ANC lashes out at Jews before S. African elections

Comment: A ferocious battle is shaping up in the Western Cape, the only province ruled by the main opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA).

By BEN LEVITAS
March 5, 2013 04:49
MARIUS FRANSMAN

MARIUS FRANSMAN 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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CAPE TOWN – With the date for elections, which must take place before July 2014, fast approaching, the African Nationalist Congress (ANC) aims not only to secure its unassailable position as the national governing party, but also wishes to govern in each of the nine Provinces. A ferocious battle is shaping up in the Western Cape, the only province ruled by the main opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Cape Town is South Africa’s showpiece city, due to its well-run DA Municipality, which breaks the mold of corruption and nepotism so prevalent in other municipalities.

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Cape Town is a city that works – its downtown area is safe and cosmopolitan, pulsating with coffee shops, clubs and pedestrian- only streets.

Behind the scenes, but now spilling into the public domain, the ANC is preparing a battle plan that threatens to not only shatter the peace of Cape Town, but to fragment communities they consider to be dispensable. Marius Fransman, leader of the ANC in the Western Cape, said the ANC is ready for the 2014 elections and that “we have analyzed the Western Cape and made an assessment,” which is that they require the Muslim vote to win.

Roughly 700,000 Muslims live in the Cape, in contrast to only 16,000 Jews. The opening salvoes of Fransman’s strategy have been to link the DA to its alleged support of Israel, by saying “one of the main issues the DA needs to be taken to task on is its stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. We’ve seen the DA speaking in four tongues on the issue of Palestine.”

In reality and for obvious reasons, the DA has refrained from being sucked into Middle Eastern politics and has steered a deliberate neutral path.

Fransman has expressed his partisan support for the Palestinians on numerous occasions and in his infamous Voice Of the Cape radio interview on February 26, in which he said “I am also the deputy minister of international relations, and we are very concerned about the parties in the country that have an anti-Palestinian agenda. They want the voters from the Muslim community, but they are doing everything in their power not to support the Palestinian people.” Fransman then ventured to identify his party with the poor whose plight he also blamed on the DA, by saying that the “DA has acted against the will of the poor.” He thereby tried to reinforce what previously was a widely held stereotype – that the DA is a party supported by mainly rich and white people.



But then Fransman got carried away in his eagerness to win favor with the Muslims, by making an explicit anti-Jewish remark: “We have picked up that the DA has handed over building contracts in Bo-Kaap, in Woodstock and Observatory that were historically in the hands of Muslims – now they have given them to the Jewish community. This is not right.

They must not divide our people.

We must try to unify our people.

Therefore, it is something that I am specifically concerned about as the leader of the ANC in the Western Cape, and we want to warn the community to see how best we can empower them.”

By highlighting the “plight of the Muslim community” and then proceeding to insinuate that Jews in some way are unjustly misappropriating what Muslims should be entitled to, Fransman insinuates that Jews are usurpers – not true South Africans – and he fails to acknowledge that they too have historical rights to land and contracts in these areas. By referring to Muslims as “our people,” he clearly portrays Jews as not our people. His statements are overtly racist and divisive and cannot be left unchallenged.

These utterances are consistent with Fransman’s speech to the Muslim community n Athlone on July 14, 2012, in which he said that “economic diplomacy could be one of the most effective weapons of change in the Palestinian situation. Palestinians and their supporters, inspired by the economic boycott of apartheid era South Africa, have been trying for years to emulate our success in that terrain.

“Until now their campaign of divestment and boycott has had negligible economic effect, but the voice of our government could be a symbolic boost. However, I am glad to inform you that our government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has recently, in May 2012, released a government notice... as a strategy to apply economic pressure on Israel.”

He then went on to note that he was “ highly inspired by the role played by [pro-Palestinian] organizations such Open Shuhada Street, PSG, the MJC, Al Quds Foundation and others.”

It is poignant to note that the Al Quds Foundation does not recognize Israel even in its pre-1967 territory (before the so-called “occupation”), as in its June 2009 editorial it blamed Israel for “occupying Palestine for more than 60 years, [with Palestinians] uprooted for more than 60 years, living in fear for more than 60 years. When does it all end?” I have previously challenged Fransman about this viewpoint and questioned whether it is official South African government policy not to recognize Israel, in its pre-1967 borders.

With the effluxion of time, during the 4th ANC Policy Conference at Gallagher Estate and subsequently in December 2012 during the ANC conference in Mangaung, the ANC passed a plethora of anti-Israel resolutions and adopted boycotts and sanctions against Israel as official ANC policy.

There are sound historical reasons for a close bond between the ANC and the PLO, particularly because of the PLO’s support for the struggle against the minority apartheid regime, which are acknowledged by South African Jews. It is, however, concerning for Jews to feel they are blamed for the ties between apartheid South Africa and Israel, when Israel was not even among the top 10 trading partners of apartheid South Africa.

The US and Europe were by a long shot the largest trade partners and military equipment suppliers of this regime. Saudi Arabia and Iraq supplied oil.

It is this obsessional focus only on Israel’s alleged transgressions that prevents South Africa from putting the past behind it and allowing normal trade, cultural and social relations from developing with Israel.

The coup de grace in these deteriorating relations is the spillover from the anti-Israel invective to the anti-Semitic invective.

The writer is chairman of the South African Zionist Federation’s Cape Council.

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