Unwitting Jewish role in ANC succession battle

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The overt anti-Israel bias of the ANC and traditional anti-Semitic themes appearing recently in ANC infighting over the potential successor to President Jacob Zuma as party president at the end of this year, have reared ugly heads over the past few days in the media.
by SUZANNE BELLING | Jan 19, 2017

The SA Jewish Report obtained statements on these issues from Wendy Kahn, national director of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and Daniel Silke, well-known political analyst.

A report in City Press (also published online by News24) on Sunday referred to allegations made by opponents of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa,  a front runner to succeed Zuma, including that he was “in the pockets of the Jews”.

Silke said that unfortunately, nothing created more uncertainty and heightened political risk than succession politics.

“With the extreme factionalism present in the governing ANC, the political games associated with choosing the next leader of the ANC - and potentially the country - have heightened political risk.

“In an atmosphere of jockeying for power and position, ‘dirty tricks’ tactics which involve negative rhetoric may be forthcoming. The accusation that Cyril Ramaphosa is ‘in the pockets of the Jews’ smacks of a rather transparent attempt to discredit him using well-worn anti-Semitic references.”

This was not the first time, he said, that such references had been made. The DA and also its former leader, Tony Leon, were been subject to similar smears.

“While we can expect an increase of this type of tactic, it is very transparent and somewhat crude, making its longevity more limited. It should be seen - alongside other signs of sleazy political baiting - as reflective of competing interests which disregard reality in order to further narrow aims and ambitions.

“It may well be a time to be vigilant against this type of slur but it should not be seen as a mainstream surge in anti-Semitism,” Silke said.

Kahn said using Jews as a “political football” was not a new phenomenon.  

“Often, prior to political change in our country, such as elections and succession races, ‘The Jew’ becomes a rallying point in the discourse.”

She gave the example of Marius Fransman, former leader of the ANC in the Western Cape, who in 2012 attempted to demonise Western Cape Jewry as a way to win votes for the ANC from the substantial Muslim community. 

The SAJBD took him to the Human Rights Commission as this kind of incitement is unacceptable.

“We will continue to monitor this disturbing trend and to take action where needed.

“The SAJBD works continuously in many forums to educate South African society on the need for tolerance and acceptance of difference,” she said.

Referring to the ANC statement criticising the visit by DA leader Mmusi Maimane to Israel last week, Kahn said: “It is disappointing to see the ANC once again displaying overt bias and double-standards when it comes to visiting Israel.

“Not only is this wholly inconsistent with its policy concerning other conflict regions in the world, but it directly undermines the sincere attempts that our government is making to assist in advancing dialogue and peace-making in the region.

“One also has to ask why it is that the ANC, in common with other hard-line anti-Israel lobbyists, is so anxious to discourage people from going to Israel see at first-hand what is actually happening there.

“Could it be that they fear that in doing so, they will be exposed to on-the-ground information and perspectives that contradict the official party narrative, and as a result will formulate their own opinions?

“Insisting that South Africans not travel to Israel, and only Israel, is not only blatantly discriminatory, but also at the end of the day amounts to a form of unwarranted censorship that contradicts South Africa’s own hard-won democratic ethos.

“We can only hope that more sensible voices within the ruling party will ultimately prevail, and that the example of Nelson Mandela, who personally visited Israel and met with leaders and opinion-makers across the spectrum, will be followed.

“It is significant that even the Palestinian Authority has not called for travel bans, and that on the Palestinian side only Hamas, whose outright rejection of any final peace agreement with Israel is well known, has welcomed the ANC’s stance.”

1 Comment

  1. 1 nat cheiman 23 Jan
    Africa exports little or nothing because [many of -Moderatior] its politicians are always struggling internally.
    Moreover, the ANC has been left behind in the modern world .....................except for luxury German sedans and watches and credit cards. The rest is colonial nonsense which needs to be decolonised.


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