With South Africa and Zimbabwe overrun with infringements of human rights and abuse, a local human rights delegation elected to travel to Israel to assess the situation there.
Local communities are at present subjected to a flagrant disregard for their basic human rights through failure to deliver speedily on promises of essential services, housing and employment. This arises primarily from corruption, elitism and propping up a demonic regime in Zimbabwe. On any given day a trip to any of our townships, squatter camps or even Lindela, where exiles are deported, will open your eyes to a whole new world.
As the biggest victims of apartheid, the poorest black communities, were overrun by millions of Zimbabwean exiles who began competing with them for their scant resources, they grew angry; non-delivery being compounded by competition for the little there was. Then to add insult to injury, instead of being advised of the basis for non-delivery or having these exiles foisted upon them, they were styled criminals.
Any number of questions present themselves including, but by no means limited to: who stole the Eastern Cape feeding scheme money, why are houses destined for locals being given to exiles who bribe local councils and what action was taken against the geniuses who fixed the price of bread while our masses are starving? A crime against humanity if ever I’ve seen one.
In Zimbabwe, of course, we are down to a life expectancy of 37, violence which continues despite negotiations and 5 million on the brink of starvation. Then there is the crossover ie the exiles who ran from their brutality to ours.
So all in all any delegation on human rights debate involving South Africans should be focusing on the mountain of issues here and in Zimbabwe.
Israel on the other hand has more human rights delegations than citizens, each and every kind of media monitoring progress and a permanent United Nations presence. We know more about Israel than any other country in the world.
This begs the question of why a South African delegation thought it necessary to go there in the first place. Firstly they are surplus to requirements and secondly there is a desperate need for this kind of delegation in Zimbabwe. Heaven knows, we never get to hear the ones the president sends in report back.
I make no bones about the fact that I am an Orthodox Jew who believes that a two state solution is the answer for the Israeli/Palestinian question. How best to achieve that would be better dealt with by parties who understand the area and all its problems.
That said, I do not excuse or condone any human rights abuses on the part of the Israelis or the Palestinians. Both sides must be held accountable for their conduct and where abuses are encountered they must be reported and sanctioned.
Human rights groups are a very necessary watchdog against the abuses that are going on almost daily and should act as a deterrent. As long as it is handled impartially and with both eyes open.
I note, however, that our delegation appears to see fault mainly on one side of the equation. Mention is even made of a David and Goliath situation. I tend to agree with that — 1.5 billion Muslims supporting the Palestinians while 13 million Jews siding with Israel would certainly justify that description.
Regardless, I expect a Jewish state to do the right thing and where they fall short, I fully expect them to face the wrath of the international community. As I would in the case of the Palestinians as well.
What annoys many local Jews and with good reason, is the uneven handling of our (South African) coverage of the situation. Balance seems to be somewhat in short supply.
While passing mention is made of Israeli suffering, the focus seems fixed on the Palestinian side. In reality both sides are suffering heavily as a result of this ongoing conflict.
To assist the South African delegation I enclose an article in Reuters on a report from Human Rights Watch which came out today. Judging from what I’m reading, this kind of problem has escaped your notice
In general readers can Google Israel or Palestinian News Results and you will find that that conflict is covered from every conceivable angle with intensive analysis from every country in the region. Any slip hits the headlines in the region and throughout the world.
Our focus needs to be on our region which is undergoing a critical period. If you feel you want to travel and cover an area which does not have adequate reporting, but human rights abuses worse than our own abound, may I suggest Myanmar?
I hear it’s hot this time of year.
In a related story the big news of the day has been the shock announcement by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that he will be standing down on September 17 when his party Kadima elect a new leader.
Olmert has had problems with corruption allegations which appear to have forced his hand.
One thing about South Africa and the Middle East — it’s never boring.