/ 8 September 2017

Letters to the editor: September 8 to 14 2017

Cultural coalition: Israel has rescued thousands of Ethiopian Jews
Cultural coalition: Israel has rescued thousands of Ethiopian Jews

New vigour in Smith’s Israel-bashing

Janet Smith has emerged from what seems a long absence from print media, but this absence has not dampened her zest for vilifying and hatred for Israel, when writing in the Mail & Guardian about Israel’s forays into Africa (“Israel joins the new scramble for Africa”, September 1).

What seems to really get up her nose is that Israel’s diplomatic initiative in Africa is becoming increasingly effective as many African countries are putting the interests of their people first, something that Smith and our politicians can’t see.

Rather than import a completely painless circumcision device called PrePlex from Israel, which could save the lives of hundreds of botched circumcisions of young initiates, the ANC’s view is rather to let them die a terrible death.

There are any number of humanitarian inventions and initiatives that Israel can offer Africa to ease the lives of its people, from high-tech irrigation schemes to feed millions, first-world medicine and also security — but Smith wouldn’t have that — rather let the people suffer. That’s when hatred defeats practicality.

Here’s the thing that Smith and her friends from the BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] movement — whose call to shoot the Jew, “dubula iJuda”, still resonates — can’t get their heads around: they refuse to look back and acknowledge that there needs be no occupation, no blockade of Gaza and none of the other conditions she lists given that the Palestinian Authority was offered a safe, independent and economically viable state on three occasions — all under a different Israeli leadership than the current government. All on far better terms than are being discussed today.

Why, Smith, do we still have an occupation? In her Goebbelian style she tells us that this is the only occupation in the world. Did she forget Cyprus or Tibet or Western Sahara? But then geopolitics is not her strong point when in Israeli-bashing mode.

Isn’t it comforting when Smith tells us that South Africa has an ambassador to Syria? Could that be the same Syria whose demented president has killed off almost half a million of his citizens and displaced more than eight million people who now languish in squalid camps? Has Smith, or anyone for that matter, called for a downgrading or breaking of relations with that genocidal country?

She also has a lot of criticism for Israel rescuing thousands of Ethiopian Jews. What other country has done anything that can compare to saving the lives of thousands of destitute Africans? Name just one, Ms Smith.

In the same paragraph, the Zionist “trope” creeps into her narrative and don’t we all know what she means when using that word! — Allan Wolman, Johannesburg

Sexist norms must be challenged

Last week, a storm about the sex life of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa erupted. His decision to take the matter to court left some salivating about what details he was trying to suppress. The editor-at-large of Huffington Post, Ferial Haffajee, wrote in her article titled “The sex scandal won’t kill Ramaphosa”: “Powerful men like bevies of women around them as symbols of their power: pretty much as they like pulling up their cuffs to reveal an expensive watch or use a fast car as an extension of their drive. It’s patriarchal, demeaning and sexist but it’s a phenomenon and Ramaphosa will not be mortally wounded by his first public sex scandal.”

The Ramaphosa story follows that of Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, who was exposed for sexting a younger colleague.

In an unexpected, disgusting turn of events, the alleged roving eyes of the two presidential candidates, Ramaphosa and Radebe, have turned the focus to their wives who happen to share the Motsepe surname. More specifically, it focused on their performance in the bedroom.

It is typical of a patriarchal society to shift blame and focus from the man as the wrongdoer to shame women who have nothing to do with the matter. The trashy behaviour of two adult men is being condoned by questioning the sexual ability of women. This is short of saying the women made the men cheat. It absolves the men of any responsibility for their actions. Instead of questioning the men’s lack of restraint and their loose morals, women are being blamed for the actions of men. This demeaning question about the performance of the Motsepe women in the bedroom seeks to justify the actions of their husbands who were caught with their pants down.

It cannot be right that society does not challenge a phenomenon that is sexist and demeans women. It is time for men to take full responsibility for their actions and the necessary punishment should be meted out if it needs be. — Luzuko Pongoma, Naturena

We remain morally bankrupt

The future does not look so bright for Sibongile Mani, the Walter Sisulu University student and National Student Financial Aid Scheme beneficiary who erroneously had R14.1-million loaded on to her IntelliMali meal card.

Mani’s not-so-bright splurges on parties, cellphones, alcohol and weaves have irritated and angered me because she showed no consideration for students who would have benefited from the money.

Her unethical conduct is further exacerbated by the fact that she is a student leader. Some talk radio listeners have suggested she should have, like Robin Hood, spent the money on charitable causes, whereas others felt she should not pay back a cent of the R800 000 she has already spent.

Condoning this woman’s actions, though, shows that South Africans are morally bankrupt. The morally bankrupt man from Nkandla was elected to his position by a morally bankrupt electorate who willingly ignored allegations that he raped a young woman with whom he had enjoyed an avuncular relationship for years. Just saying. — Sandile Ntuli, Johannesburg