South Africa


Why Oscar van Heerden insults South Africa’s intelligence

Why Oscar van Heerden insults South Africa’s intelligence

Oscar van Heerden’s opinion article, “We all owe the Palestinians our support in word and deed”, (Daily Maverick, January 24, 2019). Van Heerden isn’t the first openly anti-Semitic commentator to crucify Israel unabashedly as the nation-state of the Jewish people. However, he provides an astonishing display of academic ignorance of the Middle East, and Palestinian and Israeli society, politics, and security with monstrous disfigurations of fact. By Dan Diker, Rolene Marks and David E. Kaplan.

Far from offering a professional assessment or even the ruminations of an amateur activist untrained in the complexities of the Palestinian Israeli conflict, Van Heerden issues a clarion call for the annihilation of the Jewish peoples’ “apartheid” nation-state and recommends that Iranian terror proxies Hezbollah and Hamas assist in carrying out the mission.

This lethal combination of malice of forethought and deep unfamiliarity with the subject matter insults the intelligence of the many South African leaders, scholars and business people who have visited Israel as well as virtually each of the east and west African nations whose presidents and prime ministers have sought out the Jewish state to assist them in vital areas such as counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, water desalination, agriculture, food and waste technology, for starters.

Perhaps of greatest concern, Van Heerden’s J’accuse of Israel-apartheid disfigures former South African apartheid beyond recognition while delegitimising and dishonouring those heroic South Africans who suffered under the former malevolent regime.

One does not need to be a scholar of international relations of the Near East and North Africa to see Van Heerden’s blindness. One only needs to open one’s eyes to witness the destruction of the Middle East’s Arab states at the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its IRGC and Quds force operatives, and particularly its Hezbollah terror proxy which Van Heerden invokes to destroy Israel in order to “make it a fairer contest”.

The Iranian regime has imposed military control and terror group subversion of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, having flooded these countries with tens of thousands of IRGC and other terror operatives and billions of dollars to achieve their Islamist imperialist goal of “exporting the Shi’ite Islamic revolution to achieve hegemony over the Middle East”. This does not seem to interest this “scholar of international relations”: However, it does deeply concern the region’s Arab, Kurdish, Druze, Christian, Circassian and Turkoman leaders who seek Israel’s military assistance.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told his Shura Council in November 2018:

The Iranian regime has always intervened in the internal affairs of other countries, sponsored terrorism, created chaos and devastation in many countries in the region.”

Today, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and other Gulf Co-operation Council states are working closely with Israel to stop the Iranian regime’s terror and subversion across the Middle East. Why does Van Heerden ignore this most basic context?

Aside from vowing to destroy Arab Sunni majority states, since 1979 the Iranian regime has declared its intention to destroy Israel – the nation-state of the Jewish people. Israel is surrounded by Iranian financed, weaponised, and supplied terror forces in Syria and Lebanon as well as in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Van Heerden, an apparent supporter of the Iranian regime’s designs to slaughter Israel, would have been better served by exhibiting basic knowledge of Iranian-backed Hamas’s control of Gaza in order to present his case against Israel’s self-defence opposite a Hamas military and political campaign to assault Israel’s civilian population, incinerate its agricultural fields, and bomb its infrastructure.

But instead of accessing open-source material on Hamas’s tyrannical imposition of Sharia law in Gaza, and its murder, extortion and torture of political opponents, as well as Christians and other minorities, Van Heerden resorts to misleading statements, such as:

For Gazans, the 11-year Israeli and Egyptian blockade by land, air, and sea has created the largest open-air prison in the world”. Hamas is the prison warden.

In fact, Van Heerden should have known that despite Hamas’s constant assaults against southern and central Israel, Israel still has proposed a Gaza airport and seaport to help Gazan’s 1.75 million people. Moreover, Israel is the only state power to send Gaza massive humanitarian aid monthly, while the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, at war with its Hamas opponents, has cut electricity, water and other vital services to Gaza’s public to punish its Islamist adversaries.

It would be a waste of the reader’s valuable time to pick apart Van Heerden’s inaccurate use of the ANC’s four-point plan as a model for how to destroy Israel. To compare Israel to apartheid South Africa makes a mockery of the ANC members and other SA leaders who visit Israel and can confirm Van Heerden’s gross misrepresentations.

The absurd comparison between apartheid South Africa and legally enshrined free and democratic Israel also denigrates the South African business and civil society delegations that regularly visit Israel to access its expertise across all critical categories as noted above, including counter-terrorism, security and defence, cyber technology, public health care and water purification.

Van Heerden needs to ask himself how his gross distortions of facts and blood libel narrative play to the tens of millions of Christian South Africans who embrace Israel, and pray to the “Gd of Israel”?

How does Van Heerden explain his wholesale assault on the existence of the “apartheid “ Jewish state to virtually every head of government on the African continent who met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Africa in the past 24 months while many visited Israel?

What will Van Heerden tell Chad’s President Idriss Debby, a Muslim, who recently welcomed Netanyahu in Chad after visiting Israel for almost a week in December 2018 and has just established full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state?

Perhaps the proudly anti-Semitic Islamist terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas are Van Heerden’s best allies after all. DM

Dan Diker, Rolene Marks and Dave Kaplan are founding members of the South Africa-Israel Policy Forum.


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