OPINION by Eddie Cottle
When South African security services prevented a Cape Town girl from boarding a plane allegedly to join ISIS, many South Africans were pleased but at the same time surprised at how swift the reaction of our security services were. How come the same reaction is not applied to South African Zionist Jews serving in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF)?
The swift action of the South African security services was carried out in terms of the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act (RFMA), enacted by the new democratically elected South African government in 1997. The legislation aims to prevent South African companies and citizens from rendering military or military-related services abroad without the Government’s authority — particularly those services which may fall within the ambit of the new style of mercenary activity.
This act states that it is illegal, as a South African, to go into a “conflict zone” and render assistance to any side. As a South African you are thus not allowed to fight for another country in any conflict. This curbing of mercenary and individual activity is surely welcomed by peace loving South Africans everywhere.
But how has it come to pass that not a single South African Zionist Jew has ever been investigated nor prosecuted in terms of transgressing the RFMA? Why is the ANC government so swift in dealing with alleged ISIS supporters and not those of the state of Israel that flagrantly violates international law?
Last year a member of Runners for Palestine opened a case against Dean Goodson for serving in the IDF. The opening of a docket was confirmed by the Western Cape police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut. It is not the first time that such cases have been brought before the relevant authorities.
In 2009, in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance and Media Review Network, approached South Africa’s National Prosecution Authority with a list of some 75 South Africans who allegedly fought in Gaza. In the process these South Africans, as part of the IDF killed, maimed, destroyed and violated several international laws and human rights of Palestinians who live under the brutal colonial occupation of Israel.
Furthermore, according to Al-Jazeera (November 1 2009), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, said he was considering an investigation against Lt-Col David Benjamin, a South African-born IDF officer, for war crimes committed during Cast Lead, as South Africa is a signatory of the court’s 1998 Rome Statute establishing the international court. But bizarrely amongst all these efforts to prosecute South Africans serving in the Israeli military nothing has come of it.
Interestingly, the Jerusalem Post (September 8 2014) reporting on the Goodson case, South Africa’s Defence Department indicated that it has not granted permission to any South African to participate in the current Gaza conflict and was aware that some may be serving in the IDF without clearance.
However, the lack of action on the part of the ANC government both in relation to prosecution of Zionist Jews serving in the IDF and in support of the Boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign have left a deep concern of the moral compass of those in government. There is a growing sentiment amongst the Palestinian solidarity groups and civil society organisations that the ANC is selling out the Palestinian struggle in favour of an elitist agenda of the leadership’s business interests and wealth accumulation.
It must be remembered that during the Gaza massacre and after calls by hundreds of thousands of South Africans for Zuma to cut diplomatic and business relations with Israel, as Latin American countries were doing, he openly announced to a standing ovation at a Washington press conference that there would be no expulsion of its ambassador, Arthur Lenk.
The leading countervailing force in relation to the ANC government’s complicity is said to be Zionist, Ivor Ichikowitz of the Paramount Group the largest private arms dealer in Africa who flew Zuma to a United Nations meeting. A Mail & Guardian probe (March 13 2009) of Ichikowitz’s relations with the ANC and prominent Zuma backers indicates a man who has made it his business to get close to key power-brokers. Ivor Ichikowitz not only flew Mandela to a Zuma elections rally in Transkei, but also flew Zuma in his luxuriously converted Boeing 727 to Lebanon and Kazakhstan for ANC fundraising and business meetings.
Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of the former president, opened doors for Ichikowitz into Africa and Mathews Phosa, shared a number of company directorships with Ichikowitz before his elevation to ANC treasurer. These are just a few known direct business and political links by top ANC leaders to leading Zionists businessmen and Israel supporters. What do we not know about? This reality goes a long way to explaining the ANC leaders pro-Palestinian rhetoric but no concrete action against the Israeli regime, despite all its atrocities against the Palestinians.
With the “incremental genocide” underway in Palestine, according to Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, world action is most urgent. The time has come for the ANC government to prosecute South Africans serving in the Israeli Defence force or has the ANC lost its moral compass completely?
Eddie Cottle writes on behalf of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. This article first appeared on the South African Civil Society Information Service’s website.