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The Inevitable comes to pass

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Mike Berger

In my previous post I asked the question whether the US was preparing “to throw Israel under the bus?” I answered by outlining the issue as seen through Israeli eyes. The logical answer seemed to be yes.

Well, as predicted by everyone the deal, a supposedly interim deal, was struck. Was it a tougher deal than originally contemplated as a result of French and Israeli resistance? That is not clear to me and I haven’t found any direct reference to a change in terms, if indeed any are to be found. But for the full deal, naturally presented in such a way as to make it look brilliant.

But given Iran’s history and persisting rhetoric, plus the general behaviour of Kerry and Obama, we are entitled to take a pessimistic view, so let’s list briefly the weaknesses of the interim agreement.

  1. Iran is not asked to destroy any of the massive infrastructure it has been systematically accumulating for decades which create the potential for rapid breakout to weaponisation.
  2. It is required to dilute or “convert” its near 20% uranium stockpile but not irreversibly (as for instance into a form incompatible with further enrichment or by sending it to the USA or some other “reliable” country).
  3. It is not asked to destroy or export any of its massive stockpile of 3.5% uranium.
  4. It is required to permit much more regular and intrusive inspections of those aspects identified in the deal (but not new or hidden facilities or related military projects like weaponisation and ballistic research and development).
  5. In the meantime some sanctions will be relaxed amounting to $7 billion at a minimum, and probably significantly more, Should Iran not comply (no absolute dates given but within the next 6 months) the option of more onerous sanctions are available to the P5+1 powers.

But in a remarkable escape clause – which for some reason has escaped critical comment – these requirements (relatively weak as they are) are conditional on them being “permissible within their political systems.” In other words, this remarkable clause suggests that if the Iranians claim that political constraints prevent them from complying with some, or theoretically all, of the provisions listed in the “Interim Deal” than the sanctions will not be renewed and additional sanctions enforced.

Given the fact that sanctions were applied only with the greatest difficulty and after many years of obfuscation and heel-dragging, it requires little imagination to visualise the breach in the dyke represented by the “interim deal” rapidly progressing to a fully-fledged collapse of the sanctions regime. Iran on its part will, if previous behaviour is of any predictive value, do everything within its considerable power to wiggle out of as many requirements as possible and its normal trading partners will rush in to take every advantage of the weakening of the sanctions regime. In short, after a minor hiccup on the way Iran will be on course once again to become either a de facto nuclear power or a de facto “breakout nuclear power” – more likely the former.

In order to reject this pessimistic view one would need to believe

  1. That Iran will be seduced by Obama’s charm and charisma to reverse decades of systematic defiance of Western norms and values, reverse its open hegemonic aspirations, cease its violent anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and call a halt to its sponsorship of terror, extremism and fascistic countries and groups
  2. That the USA under Obama and the West will find the cojones to call Iran’s bluff and to reinstate even more crippling sanctions or resort to military action.

Neither of these outcomes seem likely and Israel, sitting in the crosshairs of a jubilant and resurgent Iran, is faced with a dilemma: wait out the 6 month period while acting the spoiler as the USA and the West do their best to turn a blind eye to Iran’s non-compliance or initiate a military strike on its own. In fact a number of observers are convinced that the purpose of this deal is, in part at least, to inhibit the likelihood of an Israeli military strike. In the words of Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister, Israel was not likely to launch any preventative strikes on Iran, “because no one would understand” such a move “at this stage.”

The next few months will reveal more but it is clear that Israel’s struggle continues at multiple levels. 

Here are further articles worth reading on this subject:

“A colleague who specializes in modern history remarked to me on Sunday that the deal signed with Iran is not comparable to the disgrace signed in Munich in 1938. In this historian’s eyes, the appropriate comparison is the West’s silence in the face of Hitler’s invasion of the Rhineland in1936….”  Dan Margalit

In exchange for superficial concessions, Iran achieved three critical breakthroughs. First, it bought time to continue all aspects of its nuclear-weapons program the agreement does not cover (centrifuge manufacturing and testing; weaponization research and fabrication; and its entire ballistic missile program)….Second, Iran has gained legitimacy. This central banker of international terrorism and flagrant nuclear proliferator is once again part of the international club…Third, Iran has broken the psychological momentum and effect of the international economic sanctions. While estimates differ on Iran’s precise gain, it is considerable ($7 billion is the lowest estimate), and presages much more…”Buying time for its own sake makes sense in some negotiating contexts, but the sub silentio objective here was to jerry-rig yet another argument to wield against Israel and its fateful decision whether or not to strike Iran. Obama, fearing that strike more than an Iranian nuclear weapon, clearly needed greater international pressure on Jerusalem. And Jerusalem fully understands that Israel was the real target of the Geneva negotiations.” John Bolton (former USA ambassador to the UN) writing in the Weekly Standard.

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Mike Berger

Ridding ourselves of the ANC albatross

Mike Berger on what needs to be done to break our descent towards social breakdown

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Mike Berger on what needs to be done to break our descent towards social breakdown

 

Urgently required – New Management

 

It is possible to study Man as one would study any other species. As pointed out by Suzana Herculano-Houzel in ‘The Human Advantage’, our brains are straight primate in basic biology but much bigger – thanks largely to bipedality and cooking, plus a bit of luck here and there. Given that basic equipment, plenty of time and, again, the agency of chance, we find ourselves in our present predicament: masters of all we survey but not of ourselves.

Rather than further self-laceration with the latest atrocity or stupidity it may help to take a step back and examine our species and the world it has created in the same way we would scrutinise ants, alligators and Aberrant Bush Warblers (look it up). For that we can start with the tools of the scientist: detachment, logic, empirical evidence and the flashes of intuitive insight without which we would not be human.

Take Peter Turchin, for example, on predicting cycles of instability. Turchin first came to prominence as one of a new breed of historian willing to use the tools of science to look at collective human behaviour. This is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the new field of Cliodynamics has already yielded some provocative and fruitful hypotheses.

Using historical data on episodes of instability Turchin and colleagues have identified two cyclical oscillations in levels of political instability with differing periodicities: the more prominent ‘Secular Cycles’ with periods of about two to three centuries and a lesser, so-called ‘Fathers and Sons’ cycle of approximately 50 years.

To understand the major Secular Cycles, he based his analysis on the structural-demographic approach of Goldstone which Turchin summarises as follows

The theory represents complex human societies as systems with three main compartments (the general population, the elites, and the state) interacting with each other and with socio-political instability via a web of nonlinear feedbacks’

The periodic crises Turchin describes depend upon cyclical systemic structural factors which precede the relatively unpredictable precipitating events which attract media and public attention. The systemic factors in turn are located in the first 3 components (the general population, the elites and the State) but ongoing political instability is an essential element in the overall feedback system.

From studies on various agrarian and early modern societies around the world, the fundamental instability drivers underlying the major secular oscillations relate to the demographic dynamics of labour availability (relative to the number of jobs) and its reciprocal relationship to wages. Excess labour leads to falling wages, poverty and high levels of economic inequality since elites are relatively protected from such fluctuations. Together these constitute the substrate for instability.

There is no reason to suppose that the periodicities observed in Turchin’s work are set in stone. The world faces many changes, some potentially massive. These range from climate change and nuclear war to the effects of computerisation and automation on employment (see ‘The Lights in the Tunnel’ by Martin Ford) and the free market system to global conflict facilitated by the spread of social media and the proliferation of radical ideologies. In some senses every society is unique as well as being part of the whole.

Many of these new threats are the product of largely Western cultural-political evolution and its subsequent techno-economic success story. This provided the time, physical and intellectual resources for an on-going explosion of innovation in science, technology – and also for new ideologies hatched in the sheltered groves of academe – which have impacted the less developed world in ways both good and bad.

For instance, Western health and agricultural know-how has increased life spans and decreased infant mortality, and, in an ironic twist, has also lit the fuse of vast population explosions in less developed societies. Likewise, cultural diffusion has stimulated an appetite for Western material consumption in regions which have not developed the skills and cultural institutions to support such tastes.

Coupled with histories of conflict and exploitation and absent the evolved democratic culture and praxis of established democracies, many regions within the non-Western world have been unable to manage internal and external conflicts and some have become incubators for radical and violent doctrines.

But, even within Western societies like the USA, new ideas hatched in the fertile imaginations of academe, are agitating tribal loyalties and threatening social cohesion. Coupled with wage stagnation, increased intra-elite competition and the ‘migrant threat’ we can see the effects in heightened political polarisation and unease across the entire globe.

With that in hand, it is apparent that South Africa is a special case of a more general phenomenon. There is little question that the fundamental destabilising dynamic within South Africa relates to our massive levels of economic inequality, economic stagnation and pervasive corruption leading to feelings of hopelessness and cynicism on the part of the general population and feeding factionalism within the governing elite.

While global trends and Apartheid have both contributed to our own situation, a powerful factor in our predicament is the disastrous turn initiated by Mbeki and consolidated by Zuma, resulting in the patrimonial, corrupt state which we currently inhabit. Predictably, this is generating high levels of social violence linked to low levels of inter-personal and between-group trust, accompanied by vicious factional conflict within the ruling alliance and against outside competitors (like the EFF and various Fallist movements) for the diminishing spoils.

Such trends are deliberately amplified and sustained by a narrative of white exploitation and threat encapsulated in such constructs as “white monopoly capital” and “whiteness”; the latter being an inherited socio-political disorder which comes along with a white skin. When combined with historic ethno-racial faultlines we are trapped in a spiral which threatens our fundamental democratic institutions.

It is interesting and useful to consider the various scenarios to which the current spiral of corruption, factionalism and socio-economic deterioration may lead, and plan accordingly. But to remain with the original hope of the majority of South Africans for a non-racial, democratic, South Africa committed to human rights and transformation, we need to ask what essential step is needed to break our descent towards social breakdown?

In my view an essential pre-condition to serious reform is to rid ourselves of the ANC albatross. But we must first divest ourselves of certain red herrings which serve only to dilute our attention.

Firstly, that there are ‘good people’ within the ANC Alliance (AA) and that if the Zuma cabal was replaced with one of these South Africa could seriously tackle its national problems. However, it has become quite clear that whatever potential for contributing to the broad national good may once have resided in the AA, it exists no longer. The unambiguous turn was taken by Mbeki with his denunciations of allegedly ingrained white racism and his avid adoption of a heavily mythologized black African history and identity. If anyone living through that era needs further validation, see Dene Smuts ‘Patriots and Parasites’.

The immediate and catastrophic consequences of Mbeki’s re-racialised narrative were hundreds of thousands of black deaths from AIDS and, arguably, the collapse of the fragile Zimbabwe experiment into the unspeakable Mugabe tyranny – adding many more lives lost or blighted to the continent’s long list. If any doubt still existed, it has been dispelled by the history of the Zuma term to date in which the full effects of a corrupt, racialised ideology have manifested themselves in a kaleidoscope of social and economic ills.

This diagnosis is backed by international surveys (and here), and is reflected in the violence in our townships, in our homes on our roads, in our Universities and in the rise of the EFF and the incoherent and anarchic Fallist movement. The seat of power is now heavily defended by a dominant corrupt faction concerned almost exclusively with power and its perks, with little interest and time to devote to the national good.

Thus, hopes pinned on Gordhan and Ramaphosa are misplaced. The rot has long permeated the entire AA and whatever good intentions new leadership may possess will founder on the embedded culture of corrupt factionalism within the ANC and its partners.

The second red herring is the assertion that the ANC is set to dominate the political scene for the foreseeable future so that, for good or for ill, we must pin our hopes on reform within that party. This may well turn out to be the case but the disillusionment of the black population is deep and real. Nor does the racial rhetoric of the factions competing for space at the public trough find a consistent answering echo in the wider population, whether white or black.

No doubt considerable effort will be expended on creating the perception of intractable white racism and the occasional bigot or intellectually disorientated academic, with the eager assistance of elements in the media, will be happy to oblige. But this outcome is not assured and the high ground of racial inclusivity is there to be articulated, convincingly and consistently.

The corollary to the thesis that we can only escape a slow or rapid spiral into political decay and mass immiseration, is that the ANC must be replaced with something diametrically different. This excludes the EFF or old-left relics like the SACP, or various clones and combinations of these entities.

We need a party which forcefully and consistently represents the inclusive, democratic South Africa which the majority of South Africans would undoubtedly choose given freedom from political manipulation and pressure. The legal option is a holding tactic. At root our fundamental problems are political and the solution must be political. This leaves only the DA with the necessary public profile, ideological substructure, experience and skill set to step into this role.

Time is limited and the next few years may well be crucial in setting our trajectory for decades if not longer. The DA will need to articulate and embody not only good and honest governance but an inspiring vision for a different South Africa. It must tackle head-on, and unapologetically, the racial strategy of its opponents and must dump traditional liberal dogma for a more flexible economic model which will prioritise redress while retaining the idea of an adaptable culture rooted in a skilled population, political freedom and law.

It will need to listen to its critics but not be confused by noise from special interests, insatiable ideologues, malcontents and political opportunists. There will be no short road to recovery. Our problems are too vast and intertwined and entangled with global trends to disappear with a change of government. But we can alter direction. We can create a new Zeitgeist based on realism and hope.

Failure will almost certainly condemn this country and maybe large parts of sub-Saharan Africa to an uncertain and painful future. But even if one doesn’t fully buy into the full doomsday scenario, why should South Africa accept the chronic misery, blighting of lives and uncertainty implicit in the current dispensation?

Turchin put it this way “Our society (the USA), like all previous complex societies, is on a rollercoaster. Impersonal social forces bring us to the top; then comes the inevitable plunge. But the descent is not inevitable. Ours is the first society that can perceive how those forces operate, even if dimly. This means that we can avoid the worst — perhaps by switching to a less harrowing track, perhaps by redesigning the rollercoaster altogether.

Our rollercoaster is reasonably well-designed but we desperately require new management.

·        

  • Retired professor Mike Berger lives in Cape Town and, says Mike, he is committed to the survival and safety of Israel in whatever form it and its citizens decide freely for themselves.”

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE: All 17 references to Mike Berger on JR Online

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Mike Berger

Of universities and other things…

Things fall apart: Time for the centre to hold

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Blogger Mike Berger, who also blogs on Times of Israel and is widely published in SA, had the headline Opinion piece on the well-read Politicsweb.co.za this morning.


Berger says Max Price & Co. have bought into the Pandora’s box of grievances, only to find that these are infinite



Things fall apart: Time for the centre to hold

Blogger Mike Berger, who also blogs on Times of Israel and is widely published in SA, had the headline Opinion piece on the well-read Politicsweb.co.za this morning. Mike Berger says Max Price & Co. have bought into the Pandora’s box of grievances, only to find that these are infinite




“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity…” (WB Yeats)

 

No, the biggest problem facing South African Universities is not decolonisation – or transformation or racism or sexism or genderism – or even University “arrogance”.

Berger Mike1


Left: Mike Berger


The key existential challenge confronting our Universities and the country as a whole is holding the centre. It is maintaining the norms, processes and institutions which make possible the realisation of the dream of the struggle veterans that one day South Africa, under a fully democratic government, will be capable of delivering the social and economic goals of the majority of our population.

It is the simple question “who rules? The mob, the latest warlord or the democratic State, under the rule of law as implemented by its appointed officials and its institutions?

Most South Africans who have managed to remain relatively uncontaminated by the flood of fashionable ideologies understand that. Yes, within their ranks there are some stupid or repellent racists. Yes, there are degree of arrogance and complacency amongst many whites. But the majority, possibly the vast majority, are open to the new demands and challenges entailed by a full, non-racial democracy which was the foundation on which the new South Africa was founded.

Berger3But Dr Price and many of our commenteriat have lost the plot entirely. They have bought into the Pandora’s box of grievances and demands of the demagogues and, to their astonishment and horror, they find that it is infinite. They cannot keep up with the populist meme-machine which spews out new issues always one step ahead of their confused reactions.

This challenge is not peculiar to South Africa or to Africa; it is universal: how to regulate productively the restless, tribal nature of the human species in such a way to deliver the fruits of cooperation. How to beat the logic of the Prisoner’s Dilemma in order to derive the greatest good for the greatest number

Yeats, a poet, not a political theorist, understood that intuitively. The lines opening this article were written in 1919 following the devastation wreaked on Europe by the “war to end all wars”. Yeats was a part of the “Protestant, Anglo-Irish minority that had controlled the economic, political, social, and cultural life of Ireland since at least the end of the 17th century”. In short, he was part of ruling class who established the norms and the institutions which regulated Irish society for at least 100 years.

Europe itself at the time consisted of separate states at different stages of political development with disputed borders, different histories and cultures, all compounded by the devastation caused by WW1 and the sharp economic downturn of the late 1920s. Not surprisingly, it became an incubator for radical and totalitarian ideologies which set the stage for the next devastating global conflict, WW2.

But the major totalitarian ideologies of the early-mid 20th century were defeated and out of the cauldron emerged a pluralistic, universalist, free-market, human right-based democratic order which was so successful that it appeared to some to be the only game in town.

Berger2It delivered huge advantages. Innovation, health and wealth increased exponentially. The domain of security and cooperation widened dramatically making humanity the most social of all species, surpassing even the special case of the social insects according to Peter Turchin. The earth became flatter and smaller and the Western model of democracy seemed king amongst pygmies. A democratic peace reigned over Western Europe, Scandinavia, Great Britain and its erstwhile colonies, including the USA.

But no sooner had optimism become reasonably acceptable, ominous clouds appeared over the horizon. They came in various shapes and sizes. Climate change and the general havoc caused by irresponsible industrialisation and over-population soon assumed truly frightening dimensions.

And there were many others: Jihadism, tyrannical and failed states, pockets of dire poverty even in some relatively wealthy countries, greedy, corrupt and incompetent governance, resource depletion, great power rivalry…and so on. The consequences have been drastic. Armed conflicts costing millions of lives lost or blighted, and threatening the stability of the rest of the world.

Berger 1Even more worrying is the sight of stable, confident democracies reeling under the onslaught of external challenge coupled with serious weaknesses inherent in large-scale democratic societies. The source and nature of these fault-lines are still not understood by what I call, with malicious intent,  “the chattering classes”, but we need to consider them seriously 

I will consider three major, interlocked factors:  the media, the innate tribalism of the human species along with a vast repertoire of emotional-cognitive biases.

Modern communications technology (which we’ll call “the media”) has fundamentally changed our world in ways which we are a long way from fully understanding. One obvious effect is to covert the world into a facsimile of a global village; “facsimile”, rather than the real thing, because we don’t share common fates, cultures or histories. And “facsimile” also because all the raw information, good and bad, has been processed by a host of other minds with their own perceptions, biases, constraints and agendas.

Thus the information we get is not even second- or third-hand and, more often than not, has been deliberately and cleverly shaped to control our perceptions and opinions. Given the fact that all humans are especially attentive to threat, conflict and bad news, this constitutes the bulk of what the media conveys.

We do not yet fully understand the impact this has on our psyches but it is reasonable to infer that a constant stream of bad news and conflict increases the collective stress and anxiety levels even of distant populations and promotes polarisation and “tribalism” within society.

For example, the generally safe and secure United States of America is manifesting record degrees of polarisation between fluctuating alliances along ethnic, gender or ideological lines which spills over into actual physical confrontation in the form of riots and violent protests – or deliberate murders. Mostly it takes the form of ideological mobbing as we have seen in the latest election.

I hold no brief for Trump, who as an ultra-predator cannot complain when he becomes the prey, but the behaviour of the mainstream media has been a travesty of ethical journalism.

Such internecine tribalism makes it difficult for the USA, and the West more broadly, to respond rationally and coherently to external challenges, such as Islamism and regional anarchy with  the attendant mass flight of resident populations – along with embedded warriors – into the West. This process remains to be played out and the next 100 years will be “interesting”. The same applies to other existential challenges as the global climate and environmental changes.

If even stable democracies are shaken by these human and technological realities, the same applies in spades to precarious developing (aspiring?) democracies like South Africa. Tribalism here has deep roots. Our democracy is new and our surrounding models are bad. Nor is our own history much help. The mythology of violent protest as the essential ingredient to political liberation and power is now becoming increasingly written into our cultural DNA.

On top of that we are the receptacle for the most radical (and often impracticable) ideas of the ever-inventive Western Left. In our fragile context with our immense population bulge of unskilled, angry youth, such slogans are the petrol on the bonfire. Even more disturbing is the facile surrender of much of the South African intellectual centre to the same narratives of the Western Left agitating the fantasies of the youth. As a consequence, our Universities and “chattering classes” have virtually handed moral authority and even temporal power to mob rule. 

No help can be expected from our government which is in an even worse state of moral and operational disintegration. Institutions other than government-based entities are holding up quite well and the broad population has remained relatively resistant to the lures of violent demagoguery. But it is highly precarious.

It is now time for the Universities to enforce, by whatever legal means necessary, the rule of law and the norms of tertiary educational institutions worth the name. It is not only the future of higher education at stake, important though that is. It is the stability of the country. The kind of violent mob politics we are seeing, is the classic excuse for draconian and anti-democratic measures by illegitimate and weak governments.

Before we become trapped between a Mugabe-like dictatorship or the African version of the Arab Spring, can we please have our Universities show the clarity and leadership that we expect from those placed in positions of power.

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Mike Berger

Christian-Jewish Solidarity

Open letter to DIRCO minister from the “Africa for Israel Christian Coalition“

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I have great pleasure bringing you an open letter to the South African Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane written by the “Africa for Israel Christian Coalition“. Without theatrics, it declares in clear and straightforward words the unequivocal support for the State of Israel from a significant section of the African Christian community. For this we are deeply grateful.

Israel, like South Africa, faces the challenge of ethnic communities divided by conflict and differing histories and perspectives. But unlike South Africa it has been the target of relentless hostility from its neighbours and a less than sympathetic Western media. Both countries could learn from one another. I have no doubt that South Africa could play a productive role in bringing Palestinians and Israelis closer to a mutual accommodation. But that would require a stance of neutrality and a desire to understand the histories, motivations and concerns of Israelis as well as the Palestinians.

Unfortunately they have adopted a one-sided partisanship which will serve neither South Africa nor the antagonists in the Middle East well . The unambiguous support for Israel demonstrated by the Africa for Israel Christian Coalition will I hope convey to our Government, that a substantial segment of their community does not share their position. Here is the letter:

Minister, it is becoming very clear that the International Relations Department’s position towards the Israeli/Palestinian conflict does not in fact represent the view of the majority 80% Christian population of South Africa. We have witnessed, with growing alarm, the systematic and deliberate escalation of anti-Israel rhetoric from your department particularly since the beginning of 2012. This was done with the apparent hope that the gradual shift would go undetected by the South African public. It has not. Christian support for Israel in South Africa is represented by a fast growing body of believers but it would appear that your department’s foreign policy position is reflective of a select few, lacking in balance and inherently anti-Semitic.

With regards to your comments concerning the map of West Bank, referred to in Biblical terms as Judea and Samaria, you may wish to consider that: No other nation has ever been forced to accept or would ever accept the arbitrary carving up of their ancestral land in the manner the Jewish people have been subjected to. It is a historical fact that the Jewish people were dispossessed of their ancestral land by the Roman Empire. Even if you are not a Christian or find the Bible an inconvenient reference point, there is ample proof of Jewish title to the Holy Land in various authoritative historical and archaeological sources. Democratic South Africa enacted the Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994 to redress the dispossession of indigenous people yet, ironically, alleviating a similar plight of the Jewish people is termed apartheid.

What is particularly worrying, Minister, is that both Fatah and Hamas do not seem to share your preferred two-state solution to their conflict:

– On November 9, 2013 Palestinian Authority TV showed Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen delivering a speech on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas saying “All our holy places are still under occupation, and so far we have not liberated one inch of Palestinian land. All Palestinian land is occupied – Gaza is occupied, the West Bank is occupied, the 1948 lands (i.e. Israel) are occupied and Jerusalem is occupied.”

– In December 2012, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal made a very clear public address where he declared that “Palestine from the river (Jordan) to the sea (Mediterranean), from the north to the south (all Israel), is our land and we will never give up one inch or any part of it”. He went on to say “Palestine was, still is and will always be Arab and Islamic” and that “Palestine belongs to us and to
no one else. We can never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Palestine belongs to us, and not to the Zionists.” He further stated that a real state will be the product of liberation and not negotiation! This position is consistent with the Hamas Charter which precludes even negotiating with Israel.

The emerging official position and statements of both Palestinian parties have many aspects that are provocative towards the majority of South African Christians:

– They constitute an insult to our faith – The new Hamas textbooks characterize the Torah (Genesis to Deuteronomy) as a mere fabrication;

– They include falsification of history – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: They (Israelis) claim that 2000 years ago they had a temple. I challenge the assertion that this is so, that there has ever been a Jewish Temple.”

– They include blaspheming against the Christian faith – The Palestinian Authority Daily declared in November 2012 that: “Jesus is a Palestinian; the self-sacrificing Yasser Arafat is a Palestinian; Mahmoud Abbas, the messenger of peace on earth, is a Palestinian. How great is this nation of the holy Trinity!”

– Worse still – A young girl appeared on Palestinian Authority TV on July 3, 2013 reciting a poem which included these words: “Oh Sons of Zion, oh most evil among creations. Oh barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs.”

– Finally, Hamas TV often plays songs praying for the extermination of Christians and Jews or inciting for the conquering of other nations in an apparent attempt to save: “humanity from the Fire (of Hell), of which they are on the brink.”

Our silence thus far should not be construed as acquiescing to this vilification of Israel. Certain civil society groups have predictably pounced at this opportunity and in an effort of creating some semblance of credibility to this process, have involved certain segments of the Church who
represent the outdated understanding that the Church has replaced Israel in the promises of God or have introduced a Gospel that describes Jesus and his early followers as “Palestinians” and not Jews as recorded in Scripture. These double substitutions are not mainstream and in fact offensive to most Christians. They also undermine the very concept that God is a covenant-keeping God.

Our fate as Christians and Jews is intertwined. We share a love of the same God and an unwavering faith in the Holy Scriptures. Thus we simply cannot and will not abandon our Jewish brothers and sisters no matter what the cost.

Therefore, motivated by our faith and love for Africa, intent on making our strong feelings known on this issue, we have joined hands as Christians across Africa and launched a Christian Coalition with the primary purpose of declaring our support for Israel and ensuring that there is a balanced perspective of this narrative in our African countries. Our bond of unity in faith transcends colour,
denomination and national boundaries in Africa.”

Kol Hakavod to the Africa for Israel Christian Coalition!

Posted on November 13, 2013

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