“There is a fake sense of normalcy on the side of Israel that the Palestinian people need to, and are trying to break.” This is at least according to Amira Hass, an award winning Israeli journalist and ‘leftist’ who is currently in South Africa on a tour hosted by the Afro-Middle East Centre.
The daughter of two holocaust survivors, Hass is famed for her columns in the daily Israeli publication Haaretz, where her opinion pieces differ from the norm as far Israeli rhetoric and thinking go in relation to the Palestinian issue. Hass’ views, seen as ‘radical’ from an Israeli viewpoint, are fuelled by the fact that she has spent time living amongst Palestinian’s in the occupied territories, notably reporting from the Gaza Strip. This was mainly fuelled by a desire to feel the occupation through the eyes of the Palestinians.
“This was the first motivation for me to go and live in Gaza when there was still Israeli direct occupation, and when there was still night curfews every night. I wanted to know what it felt like to get out of your house and to see an Israeli soldier pointing a gun at you, without knowing who it is,” she explained.
Hass’ views have to no surprise drawn strong criticism and ‘hate-mail’ from Israelis. Her presence in the occupied territories also attracted in equal part’s confusion and hostility among soldiers she encountered.
The current escalation of violence in the region has been described as akin to a ‘Third Intifada’, the powder keg of which has been increased Israeli infringements on the Masjid al-Aqsa compound. Hass said such visits were frequent before Jewish holy days in Israel, but current developments were seeing more ‘radicalised’ groups making the trip. This has in turn triggered the current wave of violence.
“Recently you have an escalation of Jewish fundamentalist groups that advocate for the reconstruction of the Third Temple. They propagate these visits and they have kind of adopted these visits. You also have an Israeli minister who has already announced that the Third Temple has to be build there,” she stated, referencing comments made by Israel’s minister of Housing and Construction, Uri Ariel.
Hass also dubbed the current generation of Palestinian resisters as ‘the lost generation of Oslo’, in reference to the infamous Oslo Accords that had initially promised to bring about greater peace in the Middle East, as well as self-determination for the Palestinian people. Most curious about this new generation is that most are acting unaffiliated to any Palestinian political front.
“This shows the great disappointment they feel about all of them (political parties). This is unlike the First Intifada when it was immediately along political lines, and behind the PLO…Now there is no leadership that gives this uprising a political platform,” she noted.
The famed journalist’s visit to South Africa coincides with that of a delegation of Hamas members, being hosted in the country by the ruling ANC. Despite her less than favourable relationship with Hamas; forced to flee the Gaza Strip after alleged threats to her life after criticising the group, Hass called for an end to the “stupid boycott” imposed by global leaders on Hamas after its successful election victory in 2006.
“If the world accepted the free decision of the Palestinian people which voted them in for different reasons, the Palestinians wouldn’t have felt so betrayed and Hamas would have had the opportunity to show whether it could or could not perform,” she said.
In the same vein, Hass questioned the ANC’s decision to host Hamas; the ruling party has a long and deep-rooted relationship with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). She questioned whether this was a signal of the party giving up on the PLO in favour of Hamas as being the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)