South Africa needs to take the blinkers off

The current tactics used by anti-Israel groups and especially with the support of senior members of the ANC and government is counter-productive. Instead of building trust through a more nuanced and balanced approach, distrust is guaranteed by applying raw aggressive and unsophisticated tactics.

It is understandable that South Africa’s tri-partite alliance will side with the Palestinian cause, but it is unfortunate that it is done in such a way that it endangers the chances for them to be a legitimate partner in a future peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Alliance partners should rather adopt a more holistic approach by considering the fear and ambitions of both sides in the conflict. To take part in rallies branding Israel as the aggressor while rockets are fired on its civilian population, evidently many times from civilian areas in Gaza to extract collateral damage, are not helpful. To support rallies in which Hamas is idolized is disastrous – I refer to a rally in the streets of Cape Town last year where children displaying props in the form of rockets and guns.

With the advent of ISIS, some commentators clearly started to understand the dangers radical Islam poses and also beginning to question the modus operandi of Hamas. Hopefully, this sober analysis will filter through to more people of influence and especially the tri-partite alliance in South Africa.

Although the South African situation could not be superimposed on the Israel/Palestinian situation, the South African Government, with its experience of reconciliation processes, could’ve played a constructive role. Unfortunately, the South African Government relinquished that role by the statements of its Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe when he urged Ministers and Government Representatives not to visit Israel and the recent hero’s welcome of Leila Khaled, a hijacker of planes and member of the PFLP. History will judge South Africa on a missed opportunity to play a constructive role in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, the media too forsook the opportunity to play a constructive role by not reporting and informing people in an unbiased way. This is an international phenomenon and many times the media agencies are to blame as the local media are dependent on agencies, such as Reuters, AFP, etc.

Involvement in peace initiatives should not be clouded by political motives and ideology, but driven by an honest endeavour to reach a lasting peace.

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