South Africa and Israel
Posted by Fredsvenn den mai 30, 2008
Jane Hunter writes in her text Israel and South Africa – Israeli Foreign Policy from 1987 that lsrael’s ties with South Africa, in the time before the end of the apartheid system, seem to be especially disturbing to many who follow Israel’s international activities. Perhaps it is natural that Israel has been castigated more harshly for its arms sales to South Africa than for its sales to other countries: first, because there has been for a decade an arms embargo against South Africa; and second, because of the unsurpassed criminality of the white regime and the uses to which it puts the Israeli-supplied weapons.
It has also been said that those arms sales are understandable, given the striking similarities between the two countries in their day-to-day abuse and repression of their subject populations, South African blacks and Palestinians under Israeli rule; in their operating philosophies of apartheid and Zionism; and in their similar objective situations: «the only two Western nations to have established themselves in a predominantly nonwhite part of the world,» as a South African Broadcasting Corporation editorial put it. That understanding, however, is somewhat superficial, and the focus on similarities of political behavior has somewhat obscured the view of the breadth and depth of the totality of Israeli-South African relations and their implications.
Israel’s relations with South Africa are different than its interactions with any of its other arms clients. That Israel gave South Africa its nuclear weapons capability underscores the special nature of Tel Aviv’s relations with the white minority government and begins to describe it – a full-fledged, if covert, partnership based on the determination of both countries to continue as unrepentant pariahs and to help each other avoid the consequences of their behavior.
According to Federation of American Scientists (FAS) South African projects to develop nuclear weapons during the 1970s and 1980s «were undertaken with some cooperation from Israel.» Chris McGreal has claimed that «Israel provided expertise and technology that was central to South Africa’s development of its nuclear bombs». However, United Nations Security Council Resolution 418 of November 4, 1977 introduced a mandatory arms embargo against South Africa, also requiring all States to refrain from «any co-operation with South Africa in the manufacture and development of nuclear weapons».
This year Israel marked the 60th anniversary of its declaration of independence in May 1948, which for the Palestinians immediately became a continuing disaster. In the text South African Statement on 60th anniversary of Apartheid Israel by ANC, May 24 2008, they write ”Apartheid was a gross violation of human rights. It was so in South Africa and it is so with regard to Israel ‘s persecution of the Palestinians!» and
«We fought apartheid; we see no reason to celebrate it in Israel now! Apartheid was a gross violation of human rights. It was so in South Africa and it is so with regard to Israel ‘s persecution of the Palestinians!
We, South Africans who faced the might of unjust and brutal apartheid machinery in South Africa and fought against it with all our strength, with the objective to live in a just, democratic society, refuse today to celebrate the existence of an Apartheid state in the Middle East .
While Israel and its apologists around the world will, with pomp and ceremony, loudly proclaim the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel this month, we who have lived with and struggled against oppression and colonialism will, instead, remember 6 decades of catastrophe for the Palestinian people. 60 years ago, 750,000 Palestinians were brutally expelled from their homeland, suffering persecution, massacres, and torture. They and their descendants remain refugees. This is no reason to celebrate.” …
However, George Bush visited Jerusalem to celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary and talk up what has to be the most bizarre proposal yet for achieving peace: a «shelf agreement». This, Bush explained before he set out, ”would be a «description» of a Palestinian state to be hammered out between the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert before the end of the year. The idea would then be to put this virtual state on the shelf until the time might be right for it to be turned into a reality. In perfect step, Tony Blair announced that he has succeeded in negotiating the removal of three checkpoints and one roadblock on behalf of the Quartet of big powers and the UN – out of a total of 560 throughout the West Bank – but Israel will only actually remove them «in the future».” In other words, it’s business as usual, as the crisis of occupation deepens.
Britain’s prime minister Gordon Brown made a surprise visit to the Israel’s Independence Day reception at the Israeli embassy in London. Brown was the first British prime minister to attend the reception since Tony Blair in 1998, when Israel celebrated its 50th anniversary. Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor told JTA he didn’t know until the last minute whether Brown would attend the 60th birthday event. According to Brown Britain will continue to be “a true and constant friend of Israel in good times and in bad” and that:
”We will never reduce our efforts to secure for Israel a future free from terror, a future where – alongside a viable Palestinian state – children and the children of all your neighbours can believe in a brighter future.”
With his father, a church minister, being a frequent visitor to Israel, he said he learned of the fight for a Jewish homeland, the Balfour declaration and the promises made, some of which have been honoured and some which have been broken. “I learned of the ancient dream of the Jewish nation becoming reality in the modern state of Israel,” Mr Brown went on.
Also the former anti-apartheid activist and Nobel-prize winning author Nadine Gordimer is accused of lending her support to the oppression of Palestinians by joining in “Israel at 60” events. Gaza lecturer Dr Haider Eid, has written Gordimer an open letter:
”Dear Ms. Gordimer,
I am a Palestinian lecturer in Cultural Studies living in Gaza. I happen to also have South African citizenship as a result of my marriage to a citizen of that beloved country. I spent more than five years in Johannesburg, the city in which I earned my Ph.D and lectured at both traditionally black and white universities. At Vista in Soweto, I taught your anti-apartheid novels My Son’s Story, July’s People and The Late Bourgeois World. I have been teaching the same novels, in addition to The Pick Up and Selected Stories, to my Palestinian students in Gaza at Al-Aqsa University. This course is called «Resistance, Anti-Racism and Xenophobia». I deliberately chose to teach your novels because, as an anti-apartheid writer, you defied racial stereotypes by calling for resistance against all forms of oppression, be they racial or religious. Your support of sanctions against apartheid South Africa has, to say the least, impressed my Gazan students.
The news of your conscious decision to take part in the «Israel at 60» celebrations has reached us, students and citizens of Gaza, as both a painful surprise, and a glaring example of a hypocritical intellectual double standard. My students, psychologically and emotionally traumatized and already showing early signs of malnutrition as a result of the genocidal policy of the country whose birth you intend celebrating, demand an explanation.
South African writer Nadine Gordimer defended her decision to attend a writers conference in Israel saying that her «comrades» should have no doubts about her «solidarity with the struggle – our struggle – against apartheid.» She said she decided to attend after arranging to meet with Palestinians as well as Israelis and that her invitation came not from the Israeli government but from Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the international cultural center in West Jerusalem that organized and hosted the event.
The Alternative_Information_Center (AIC), a joint Palestinian-Israeli NGO, which according to its Mission Statement «engages in dissemination of information, political advocacy, grassroots activism and critical analysis of the Palestinian and Israeli societies as well as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict«, established in February 1984 by Israeli activists from the Revolutionary Communist League (previously Matzpen-Jerusalem) and Palestinian leftwing activists from the West Bank, and who is particularly disturbed by the participation of Nobel Prize winning author Nadine Gordimer, called on those who are working for social justice, along with Palestine solidarity groups from around the world to contact the participating authors, particularly those from their home countries, and encourage them to boycott this event in solidarity and support of a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis.
According to Boycott the International Writers’ Festival in Jerusalem:
”It is not possible that Israel continues to deny the human and national rights of the Palestinian people, to impose a deadly siege on the Gaza Strip and publicly flaunt its international political commitments by building additional settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, while its authors and cultural figures are honored with visits by distinguished international authors. Israeli society must be told loudly and clearly that it cannot act with complete impunity toward the Palestinian people and still enjoy privileges and honors of a law-abiding state. Most Israeli authors and other cultural figures have deep concern for the opinions of and working relationships with international authors, such that this boycott can make a substantial impact within Israeli society.”
The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BCUP) urged Gordimer to reconsider her trip, saying it was «dispiriting» that a writer of her standing was prepared to appear in a city that was under military occupation and «founded on ethnic cleansing». According to the BCUP:
«By taking part in an event substantially funded by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you (Gordimer) will be lending credibility to a state that has for decades subjected Palestinian towns and villages to collective punishment and that boasts of its extrajudicial killings.»
However, Gordimer said she was not going to Israel under the «auspices» of the Israeli government, but was honouring an invitation by the Konrad Adenauer Institute.
According to Israel Business Today, September 1, 1999, the Konrad Adenauer Institute Konrad Adenauer Institute of Germany or Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) together with its local representative in Israel Dr. Johannes Gerster organized a visit to Israel by the former German Chancellor Dr. Helmut Kohl, who visited Israel from October 31 to November 3, 1999. He met the Israeli government and economic leaders during his trip and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Weizmann Institute of Rehovot, something that would improve the relations between the Germany and Israel.
Konrad Hermann Josef Adenauer was a German statesman. Although his political career spanned sixty years, beginning as early as 1906, he is most noted for his role as the first Chancellor of West Germany from 1949–1963 and chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from 1950 to 1966. He was the oldest chancellor ever to serve Germany, leaving at the age of eighty seven.
KAS, the largest of the politically affiliated research foundations in Germany, with an annual budget of around €100 million, most of which it receives from government, is a German research foundation associated with that country’s CDU. Nationally and internationally, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for Civic Education and the promotion of European integration, support art and culture, encourages talented students and doctoral students with scholarships and documented and researched the historical development of Christian-democratic movement. Like all political foundations tries, as a think tank for their party opinion on society, therefore. Abroad, the KAS has 67 offices and supports 200 projects in addition to the «help for self-help» in 120 countries with close political parties and organizations.
In the beginning of the 1950s the Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the CDU Federal Executive debate the creation of a training and education centre to promote young politicians. December 20, 1955, the Society for Christian Democratic Education Work was established in Bonn as the precursor of the KAS. It was renamed after the former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1964 and the Konrad Adenauer Institute was set up in 1966. It funds policy research, in the mould of a think tank, but the larger part of its sponsorship is research in the social sciences not directly connected to framing policy. It has close links to the right-wing of Germany’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU).