Cape Town, South Africa.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In October a delegation from the terrorist organization Hamas, headed its leader Khaled Mashaal, arrived in Cape Town. They had been invited by the African National Congress, the political party that rules South Africa. The planning, we were told, had taken nine years (one can take that with a pinch of humus).
Led by President Jacob Zuma, the ANC apparently has the belief that they can play a role in a Palestinian-Israel reconciliation.
After all, the ANC argues, South Africans were oppressed by an apartheid white government and they eventually won through peaceful dialogue. (Note that this word “apartheid,” which is being bandied about nowadays with reference to Israel, has come to mean whatever the user wants it to mean.) A letter of intent was signed by Mashaal and President Zuma concerning South African support for Gaza. At a rally in Cape Town, Mashaal condemned ISIS actions as extremism “not acceptable” to Islam (as the saying goes, he would, wouldn’t he?).
As expected, the Hamas visit caused shock to the Jewish community in South Africa.
Wendy Kahn, director of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, commented on the distress of the local Jewish community, essentially asking why an organization whose charter is based on hatred of the Jews and the need to slaughter them has been so warmly received.
In South Africa, as all over the Diaspora, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are likely to be a prelude to killing Jews. Remembering that the historic Jewish narrative from time immemorial to today contains suffering from hatred, pogroms and the Holocaust, more violence against Jews seems to a natural and inevitable development.
A storm was caused when the largest South African newspaper, the Sunday Times, would not accept a full page ad from a group called The South African Friends of Israel. It finally recanted and last Sunday, November 8, the ad appeared. It was the entire page 5. In large print it says: According to Hamas, Jihad is the only way to achieve “peace.” The phrase “And it gets worse” is used several times. For those who want to know more about who Hamas is, there are 12 links on the page – including one to the huge welcome that the Hamas leader got in Cape Town.
Many see the visit as an obvious political strategy to win Moslem votes in the elections next year. The Cape province, the only one not ruled by the ANC, has a large Moslem population.
On another topic, after days of protests, uproar and demonstrations, South African universities seem to have quieted down. The students were protesting a proposed 10% increase in fees for next year. Universities re-open here at the end of January.
The fee-hike proposal brought students at almost all the universities onto the streets with their cry “#Fees Must Fall” (pronounced “hashtag – fees must fall’). When the government canceled the 10% increase, the student demands shifted to “free tertiary education.”
The government then promised that all monies would be found to ensure that the university fees don’t increase next year. But where would the 2.7 billion rands come from? Easily answered: Tax a sinking tax base even more. Remember the next year is two months away! It seemed that the African Spring had sprung. Was it all over? On Friday November 6, students at the University of Johannesburg defied a court order barring them from going near their campus.
The police were called in and an unseemly brawl took place, resulting in 140 arrests students and staff. They spent the night in jail, but were released the next day to a joyous reception from their comrades.
The University of Johannesburg started life as The Rand Afrikaans University under the last white government and was known as a bastion of apartheid. Now it has mostly black students. It is worth recalling that a few years ago, this University and Ben Gurion University pledged to work together on water development projects in South Africa.
The project never got underway. Pro-Palestinian (or more likely, anti-Israel) elements forced the cancellation of the deal. Ironically, with South Africa facing a severe drought and water shortage crisis, one wonders who the loser is.
There has been a lot of talk recently about climate change and global warming.
Durban, along the Kwa-Zulu Natal east coast, has a reputation for mild to hot weather practically the whole year round. Even during the southern mid-winter, June to August, when it is freezing inland, Durban people can go to the beaches. Many don’t have winter coats, extra blankets, heavy sweaters or heaters in their homes. “Winter?” they ask, “what’s that?” Yet in the last week in October, Durban was “attacked” by cold gale-force winds emptying beaches and bending trees over.
Reports have been received of snow on the mountains less than 150 kilometers inland.
Snow? October? Something is wrong somewhere! Perhaps the various discussions taking place should not be about global warming, but rather about global freezing! With seagulls struggling to cope with the plummeting temperatures, one wonders whether those who fly over Durban Bay might be called baygulls – or bagels.