Defend Truth


Palestine and Israel: Peace can only reign where there is justice


Zukiswa Pikoli is Daily Maverick's Managing Editor for Gauteng news and Maverick Citizen where she was previously a journalist and founding member of the civil society focused platform. Prior to this she worked in civil society as a communications and advocacy officer and has also worked in the publishing industry as an online editor.

In times of war civilians bear the disproportionate brunt of the resultant violence. It therefore becomes important to robustly seek solutions towards peace, and the reality is that there can be no peace where there is an absence of justice, and justice requires truth.

My inaugural column in 2021 was about the seemingly unending Palestinian and Israeli conflict, and so I felt it only fitting that this one is about the same topic, in light of the humanitarian crisis and rising body count – into the thousands – we have all been reading about and watching over the past few days.

When devastation, trauma and loss are so immense, words are sometimes difficult to wrestle from our consciousness, but in honour of those who have paid the ultimate price for the war in the Middle East, it is necessary to find these words.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there were at least 300,000 displaced Palestinians in Gaza as a result of Israel’s retaliation after Hamas’s attack.

The attack is not unexpected, given the dehumanising conditions Palestinians have been enduring for years. In an interview with Al Jazeera earlier this year, well-known academic, philosopher and author Noam Chomsky said: “I’ve been in Gaza … in between some of the Israeli attacks. It’s a … disgraceful crime… Over two million people basically imprisoned. No potable water to drink, the energy system, [sewerage] systems destroyed by Israeli violenc e… Nobody even talks about it anymore.”

Chomsky’s observations reflect how the struggle of Palestinians has been made invisible by the world. And when Hamas retaliated, whether legitimately or not, only then did the world pay attention. But the attention, aid, relief efforts and sympathies have been largely directed at Israel, based on a singular event as opposed to the systematic violence faced by Palestinians.

In response to the conflict, the UN has issued public statements that the targeting of civilians is against humanitarian law. Its secretary-general, António Guterres, has condemned Hamas’s attack on civilians and equally condemned Israel’s complete siege of the already embattled Gaza Strip.

“This most recent violence does not come in a vacuum. The reality is that it grows out of a long-standing conflict, with a 56-year-long occupation and no political end in sight,” Guterres said.

It cannot be gainsaid that in times of war civilians bear the disproportionate brunt of the resultant violence. It therefore becomes important to robustly seek solutions towards peace, and the reality is that there can be no peace where there is an absence of justice, and justice requires truth.

Nuremberg trials chief prosecutor Benjamin B Ferencz said it best: “There can be no peace without justice, no justice without law and no meaningful law without a court to decide what is just and lawful under any given circumstance.”

The court he speaks of could be the International Criminal Court, an autonomous judicial body that could be of great aid.

However, its limitations are that it only has authority over countries that are signatories to the Rome Statute, which Israel is not but Palestine is.

The question is, by whom then shall the two states be held accountable? And how will a just and lawful path to lasting peace be realistically attained? DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

DM168 front page 14 October


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    It’s easy to comment from the sidelines but there is history there that we are not qualified to comment on. Also supporters of either side will always cherry pick the narrative that suits them.

    The only truth is that until people learn that working together is the only way tragedies like this will continue.

    Our racist South African society should learn this overtly obvious truth.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      When did our SA society become ‘racist’ ? Can I assume that is was since it held its first ‘democratic’ elections ? Interesting …. given your apparent attempt to sketch a ‘background’ to the dilemma facing various ‘conflicts’ ! Ricky rocks … viva !

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      The reason Israel is not an ICC member is because its parent (the US) … unaccountable to anyone but itself, is not a member . Nor will it allow its offspring to join ! Because that would results in them having to be ‘accountable’ to others . That is why when Israel commits ‘atrocities’ … the US hides behind meaningless pseudonyms like expressing ‘concern’ about its behaviour ! Blinkered Blinken has now followed in the path of Blind Biden … in expressing platitudes …which I thought (obviously wrongly!) was the hallmark of the republicans only ! But then understanding US politics (like many other things) is far more complex and contradictory than I thought !

    • Aadila M says:

      Agreed. Working together, using the facts on the ground provided by neutral parties like the UN and Human Rights Watch, is the way to go.

      Really appreciate this well written and comprehensive article. It stands out from the one-sided Western narrative that dehumanises Palestinians and neglects the 70 years of Israeli apartheid that led to the current war.

      It appears DM readers have become used to the biased pro-Zionist narrative and are now feeling uncomfortable.

      Keep defending truth, DM

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    Your quote of Ben Ferencz is fascinating … especially seen against the background that countries like China and Russia also have ‘laws’ and ‘courts’ to adjudicate on matters … but in reality are actually extensions of the ruling party ideology in those countries. Is that not what Netanyahu would like to do with (has already done?) the judiciary in Israel ? Is that not where a nexus of ANC and EFF politics will ultimately take SA also ? I think the Arch and Madiba were fully cognizant of this possibility.

  • rene.goldschagg says:

    Please read “Son of Hamas”, written more than 10 years ago by Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of one of the Hamas founders. There are also various interviews with this young man available on the internet. He explains exactly what Hamas stands for and how little they care about the average Palestinian, how many Arabs live peacefully in Israel, but no Jews in Gaza because they are not allowed. Also, how Israel have supported the Palestinians and how aid from the West is used for weapons. It certainly changed my view!

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    You add nothing new. The simple truth is that Israel was created legally by the UN on a tiny piece of land and the Arab states didn’t like Jews amongst them. Then followed years of failed wars and terrorism from which Israel had to defend itself. In the current context it is worth noting that (1) Israel left Gaza in 2005 so there is no occupation (2) The legal blockade is purely because Hamas took over Gaza and instead of governing with the sufficient funds donated and Israel’s assistance with trade, it diverted all its resources to war (3) The Palestinian Authority has distanced itself from Hamas.
    Therefore in spite of its excuse that it is fighting for the imaginary occupation or the Palestinian people who reject it, it is clear all that is left is Jew Hate, as it has now clearly demonstrated.
    So your article and the acres of comment suggesting that justice and a peaceful settlement would avoid these Hamas wars are misconceived and ignore the Hamas wet dream objective ( which it makes clear on its own writings) to eliminate Israel. If you don’t know what “From the River to the Sea” means, look at the map.

    • Rod H MacLeod says:

      Well written Sydney. Unfortunately Ms Pikoli writes things like “The attack is not unexpected, given the dehumanising conditions Palestinians have been enduring for years” which give her bias away, and on top of that, her ignorance of Palestinian internal politics. She clearly does not understand what it means when Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, duly elected, distances the Authority and peace loving Palestinians from Hamas. She clearly hasn’t read up on anything about Hamas if she attributes their terrorist stance to the entire Palestinian people.

  • Agf Agf says:

    A pathetic biased article trotting out the usual anti Israel pro Palestinian rubbish. The people of Gaza voted Hamas into power. They did so with the full knowledge that their stated aim was the annihilation of Israel and the slaughter of every single Jew. They voted for war. Hamas don’t give a damn for the people of Gaza. They have spent most of the aid funds given to them on weapons and tunnels.

  • Ben Harper says:

    If Palestine stops fighting there will be peace, if Israel stops fighting they will cease to exist

  • Rob Wilson says:

    Perhaps these observations should be seen in the context of our own country? When the ANC took over control South Africa had a solid infrastructure of ports, railways, roads, water supply, power generation, transmission and distribution. Sharing it was by no means equal, but the backbone and skeleton was sound, and there was plenty of money around to extend it. Yet it has been let to waste by a toxic mix of outdated dogma, cadre deployment, greed and wanton theft-all on the ANC’s watch. Would that now justify an armed attack and bombing of the government?

  • F B says:

    Was really happy, for a while, to read another voice, thought that Daily Maverick was independent journalism. Start to see, that they are following the same ideology, as our government. Makes me wonder why the ANC is against the Daily Maverick.

    • Ben Harper says:

      I simply can’t understand why DM employs activists as journalists. One cannot be both an activist and journalist you can only be both, it is inevitable anything written by an activist will be subjective and often devoid of truth and facts so as to fit the chosen agenda.

  • Larry Paz says:

    No doubt that the gaza palestinian population are suffering. Where I believe things get inaccurate is that the perpetrator of all their suffering is always and only Israel. Hamas do not care about their people. that is clear. I challenge you to investigate how the leadership of this people have failed them for the past 70 years. Spend some time investigating the facts. They have rejected every peace deal offered to them without once replying with a counter deal. The leaders do not want peace for their people. They want the whole cake or according to the Hamas charter – they want to rid Israel of Jews. Do your homework and you will see this as clear as daylight. Write a honest article about the motivation of the leadership of this people.

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