On his annual return to the Mother City, the South African ambassador to the United States, Ebrahim Rasool, has spoken out against the escalating Israel-Palestine conflict. He questioned the motives behind Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip and expressed shock that a community still reeling from the atrocities of the Holocaust could commit such collective punishment on the people of Gaza.
According to Rasool, the Jewish population in America were essentially divided on the conflict, separated into groups that took a military right wing approach, those that supported Zionism but were against the ill-treatment of the Palestinian people, and those who outright rejected the concept of Zionism.
“It has confirmed my belief that we must not throw the bad with the good, in how we speak and how we act. We must maintain a clear distinction between being anti-Zionist and being anti-Jew,” he told VOC Drivetime.
Rasool said it was vital to source out those Jewish youth, unable to accept the atrocities being committed in the name of their religion. This was increasingly important in a time where Zionism, was rapidly being viewed as a concept enshrined in the Jewish faith.
He said the occupation was not only dehumanising those who were being occupied, but also the occupiers themselves. He also accused those in support of Zionism, of forgetting every memory, horror, and atrocity of the Holocaust.
“If you can imagine that a global community that has come out of the Holocaust can now do what they are doing, then you can see the extent of how the occupation has dehumanised both the Jews and the Zionists themselves,” he said.
“Hitler believed in collective punishment. He may have encountered one or two bad Jews and became collective in his approach to Judaism. What we are seeing in Gaza today is also collective punishment.”
Addressing the high profile kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli youth, Rasool said it was a known fact that the Israeli authorities had been in possession of information regarding their whereabouts, on the very same day they were murdered. He asserted that information was held back for weeks by order of the Israeli government in order to achieve more pressing objectives.
“It was a way for them to re-arrest those released in a previous hostage deal. It was a way to go after 600 Palestinian activists, and put them in jail. It was an excuse to justify the collective punishment we are seeing today. Most importantly, it was a way to create a conflict that would break the unity government between Hamas and Fatah,” he said.
He added that there was a fear amongst the Israelis that a reasonable unity government in Palestine would allow Palestinians to find a “reasonable middle ground” and be united in their resistance to the occupation. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)