Howard Feldman

The ANC has forsaken its Jewish compatriots

2017-03-09 08:28

Heated exchanges and punches thrown around at Wits Israeli Apartheid Week event

2017-03-08 11:30

Tensions rose between the South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) and the Wits Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) at Wits University on Tuesday during Israeli Apartheid Week 2017.WATCH

I am a South African Jew.

I was born in a country that provided shelter to my grandparents as they fled the death of Hitler’s Europe. They came to a country where Jews were only to be tolerated, but where it was better than the alternative.

I was born in a country where violent summer storms punctuated my childhood and where the thunderous rain beating on the tin roof of our home remains the comforting sound-track of my youth.   

I was born in a country that fed us fear and hatred in our porridge and that made us view our neighbours with suspicion and disgust from breakfast until bedtime; where we were taught not to trust – especially other races.

It was a country that made my parents worry that I would be a “liberal”, not because of the value system it represented but because of what could happen when government informers wrote your name on a list. And where we were told to keep our heads down because South Africa had been a hair breadth away from supporting the Nazis in the war long past, but could return there again. “Never forget that,” we were told. Our survival depended on it.

But I did.

I was born and blessed to be part of the transformation that flashed us a glimpse at what could be possible if we just believed in the goodness of our fellow man. And we saw it for ourselves. Like a magnificent lightning-flash it became clear for a moment. And we saw it. And we believed.

No matter which God we served.

I was born in a country that “gifted” the horror of apartheid to the world and that showed us what the natural consequence of racism is: a hell that will take generations to purge. Not just from the victims of discrimination, but from all of us who were schooled and infused with discrimination that is buried so deep that we often don’t even see it in ourselves.

And I watch as the history of my fellow South Africans is stolen and appropriated by sellers of hate. I watch the traders of Israel Apartheid Week as they negate our South African history in order to carve another notch in hatred for Israel in what is really only about the failure to concede that Israel has the right to exist at all.

Because Israel is a democracy. A fantastically flawed one. And it has its challenges. As South Africa does. As does anywhere. And the so-called “occupied territories” are problematic. As they were from 1948 until 1967 when they were occupied by Jordan and Syria and when no one accused them of apartheid when the residents were confined in refugee camps. And when Israel wasn’t the “occupier” and yet never had peace.

No one screamed “apartheid” when Middle Eastern countries expelled 850 000 Jews because they were Jews - because they were angry that Israel existed. No one says a word when Hamas reiterates that they will remove every Jew from Israel because they have no right to be there.

Because they are Jewish.

Even though they have been there for 2000 years.

I watch the ANC government who is meant to represent all its citizens encourage “travel bans” to Israel in case their citizens might see for themselves. And I can’t help but feel that we are right back where we started. We are fed fear and hatred in our porridge.

The ANC government, known for wholesale looting and corruption, has sold itself to a segment of the country without regard for the other. Instead of representing all its citizens, in its arrogance and ignorance, it has made the decision to try to deny itself and its people the ability to think for themselves. It should not come as a surprise, but it is by no means less disappointing.

The ANC has been captured by the anti-Israel lobby. And it will not serve them, mainly because they have no integrity.

They have remained silent on the suffering of fellow Africans in Zimbabwe and in the rest of Africa. They have provided shelter to genocidal murderers and have chosen to ignore the plight of Syrian refugees amongst others. They are silent on Tibet because of trade agreements with China. They are self-serving and dishonest.

But mostly the ANC have decimated their own country. They have failed their people in every sector of society and would be well advised to clean up the mess of their own creation before being arrogant enough to think that they can solve problems of others – especially when it juxtaposes one group of South Africans against another.

I was born in country that protected my grandparents, that has been the only home my parents have known. Africa has decorated and enriched the tapestry of our lives and the lives of our children who too lie in bed and listen to the sounds of a summer storm. 

- Howard Feldman is the author of Carry on Baggage and Tightrope and the afternoon drive show presenter on Chai FM.

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