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The Jewish Report Editorial

The silence of the “activists”

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There has been a sudden ‘disappearance’ of a number of people in South Africa who are very outspoken about what they believe to be human rights. Their silence is strange.

Some of them are powerful government officials and some hold high positions in influential organisations. They have clout, because they seem to have won over many in our government to their way of thinking.

How does it happen that they have all gone so quiet this week?

It seems the Taliban retaking power in Afghanistan had something to do with it because, if anything, they should be shouting about the prospect of human-rights violations.

You see, these particular people are always the first to make themselves heard when something happens in the Middle East, especially when Israel is concerned.

And, as it happens, Israel is always found – in their opinion – to be in the wrong. Israel is always, in their opinion, a human-rights abuser par excellence.

And, although this government takeover has nothing whatsoever to do with Israel, it has everything to do with human-rights abuses. The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001 with an iron fist, prohibiting women or girls from studying or participating in public life. It was brutal and violent, chopping off the hands of people accused of stealing, and stoning people – especially women – to death for adultery. Men were required to have beards, and women forced to wear a burka that covered them from head to toe. Afghans dared not disagree with the Taliban for fear of death.

Under the Taliban, television, music, and cinema was banned.

It was a very dark time for Afghans, particularly women and children.

However, this week, I saw no comment from these local ‘human-rights activists’ about the Taliban taking over Afghanistan. I noticed the void, and was quite worried that something must have happened because these folk always have something to say. They are, after all, the people who supposedly fight for those whose rights have been abused or have the potential to be abused.

And the Taliban’s track record is clear. No matter what its members say, their actions speak louder than words.

However, the very same people who call Israel a brutal killer and abuser haven’t said one word in condemnation of the Taliban takeover of this Middle Eastern country.

While visuals fly round the world of people en masse climbing on top of planes as they desperately try to leave Afghanistan out of sheer terror, our ‘friends’ keep mum about this.

I’m not sure I will ever get over that image of a transport plane taking off with frenzied Afghans clinging to its body, from which they dropped to their deaths.

I’m aware that fingers are pointing at the United States for erroneously pulling out troops from Afghanistan, saying that doing so enabled the Taliban to take control. They are probably right. However, the Taliban has clearly been waiting in the wings to take control and bring about its own form of Sharia law that doesn’t allow for citizens’ human rights to be recognised.

Perhaps our activist ‘friends’ have gone off to help those in need in Afghanistan. Or perhaps they have double standards and believe that only Israel is bad. Perhaps their standards don’t apply to other people mistreating and abusing populations in the Middle East.

Could it be that their focus on Israel as a human-rights abuser has nothing to do with the people who are supposedly being abused, and everything to do with Israel being the Jewish homeland?

How else can one explain their silence about the Taliban taking power in Afghanistan? Silence is a tacit form of acceptance and approval. Surely, if you don’t stand up against something – particularly when it’s your way to do so – it means you approve of it.

Will we soon be seeing massive billboards saying, “End Taliban rule in Afghanistan” or is that large sum of money spent on billboards advertising support for those who oppose Israel earmarked only for the Jewish State?

I find this astonishing, especially because every time we suggest that these activists could be doing their shtik simply because they don’t want the Jewish State to survive, they get angry with our suggestion that they could be antisemitic.

But, help me here, how else do I understand the fact that they don’t say a word in protest of a brutal organisation with a clear track record of the worst kind of human-rights abuses taking over a country in the Middle East? I would love some kind of explanation that detracts from what seems so obvious to me.

I would hate for them to suggest that I’m being unfair or prejudiced by believing that it’s simple antisemitism if they don’t stand up against abuses that are so obvious in the same region covered by their activism.

I wait for them to tell us, once again, that they aren’t antisemitic, and this isn’t about wanting to remove Jews from the Middle East. Forgive me for bastardising Shakespeare in Hamlet, “The ‘activists’ [original is Lady] doth protest too much, methinks!” It seems quite apt under the circumstances.

Perhaps I jumped the gun and the government, the African National Congress, and our activist ‘friends’ will soon come out and say how appalled they are about the Taliban being back in power. Let’s see.

Meanwhile, in another part of the world, Florida in the United States, we hear about the frustration of former South Africans witnessing what happens when people choose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or to follow protocols. In Florida, everyone could have been vaccinated by now, but in the present surge, hospitals are full of seriously ill COVID-19 patients who mostly haven’t had the vaccine.

It’s evidence, once again, that it’s to our benefit to make sure that as many of us are vaccinated as possible. It’s not 100% foolproof, but it’s going to make a huge difference in becoming seriously ill or dying. So, if you are eligible and haven’t already been vaccinated, do it now.

Shabbat Shalom!

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