Dirco’s hypocrisy knows no bounds

  • Letter3
Accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing, the South African envoy to the United Nations, Clinton Swemmer, cited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement about annexing the Jordan Valley. Surely, he remembers similar statements by Netanyahu prior to the previous elections. Even a diplomat should understand political rhetoric, similar to the promise that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa made before the South African elections of building a million new homes in Alexandra - promises, promises for political expediency.
by Allan Wolman, Israel | Oct 10, 2019

The envoy’s remarks about ethnic cleansing were fallacious in the extreme. How can there be ethnic cleansing when the Palestinian population has grown exponentially? Could he perhaps be referring to the Christian population in Palestine that declined from about 10% in the 1960s to less than 1% today. Bethlehem and surrounding villages were 86% Christian, but by 2016, the Christian population had dipped to just 12%. Prior to Israel’s withdrawal, the Christian population in Gaza numbered more than 5 000, whereas as today, it numbers less than 1 000.

The minister and deputy minister of the department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) are women. Yet, in the face of the recent wave of gender-based violence in South Africa, Swemmer makes no mention of the horrific gender-based violence in almost the entire Arab world with which South Africa maintains strong diplomatic relations, but deems it necessary to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel.

Dirco has ignored the plight of women in the Arab world whose lot is worse than that of a goat, who have no or little rights, and are subject to the whim of their father or husband. More than 90 million girls are pressed into forced marriages and genital mutilation is common practice. So too is stoning to death for being the victim of rape in Iran. Honour killing is accepted as a norm in Arab society. Limb amputation and the flogging of both men and women is the favoured method of punishment in many countries of the Levant, and the beheading of criminals is common practice in Saudi Arabia. 

But the South African ministry of foreign relations headed by two women has yet to raise any concern with these countries, but is quick to vilify a country whose women enjoy some of the most liberal rights in the world, whose status is equal to men, and who participate in all aspects of political and civilian life. A country where fair and free elections are held every four years, and sometime even more frequently.

In the Arab world, women are barred from participating - that is, if elections ever take place in many of these countries. The hypocrisy of Dirco knows no bounds, given that Ramaphosa has committed in the strongest terms to combat gender-based violence. Yet, his foreign affairs ministry seems to condone the treatment of women in the Arab world with which South Africa maintains the closest of relations.



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