The UN Commission of Inquiry tasked with investigating Israel for supposed “crimes” against the Palestinians, headed by the virulently anti-Israel Navi Pillay, has just issued its report, which includes, among other calumnies, the charge that Israel practices apartheid. Black South Africans who were victims of the original, South-African brand of apartheid were incensed at this charge and have answered it, citing the real situation in Israel and invoking both Martin Luther King (“When People Criticize Zionists, They Mean Jews”), and Nelson Mandela (“Israel Has The Right To Exist”). A report on their demonstration against the Pillay Report is here: “‘Nelson Mandela Would Not Approve’: South Africans Denounce UN Report on Palestinians,” by Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, June 10, 2022:
A group of pro-Israel South Africans has invoked the figure of the late Nelson Mandela, the iconic leader of their country’s anti-apartheid struggle, in a forthright condemnation of the recent UN Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry (COI) report that blamed Israel’s “perpetual occupation” for the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.
How can Israel be accused of “occupying” the very territory that was assigned to the future Jewish National Home by the League of Nations in its Mandate for Palestine (1920), that included all the land “from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean sea”? Were the Jews “occupiers” in 1948, when five Arab armies invaded to snuff out the young life of the Jewish state? Were they “occupiers” in 1967, when three Arab armies, led by Egypt’s Nasser, tried to undo the “nakba” of 1948 and destroy the Jewish state, but instead lost the Sinai, the Golan, and Judea and Samaria (a/k/a the West Bank) to a victorious Israel?
In a statement issued this week by the South African Friends of Israel (SAFI), a collection of church and community leaders argued that Mandela — South Africa’s first post-apartheid president — would have rejected the report’s findings.
“We sincerely doubt that our first democratically elected president, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, would approve of a situation where the antisemitism of Hamas was put on the same moral standing as the righteous fight of black people against the white supremacy of apartheid,” the statement declared.
Signatories to the statement included Nosipho Dladla of the God’s Throne of Grace church, Klaas Mokgmole of the Africans for Peace advocacy group and Mosala Nyawusa of the Clive Nashishi Foundation.
The statement pointed out that “Mandela never sought to eliminate white people from the land of South Africa [as the Arabs wish to eliminate the Jews from “Palestine”]. Rather, he preached reconciliation, which earned him the love and respect of even his jailer on Robben Island. We ask this UN COI to consider the harm that allowing the apartheid label to be applied to Israel does to the legacy of anti-apartheid stalwarts like Madiba [Mandela’s honorific name], who wanted all South Africans to live in peace.”
The Palestinians have made clear that their goal is to “eliminate” the state of Israel, and to expel all the Jews from the land between the river and the sea. Hamas wants to accomplish this quickly, using violence – terrorism — as well as conventional warfare as its preferred instrument. The Palestinian Authority has a longer time frame; it hopes to undermine Israel through economic and political pressure, in order to squeeze “the Jews” back within the 1949 armistice lines, which Abba Eban famously described as “the lines of Auschwitz,” with a nine-mile wide waist from Qalqilya to the sea, in the hope of weakening Israel sufficiently so that the Palestinians, aided by other Arabs and Muslims, could then assault, successfully this time, the Jewish state. Hamas and the PA share the same goal. They differ only on tactics and timing.
Mandela made his feelings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict clear during a 1993 speech. “As a movement we recognize the legitimacy of Palestinian nationalism just as we recognize the legitimacy of Zionism as a Jewish nationalism. We insist on the right of the state of Israel to exist within secure borders but with equal vigor support the Palestinian right to national self-determination,” Mandela said at the time, expressing sentiments at odds with many of his colleagues in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) who endorsed the analogy between Israel and the apartheid regime.
Last year, a billboard campaign sponsored by SAFI [South Africans For Israel] in Johannesburg featured a photo of Mandela alongside his quote, “We insist on the right of the State of Israel to exist.”
Clearly, Navi Pillay and her fellows on the UN Commission of Inquiry do not share Mandela’s view. A former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, South African Navi Pillay is notorious for her antipathy to Israel throughout her tenure. The new “Commission of Inquiry” was a kangaroo court, with Israel in the dock and a pre-determined verdict of “Guilty.”
Here are brief biographies of the three members of the COI:
Navi Pillay, appointed to head the COI, is well known for her bias towards Israel while UN High Commissioner of Human Rights in 2008-2014. In this position, she empaneled four fact-finding missions targeting Israel, more than any other country; oversaw the discredited Goldstone Report, which was later rejected by its primary author; permitted the appointment of the notoriously antisemitic Richard Falk as the Special Rapporteur for the Palestinians; and convened the 2009 Durban II conference, which was boycotted by most democracies, and provided Iranian President Mahmud Ahmedinejad a prominent platform to disseminate antisemitic vitriol. Because of this record, on February 14, 2022, UN Watch filed a brief calling for her recusal from the COI.
Chris Sidoti has been described as a “close friend and ally” to the PA framework known as the Independent Commission for Human Rights and sits on the advisory council of AJIC, an Australian NGO that calls Israel a “settler colonial apartheid regime” and has accused Israel of committing crimes during the May 2021 conflict. His position with AJIC, a group that has taken extreme positions on matters directly under investigation by the COI, and his role with a PA entity, present clear conflicts of interest disqualifying him under UN rules and international fact-finding standards.
Nearly 20 years ago, Miloon Kothari entered Israel under false pretenses in order to prepare a UN report (also in cooperation with radical NGOs). That publication erases the context of mass Palestinian suicide bombings that killed and wounded thousands of civilians, whitewashing terrorism and other war crimes as “Palestinian resistance.” It also employs highly inflammatory rhetoric, accusing Israel of “massacring” and “ethnically cleansing” Palestinians and falsely asserting that “the basic theocratic character of the Israeli legal system establishes ethnic criteria as the grounds for the enjoyment of full rights” (report available here )/ Kothari’s troubling statements relating to Palestinian terrorism and his reliance on false NGO claims suggest he is unable to fulfill the COI mandate in accordance with UN standards.
Back to the South African statement:
The statement [of the pro-Israel black Africans] additionally attacked the comparison between Israel and the white minority regime. “As South Africans, we know what apartheid is, we lived through it and its legacy continues to blight our society to this day,” it said. “Through this evil regime, black people were denied equal access to government services; citizenship rights; property ownership, equal rights and participation in the democratic process. To claim that this is the current status of Arab Israelis is to deliberately distort reality. The truth is that Arabs in Israel hold positions of power in the judiciary, parliament, and military and are even members of the governing coalition.”
Let’s flesh out that statement about the so-called “apartheid” in Israel. Unlike the condition of blacks in apartheid South Africa, Arabs have equal rights to Jews in Israel. They have the right to vote, to free speech, to freedom of religion, have the right both to own, and to buy and sell property, have the right to equal medical care and education, and enjoy equality before the law All these are guaranteed by the Israeli state. Arabs sit in the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court, go abroad as ambassadors. The chairman of the largest bank in Israel, Bank Leumi, is an Arab. Jews and Arabs attend the same universities, work in the same factories and offices, are treated in the same hospitals by both Jewish and Arab doctors and nurses. They play on the same sports teams – an Arab is the captain of Israel’s national soccer team – and in the same orchestras. Arabs and Jews go into business together – everything from restaurants to high tech start-ups. There is only one difference in their treatment: Jews must, while Arabs may, serve in the military. Where is the apartheid in any of this?
The Israeli government issued a full-scale rejection of the report, dismissing it as a “biased and one-sided report tainted with hatred for the State of Israel and based on a long series of previous one-sided and biased reports, [which] disregards years of murderous terrorism by Palestinian terrorist organizations against Israeli citizens, as well as the Palestinians’ long-standing obstinacy and the vicious and antisemitic incitement carried out by the Palestinian Authority and its networks.
In South Africa, some black men and women have rejected the COI’s malevolence and stood up in public to express their support for embattled Israel. In the current atmosphere in South Africa, that took courage. Let’s be grateful to Nosipho Dladla of the God’s Throne of Grace church, Klaas Mokgmole of the Africans for Peace advocacy group, Mosala Nyawusa of the Clive Nashishi Foundation, and others, little known in the great world, who have put to shame those well-known “human rights activists” Navi Pillay, Chris Sidoti, and Miloon Kothari.