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An open letter from 52 Jewish South Africans to local paper, condemning Israel, and excellent letter to the editor in reply

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An open letter from 52 Jewish South Africans to local paper, condemning Israel, and excellent letter to the editor in reply

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 Open Letter to the South Africans of Jewish Descent who condemned the Israeli bombing of Gaza (Cape Times 18 July 2014) 

With respect, allow me to correct the staggering basic errors, omissions and lack of context and balance in your call to the South African government to sever all links with Israel.

1. You mention the blockade without mentioning the reason for it. The lie of the Palestinian assertion that they required basic materials for infrastructure, employment opportunities and basic necessities has been exposed by the massive web of sophisticated underground tunnels built using these “basic commodities” and costing hundreds of millions of dollars. These tunnels have been developed for one reason only- to maim and murder Israeli citizens. The blockade you deplore, was instituted only after Gazans began a reign of terror, solely aimed at slaughtering Israeli civilians in pursuit of the Hamas’ stated aim of eradicating the State of Israel.

2. You omit to mention that the rocket launchers, tunnels, command positions and terrorist cells have by and large been placed in and under heavily populated areas. There can be no doubt of the reasons for this. They are a noxious compound of cowardice, typical of a people who would deliberately murder children in the name of their cause and the barbaric sadism of placing aged women and infants above their hideouts, rockets and tunnels in order to increase the body count in the name of newsworthiness.

3. You mention re-arrests of “political” prisoners. These are in fact convicted murderers and the like. Let me remind you of just 2 examples: Muhammad Agmiyan Jama’a, convicted of the murders of David Cohen, Moshe Beno and Amikam Salzmann, as well as those of 20 Gaza Arabs accused of collaborating with Israel and Majdi Muhammad Ahmed Amr, who shot David Cohen to death in front of his wife and children and in 2002 organized the attack on bus No. 37 in Haifa (17 killed, more than 50 wounded.)

4. Your contention that there is evidence that Israel has targeted civilians is outrageous on multiple levels. Firstly, you make no mention of the fact that almost every one of the hundreds of rockets fired by the Palestinians is aimed at killing civilian Jews. Secondly, you omit to state that under these rehabilitation centers, hospitals, schools, mosques and homes, the Palestinians have willfully stored their rockets, dug their terror tunnels and hidden their fighters. Thirdly you ignore the millions of dollars invested and the sometimes fatal risks our soldiers have taken, in order to warn civilians of impending attacks. Israel distributes leaflets, fires harmless warning salvos, phones the residents (!) before doing what it is forced to do- destroy lethal weapons, while the Hamas orders its constituency to stay put in the event of such warnings. Do you honestly believe that if Israel wanted to target civilians there would only be 400 civilians killed by the 1,000+ sophisticated bombs that have been fired into Gaza?! If your assertion was true, there would have been hundreds of thousands of deaths. On the other hand, if the Palestinians had the capability, they would kill us all- read their manifesto and school books, listen to their speeches.

5. You call us the aggressors! Who fired first? Every single escalation in this shocking cycle of violence has begun with Palestinian aggression.

6. Israel is indeed fighting a disproportionate war. It is between a civilized humane society forced into the terrible position of having to risk killing civilians, in the sake of self defense. We do not apologize for the fact that we have learnt the oh so hard way to defend ourselves. We do not apologize for our strength, just as the British have not apologized for Dresden, nor the Americans for Hiroshima (where they decimated hundreds of thousands of civilians thousands of kilometers from their homes.) And no, we would never Dresden or Hiroshima Gaza. Yes, this is a disproportionate conflict. It is between an imperfect but civilized nation who uses its rockets to defend its children against a barbaric regime who uses its children to defend its rockets. The very mention of disproportion coming from South Africans is especially rich considering your countrymen’s conduct at Marikana on August 16th 2012, just to name one incident.

7. You speak of a population under occupation. This is absurd. Gaza is not occupied land. It is in fact Judenrein. I remind you that this previously flourishing land, with state-of-the-art agricultural and other infrastructures was handed over to the Palestinians, free to create a model, thriving, civil society. And if you think “the occupation” is the reason for all of this, think again. We may agree or disagree on the settlement and occupation issues. But you cannot deny that the PLO, forerunner to Hamas was established years before there was any “occupation.” Arabs have been killing Jews in this part of the world for generations.

8. You say that the scale of our reaction is completely disproportionate. If so how is it that despite the bombardment, the rocket fire goes on unabated. The Gazans know that the minute they stop their rocket attacks, we will stop the bombardment yet they continue to aim at our kindergartens and old-aged homes. Why have they not accepted the cease-fires offered to them?

9. We are not a perfect nation. Amongst us there is a small violent fringe (although perhaps smaller than in South Africa) who we deplore and condemn. Compare our national outcry and the hunting down of the reviled murderers of Muhammed Abu Khder, to the mass regime -organized celebrations in the streets of Gaza city at the abduction and sadistic murder of our three hitchhiking teens. Compare the reaction to each Palestinian death which is met with cries of Itbah Al-Yahud to the funeral of a lone soldier yesterday in Jerusalem where 30,000 Israelis, including Arabs and Druze, stood in silence and sorrow, grieving the loss of one life. We are imperfect. We make mistakes, from the man in the street to the pilots who have to make split-second life and death decisions. We have amongst our nation, cruel people just as every nation does. It is a testament to this country that given the savagery we have been subjected to for so many decades, the level of unsanctioned violent reprisals you mention is so remarkably low. Compared to the nations around us, our human rights record is unparalleled. As I do not read the Cape Times, could you please inform me, how many other nations have you asked your government to sever links with? How about Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, North Korea, Sudan, Burma, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Somalia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan…and indeed, the Gaza regime.

If I did not know better, I may have thought that your disgraceful document was based on ignorance and naivety, but as a Jew who grew up in South Africa I assume that all or most of you are well educated and informed. I would have thought that you are simply self-loathing Jews but the way you define yourselves as “of Jewish descent” is indicative of your separation from the Jewish community. You are simply anti-Semitic.

Richard Shavei-Tzion

Jerusalem 24.7.2014

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