Monday, January 5, 2009

Editorial: Hold Israel to the Same Standard of Civilized Conduct as Other Lands - Mondhli Makhanya

The Times, South Africa, January 4, 2009 - Israel's response to the "provocation" amounted to a steroid-pumped heavyweight boxer arriving to fight an anaemic midget armed with steel-lined boxing gloves.

Israel's response to these attacks was, as always, wanton destruction of everything that lay before it....

I was unfortunate (it's definitely not fortunate to witness horror) to have seen the raw work of the Israeli state first hand during a visit to the region during the middle of 2008.

The group that I was part of visited many parts of the country and saw advanced apartheid at work.

I remember thinking then that not in their worst hour of depravity could the Nats have been so vile. So vile that it has traumatized and disgusted many of those military conscripts and officers who are meant to enforce Israel's authority over the Palestinians.

One of these young men, Yehuda Shaul, was a commander in the Israeli Defence Forces until he could no longer stomach the cruelty he himself was meting out and co-founded Breaking the Silence, a group that gives voice to serving and former soldiers who wanted to share their experiences of the conflict.

He became part of a growing brigade of Israelis who are dissociating themselves from the injustices being perpetrated by their government.

But they are a voice the world powers do not want to hear.

Israel is part of the global community and is a signatory to many of the conventions that govern human conduct in the modern era.

We should abhor what it does in exactly the same way that we abhor Russia's terrorism in Chechnya and its aggression in Georgia, Robert Mugabe's violation of human rights and his deliberate starvation of his people, China's jackboot treatment of Tibetans, and the Burmese junta's oppression of that country's people....

The state of Israel has every right to defend itself against aggression and to secure its citizens.

But no state has the right to do that at the expense of the human rights and right to life of innocent civilians.

Unless we are prepared to see Israel's brutal oppression for what it is, and say something about it, we have no right to say anything about any human-rights violators in other parts of the world.

Not even about the mad despot next door.

Mondli Makhanya is currently the Editor-in-Chief of
The Sunday Times, South Africa's largest weekly newspaper.

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