The Jewish Report Editorial

Do your research before taking a stand

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The list of ANC bigwigs supporting this Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) fast in sympathy with the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike is very long and I find it quite distressing.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | May 18, 2017

You may be thinking, but surely this is no surprise, considering how many times we have had ANC officials supporting BDS events and making negative statements about Israel.

That is true, I am not surprised at some of the usual suspects who have taken a clear decision to support BDS. In many cases, those people have really considered the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, done their homework and they had made their decision. While I may not necessarily agree with them, I respect their right to hold a considered opinion.

Then, there are those who seem to know very little, but have decided that Israel is the bad guy and the Palestinians are downtrodden and mistreated. These are eternal activists who latch onto any popular cause in which it appears there are “oppressed” people. So, they would automatically support the Palestinians because everyone else seems to be doing it and frankly they get a lot of media for their cause.

These “activists” are unlikely to be concerned about the Syrian refugees or the way the Syrian government is treating its people, making them want to run away. Then there are the Falun Gong in China who are treated badly and forbidden from following their chosen way of life. I could go on… There are so many unconscionable human rights abuses perpetrated by governments.

But members of the ANC and other prominent South Africans, have got stuck on the Palestinian cause, which is apparently far more fashionable and, clearly, better publicised than the others.

Some of these top officials have made public accusations against Israel that are outrageous and not even vaguely true. Come on, at least they could do some homework before making these statements.

Again, I say, they have a right to their opinions but opinions should only be borne out by knowing the facts.

So, this week, all these people chose not to eat for a day, which in all honesty is not that difficult if you are still allowed to drink. That is beside the point.

I want to know if all of those people fasting are aware of the reasons for the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike.

While some of the demands seem pretty genuine, like installing a public payphone for prisoners’ use and improved visitation rights and annual medical examinations. However, Israel complies with international laws about prison conditions. That is a fact and so many of the prisoners’ sound demands are already met.

However, their big requests include: access to 20 TV channels, cancelling disciplinary action against prisoners and installing air conditioners in the prisons.

They also demand to be able to prepare their own food and manage their own kitchen and have free reign of the prison in summer until 22:00. Hmmm, I am surprised they haven’t asked for room service and an indoor bowling alley.

Okay, yes, I am being facetious, but before our ministers consider going on a sympathetic fast, perhaps they could check the prisons out. Go and visit! Look before you publicly make statements to support the hunger strikers.

Are the conditions so bad, or are we just going to take the word of Marwan Barghouti, a senior member of the West Bank’s Fatah party, who led Palestinians through two intifadas. He is not a detainee, he was tried and convicted in an Israeli court of five counts of murder and of being a member of a terrorist organisation.

Also, he was caught on film eating when he was apparently still on hunger strike.

So, should our ministers and the ANC members who agreed to fast, not be wondering if this is really about prison conditions or just scoring political points?

Once again, I respect people who have thought this through and researched their standpoint before they assume it – whether or not I agree with them. I find it unacceptable that so many others just jump on the popular bandwagon because it seems like the right thing to do.

Shabbat Shalom!




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