OPINION by Iqbal Jassat
As the noose of resistance begins to take a firm grip around the neck of Israel’s apartheid regime, Netanyahu’s bewilderment must not be construed as an expression of ignorance. Equally, displaying shock and anger as his entire cabinet has been doing, is merely putting on a mask of hypocrisy for fellow Israelis and his western allies.
The truth is eloquently captured by prominent Palestinian author and journalist Ramzy Baroud: Palestinian youth are protesting because they experience daily humiliation and endure the unrelenting violence of the Occupation. Israel’s suffocating policies of apartheid, administered ruthlessly by Netanyahu’s racist rightwing coalition, is responsible for the current wave of protests.
Many analysts correctly assert that the present generation of Palestinian youth, many of whom may have been born after the 2000 Intifada al-Aqsa, are restless and anxious to have their human rights without delay.
“This generation grew up oppressed, confined and unfree at complete odds with the misleading ‘Peace Process’ lexicon that has prolonged a strange paradox between fantasy and reality” says Baroud.
Strangely, while these protests are intensifying and shaping a new form of resistance, Israel remains adamant to showcase it’s settler colonial project as civilised, tolerant and democratic.
Nothing could be further from the truth, as scathing reports about Israel’s savagery abounds across many capitals of the world. Nothing remains hidden thanks to social media.
Johannesburg in SA is no exception. Yet it has emerged that Israel’s Hasbara (propaganda) exercise is looking for candidates amongst the country’s Traditional leaders, African Traditional Churches and other faith groups to undertake a mission of ‘peace’.
What’s forgotten in the excitement of such free trips, is that the notion of ‘peace’ is expected to transform into solidarity with the aggressor and contempt for the victims. This is the goal and objective of Hasbara and on no account will any mission to Israel be allowed to deviate from it.
As South Africans, many will be familiar with similar campaigns by the erstwhile National party run apartheid government. Much is known today of huge secret budgets and elaborate PR campaigns to present apartheid as normal and those opposed to it as barbarians, uncivilised and communist-allied terrorists.
Normalising the abnormal. This in short is what Israel’s Hasbara project is about. Deception is its modus operandi. Dishonesty is par for the course. And discrediting the Palestinian freedom struggle is its bottom line.
Vast amounts of money is being spent to use Hasbara-riders in clandestine efforts to neutralise and discredit South Africa’s solidarity activists. Thus far that they’ve failed to line up credible and principled pro-Palestinian activists to have photo opportunities with baby killers such as Netanyahu, doesn’t mean that Israel’s South African lobbyists have given up.
Isn’t it ironic that South Africa during its apartheid era, hatched elaborate plans to win the hearts and minds of black Americans, while today Israel is targeting black South Africans to improve its image?
And as Ron Nixon in his book dealing with South Africa’s global propaganda war “Selling Apartheid” records, lobbying enjoyed a strong relationship between government and business.
He cites the role of Anglo American Corporation’s Harry Oppenheimer, who set up the South Africa Foundation, which played a prominent role in helping to block international economic sanctions.
“Leaders of the foundation added that its function was ‘imbued with the ideal of presenting South Africa’s case at home and overseas’ by countering outside ‘pressures’ and ‘misunderstandings'”.
As it was back then, Israel’s apartheid regime and its business allies in South Africa, are armed with unlimited financial resources to wage propaganda warfare.
As Amira Hass, one of Israel’s fearless journalists currently in South Africa has stated, Palestinians are fighting for freedom while Israel is fighting for the Occupation.
Hasbara may hoodwink some people willing to turn a blind eye on the extent of humiliation and human suffering, but most South Africans know that apartheid is doomed in Israel.
Iqbal Jassat is an executive member of the Media Review Network, a Johannesburg based advocacy group. Visit www.mediareviewnet.com