A Borrowed Title For An Oppressed People.
In last week’s webinar on global racial tensions hosted by The Jerusalem Post Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng expressed support for the state of Israel guided by his Christian beliefs and biblical texts. He stated his disappointment with the South African government’s position vis-à-vis Israel and its tacit support for the Palestinian side, calling for it to rather promote peace guided by its rich experience of reconciliation.
Amidst the COVID-19 phobia that is gripping the world population and claiming lives, there is the continued destruction of human beings’ social fabric through corrosive oppression masked as the right to return and flavoured by unchallenged opinion of those in power and control of the bastions of justice – our leaders the world over.
The opening of the article is an excerpt from the Mail & Guardian online news and it sets the basis of this opinion. When the news broke on the annexation of the West Bank, it came as no surprise because my reading of the history of the Zionist-Arab Conflict made it abundantly clear that the occupation will eventually lead to a fatal takeover of Muslim land in Palestine and would extend beyond the boundaries of Palestine as we know it today which, has been faded out of maps and replaced by the name Israel. The gnawing problem is the continuous human right violations that has continued from the Nakba has rendered the United Nations impotent, limp and useless in meeting its mandate as a global organisation to ensure justice as a means to peace. Sadly, it has become a void and not a voice for the oppressed any more because this world has become so war torn that humanity is shrinking into an abyss of hopelessness. Yes, hopelessness in those who are in power.
LADY MACBETH O, never Shall sun that morrow see!Your face, my thane, is as a book where men may read strange matters. To beguile the time, Look like the time. Bear welcome in your eye,Your hand, your tongue. Look like th’ innocent flower,But be the serpent under ’t. He that’s coming Must be provided for; and you shall putThis night’s great business into my dispatch,60Which shall to all our nights and days to comeGive solely sovereign sway and masterdom. Act 1 Scene 5 Macbeth
In the depth of this thought I could not help but think of the words of Lady Macbeth whose desire for wanton power led to the corruption of the natural order which in turn led to Macbeth’s tragic hero status and the final poetic justice. The point made is that the whole occupation began like a ‘welcoming hand and eye’ but beneath that lied the serpent of human abuse and violation unprecedented in its wake became the template for the occupation of Kashmir and oppressive protocol across the globe to usher sole ‘sovereign, sway and masterdom’ to establish the next world order. From 1881 the Zionist plot was set to ‘beguile time’ and the establishment of the Zionist state began to look like time – time for the second coming.
It is very interesting to note that Benny Morris in Righteous Victims accounts for how the world was beguiled in word and time:
‘In public, Herzl made no explicit reference to the fate of the indigenous Arab population of Palestine, but he was aware of its existence and the problem it represented. In 1899 he wrote to the Arab notable Yusuf Zia al-Khalidi of Jerusalem that Zionism did not pose a threat of the displacement for the Arab inhabitants of Palestine; rather, the arrival of the industrious, talented, well funded Jews would materially benefit them…. But in private Herzl sang a different tune – one of displacement and transfer of Arabs, albeit with full financial compensation. In 1895, he wrote in his diary: “We must expropriate gently…we shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our country…Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.’ – page 21 & 22
My question to the esteemed Chief Justice is what narrative informs his judgment because the basis on the establishment of the Jewish State is not founded on Biblical context too. Consider the fact that the Basel Conference held on 29 August 1897 which was convened by the Zionist Organisation and attended by 200 to 250 delegates from 24 countries dominated by the Hovevei Zion societies led to adopted goal of a Jewish Homeland (Heimstatte – homestead) in Palestine and not a Jewish State because it would antagonise the Turks, Russians and gentiles as Benny Morris records it. What is even more striking by Benny Morris is that he quotes the diary entry of Herzl after the conference that reads: “Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word…it would be this: At Basel I founded a Jewish State…Perhaps in five years, and certainly in 50, everyone will know it.”
In 51 years to the date of Herzl’s diary entry the Jewish State became known. The point of concern is that the narrative of the Chief Justice is blurred by his biblical reading because the Bible too, requires a reading with deep interrogation and contextual reference too. Sadly, it was not done, I think. When Herzl failed to get a charter to begin the establishment of Jewish homeland in Palestine through meeting with the Ottomans, Russians and others, he turned to mighty Britain at the time who offered a patch of East Africa. This became known as the Uganda offer which was rejected in July 1905 by the Seventh Zionist Congress and Palestine became the only goal. This is the narrative that is historical and factual. In the wake of decolonisation then, the Pan African Movement and the Black Consciousness Movement, would Africans accept the occupation of the Uganda? I certainly don’t think so.
In the years that followed no doubt the Jews were killed and tortured in the wave of Russian pogroms and they were righteous victims because all they wanted was a homeland and freedom from persecution. This was the precipitate for the wave of Jewish emigration to Palestine. The years that followed led to the Balfour Declaration and today the history is what it is – a land with a people was usurped for a people without a homeland.
The ‘Righteous Victims‘ then are the indigenous people of Palestine whose land has been taken away and, with the impending annexation, what will be left is fragments of shattered glass on a dusty landscape. Even if collected, it remains impossible to make it whole because like broken glass, societies cannot be put together by planned annihilation. The map below should inform the Chief Justice that something is amiss.
Furthermore, the holocaust that the Jews suffered is a historical fact and that speaks volumes of much Jews were righteous victims because of Nazism and today, the people of Palestine are righteous victims of Zionist brutality. Therefore, the annexation of the West Bank would be the final nail in the coffin to any remote peace plan. In this stark reality, currently in South Africa we are facing the mayhem of forced land grabs and mushrooming of unplanned townships in the name of land expropriation and redress which; if left without some long term strategic plan, can lead to greater political uncertainty when the need for essential services and infrastructure cannot be delivered. The juxtaposition of Apartheid South where the Bible was used to establish an Afrikaner homeland and in Occupied Palestine where the same scenario is playing out is a sure indication that just like ISIS religion has become the righteous victim.
Muslims have been stigmatised as a result of ISIS and now, the Jewish people are going to be stigmatised as a result of an annexation that is not religious in the main at all. Is it that the realty before us is the ringing tone of Yeats‘s The Second Coming ? :
The point driven is to not divide an already divided world but, to seek answers to the narratives we are fed with that shapes our world views. The reality is that when the Diaspora took place and when the second lot of Jews came into Palestine on the Second Aliyah, they came with a host of Jews who were part of the self-defense groups that formed inside Russia in the wake of Kishinev. So they came with the mentality of self-defense into Palestine and viewed the Arabs as gentiles. Their horrid past became their nightmare and a realm they never wanted again and sadly, the people of Palestine paid the price. Very much like the Afrikaner who suffered in concentration camps in South Africa by the British established the Republic on the ideology of the Vaderland and formed a defence so that they must never face the horror of subjugation again and; the indigenous African paid the price. Therefore, I ask again, what narrative is the Chief Justice reading?
James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg in THE GREAT RECKONING mentions: The revival of religion will not merely be a revival of Islam, but Islam will come to define the terms of conflict between North and South…It is also the religion of the frontline states that confront Israel and oppose the aspiration of the Jewish people for a Mideast homeland. (page 226)
The above calls into question how is the world going to react given our COVID-19 Pandemic and a looming catastrophe of the annexation of the West Bank. It is difficult to say what will happen to the already fragmented Middle East and the overwhelming effects of the ravages of wars but; what is not difficult is to challenge the narratives we are feeding the current generation of young people. We need to illustrate to the Chief Justice and the likes that the world is no more the enclave where super-powers are plotting clandestinly behind the scenes but, are blatant and open of their vicious plans and we, humans all over have become righteous victims. When our growing numbers increase to a crescendo, history will record us as having fought the fight seeking justice. ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’
How apt then is it to quote from the Holy Quran on the ayahs (evidences) on how all this really appears to the discerning intellect of people who prefer not to be those led into destruction with noose on their noses. It is very apt. Therefore, ponder on the ayah below with the thinking on how this whole occupation was sold to the world on the platter of reform and redress. It will make sense differently should you apply yourself without prejudice.
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لَا تُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ
And when it is said to them, “Do not cause corruption on the earth,” they say, “We are but reformers. (2:11)
مَنْ قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا
Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.(5:32)
Don’t be a righteous victim too, begin reading more about world history and explore events that shape the world because in you growing your knowledge base, you are telling the world I am not stupid. The simple questions we need to ask ourselves is : “Is there fairness and justice in the way the Jewish State came into being?” and “Would I live under the conditions the Palestinians are living currently?” and “Was Apartheid not a form of corruption on the earth?”
The whole occupation is costly and someone has to fund it. It’s interesting to note Sun Tzu, The Art of War, circa 400 B.C when he said: “Where the army is, prices are high; when prices rise the wealth of the people is exhausted.” because the price of annexation is high and when money is exhausted, who is going to fund the annexation? Therefore, rise righteous victims above your enslavement of mind and ask questions, deep questions and seek answers, answers that have integrity and when you do this, you will become standard bearers of truth. No more righteous victims but victors of truth and justice. The pen is mightier than the sword therefore, let us not enslave ourselves to be victims of narratives that keep us as slaves.
Morris, Benny. Righteous Victims. A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999. Great Britain. John Murray Ltd, 2000.
Rees-Mogg, Lord Williams & Davidson, James Dale. The Great Reckoning. Protect Yourself in the Coming Depression. New York. Simon & Schuster, 1993.