Zionism, not Israel at issue

In "Hostility to Israel an ANC ploy to woo Cape Muslims" (August 31), Ben Levitas, chairperson of the Cape council of the South African Zionist Federation, offers nothing new to convince critics of Israel to rethink their position on this apartheid state.

The various Palestinian-solidarity formations in South Africa are not anti-Israel or anti-Jewish. They are anti-apartheid, anti-discriminatory, anti-Zionist and anti-oppression: they seek justice and fairness for all.

To the ill-informed, Levitas's pro-Israel arguments may sound convincing. But John Dugard, the former United Nations human rights rapporteur, stated in 2007 that "Israel is clearly in military occupation of the occupied Palestinian territories. At the same time, elements of the occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid and are contrary to international law." Article 7(1)(j) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court calls apartheid a crime that includes murder, extermination, enslavement, torture, arbitrary arrest, illegal imprisonment, denial of the right to life and liberty, and other abuse by one group of another.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim is aware of these human rights violations and the flouting of international law by the Zionist authorities. The core of Zionism is a sophisticated regime of political, social, economic and legal discrimination that has led to colonialism and apartheid as well as the displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Muslim support for the ANC in the Western Cape is based on the community's history during the apartheid era. Any suggestion otherwise is mischievous, or Levitas simply does not understand the psyche of the Muslim voter. – Ibrahim Vawda, Media Review Network

Levitas fails to understand that South Africa's foreign policy regarding Palestine is not based on economic profitability, but on morality. South Africa, because of its history of apartheid, has always been sympathetic to the Palestinian plight.

Palestinians are forced to carry around identity booklets and have their movements inhibited by Israeli checkpoints. This is similar to the conditions black South Africans lived under during apartheid.

South Africa's support for Palestine should not be considered a "threat" to Israel. It is possible for the South African government to maintain relations with both nations. But although South Africa continues its economic and political relationship with Israel, it does feel the need to take a stand against the injustices committed by Israel in Palestine.

Levitas's claim that "an estimated R30-million has been spent on supporting the Palestinian ambassador in South Africa" is based on false information. His claim that "in the past year, about R2-million has been spent on Palestinian refugees and millions on sports stadiums in the West bank" is equally misinformed. The stadium being built in the West Bank is a joint effort by Ibsa (India, Brazil and South Africa) to help to end the economic crisis in Palestine.

South Africans have chosen to support Palestine in its struggle for nationhood. This does not undermine the importance of a ­relationship with Israel. – Noura Halimeh, Pretoria

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