day of its Operation Protective Edge. So far, its air force struck nearly 500 targets to stop the Hamas rocket fire from the Gaza Strip CBN reported yesterday.
Meanwhile, millions of Israeli citizens are taking cover in bomb shelters as Hamas continues its rocket and missile bombardment out of Gaza. The terror group has fired over 200 rockets into Israel since Monday, a situation Israel’s ambassador to the United States told CBN News is intolerable.