An open letter to the Republic of South Africa’s former Minister of Intelligence (2004-2008), Ronnie Kasrils
From Maurice Ostroff
August 9, 2009
Dear Mr. Kasrils,
As you and I have a common interest in philosopher Bertrand Russell, you may recognize this quote by him. “Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives’ mouths”
The reason I consider this quote appropriate, is my conviction that your renewed, relentless attacks on Israel, are similarly based entirely on misinformation.
Let’s take the epiphany you described in your article “Sixty years after Deir Yassin”, published last year on the anti-Israel website Electronic Intifada. You explained then that your anti-Israel attitude originated when you were “shaken to the core” by horror stories about an alleged massacre of Palestinian villagers at Deir Yassin in 1948.
The incontrovertible fact is that the story was a complete fabrication by Hazem Nusseibeh, editor of Palestine Broadcasting Service’s in 1948, on the direct instructions of the secretary of the Arab High Committee, Hussein Khalidi. Incontrovertible, because during a 1997 BBC TV interview, Nusseibeh himself, admitted that he was instructed by Khalidi to falsify claims of atrocities at Deir Yassin so as to encourage Arab regimes to attack Israel. You can view a video clip of this interview at http://deir-yassin.tripod.com/and if you have any doubts about its authenticity, you can check it out with the BBC.
Nusseibeh, told the BBC that the fabricated atrocity stories about Deir Yassin were “our biggest mistake,” because “Palestinians fled in terror and left the country in huge numbers after hearing the atrocity claims” adding a new facet to research about the reasons so many Arabs fled in 1948.
All the stories about an alleged massacre that were rapidly circulated around the world were based on this fiction.
In your writings you frequently refer to the statement by then Israeli agriculture minister, Aharon Cizling, who said in a cabinet meeting “Jews too have behaved like Nazis and my entire being is shaken”. In the light of this BBC revelation, Cizling’s outburst must be seen as a manifestation of extreme Israeli sensitivity to reports, albeit false, of Jewish misbehavior. He was so deeply moved by the fabricated reports of behavior that is not tolerated in the IDF doctrine, that he used the exaggerated and offensive Nazi comparison.
The unreliability of your information sources is underlined when you quote Ilan Pappe, and it is relevant to point out that when Pappe was a professor at Haifa University, he vigorously defended Teddy Katz, a student whose Master’s thesis was proved in a court of law to contain fabricated evidence of a fictitious massacre of unarmed civilians at a village called Tantura.
The horror stories about Israel, that you refer to, would justify your strong reactions were they factual and I trust that you will accept in good faith some contrary information from a person whose outlook in regard to apartheid is not unlike yours. When you were about five years old, I was already a low-key anti-apartheid activist and member of what was probably the first mass movement of whites promoting the liberation of Blacks, namely the Springbok Legion that was formed during WW2 by South African soldiers who objected to the discriminatory treatment of fellow Black soldiers. Later, as a Wits student, I participated in many anti-apartheid meetings on the Johannesburg City Hall steps where we were attacked by opponents and hounded by the security police. I admired some great personalities who you certainly also knew very well, like the late Jock Isacowitz and the late Wolfie Kodesh. Most of all I was influenced by Chief Albert Luthuli who insisted on peaceful coexistence even after the massacre at Sharpeville. The sad factual difference between the ANC and the PLO or Hamas is that the latter two have lacked leadership of the caliber of Chief Luthuli or Nelson Mandela.
While your empathy for the PLO as fellow freedom fighters is understandable I remind you of some concrete facts that show that the parallels you have drawn, in some of your articles, between the ANC struggle against apartheid and the Palestinian struggle are not quite congruent
Whereas the ANC Charter states “South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation – not war” article 9 of the PLO Charter declares bluntly that the armed struggle is not merely tactical, it is the overall strategy. The Hamas charter makes it even clearer that there is absolutely no room for peaceful negotiation. Article 13 unambiguously states, “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.”
It is difficult to understand your support for the irrationality of the Hamas concept, so different from the sober tone of the ANC Charter, as illustrated by obsessive phobia about freemasons, rotary clubs, Lions and similar organizations, promising that the day Islam is in control, these organizations, will be obliterated.
Nor would the ANC tolerate the incitement to indiscriminate violence against uninvolved civilians, (women, children and invalids alike), which continues in mosques and PA controlled media and is taught in schools from the earliest age.
Mr. Kasrils, what I find most difficult to understand is how your narrow focus on Israel appears to obscure your view of gross crimes in your own backyard that cry out for your attention. In his January article in The Citizen, Andrew Kenny wrote of your support of Robert Mugabe’s tyranny in Zimbabwe. He referred to a radio talk in which you called for pressure on that “murdering regime called Israel” and you suggested that because pressure against apartheid had worked it would work against Israel.
Kenny wrote, that although you tacitly acknowledged that pressuring Mugabe’s regime would help to bring it to an end, you never publicly condemned his tyranny even after he slaughtered around twenty thousand black people in operation Gukurahundi, murdered, mutilated, tortured, beat and gang-raped people who voted against him, wrecked the economy and drove the Zimbabwean people into hunger and despair
I ask the same question Kenny asked. “Why doesn’t Kasrils shout as loudly as possible against Mugabe’s crimes?” and I wonder as he did, why you care about third party reports about the Palestinian people, 8 000km away, but not about the obvious suffering of Africans on your border.
I would appreciate a considered response, which will be distributed in the same manner as this open letter.
Editor’s note: Maurice Ostroff is a founder member of the international Council of Hasbara Volunteers, better known by its acronym CoHaV, (star in Hebrew), a world-wide umbrella organization of volunteers active in combating anti-Israel media and political bias and in promoting the positive side of Israel. His web site is located at: Ostroff
(Photo credit: Radompottins)