Ebrahim Moosa – Cii News (21-06-12)
A senior figure in South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance(DA), has publicly stated that she considers it unfair to refer to Israel as a state practicing Apartheid. Lindiwe Mazibuko, parliamentary leader of the party that also governs the Western Cape province, reportedly made the comments at a gathering of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ Cape committee in April.
A report on the event, published in the SA Jewish Report, quotes Mazibuko as saying, “I don’t think it’s a fair analogy to make.”
Mazibuko used the event to discuss local challenges, corruption, Middle East peace and the party’s plans for the next national elections.
Commenting on the official opposition’s stance on Palestinian-Israeli relations, she said the DA concurred fully with official South African government policy on the conflict. “I can’t say our policy is a radical departure from (that of) the ANC. We recognise a two-state solution with a single capital that’s shared, in the form of Jerusalem.” However, Mazibuko-who is often touted to become the DA’s first black leader, made it clear that she believed Palestinians had to bear a greater responsibility for the ongoing violence.
“A couple of atrocities have been committed – many more on the Palestinian side – but wrongs have been done,” she added, stressing that “Palestinian disadvantage” vis-a-vis Israel had to be addressed alongside “Palestinian responsibility” for violence. “Israel needs to be held accountable for excessively violent and military responses, likewise the Palestinians terrorising Israelis,” she said.
Explaining why she found the Apartheid analogy problematic, Mazibuko suggested that in contrast to South Africa, there was a “much more equal distribution of suffering” in the Middle East. Additionally, the parliamentary leader told the audience that she believed the Apartheid regime in South Africa had committed “far more atrocities” than what have been documented in Israel.
Mazibuko’s published comments appear to be largely representative of official DA policy on the Middle East. Although available documentation on the party’s foreign policy deals only briefly with the Middle East, several high ranking party members have over the years also adopted similar stances on the conflict.
A 2009 DA policy paper entitled, ‘GLOBAL OPPORTUNITY: The Democratic Alliance’s proposal for a rational, rules- based and ethical foreign policy’ advocates working with the leading nations of the world to help address the conflict in the Middle East, by lending South African support to a two state solution, “that will see Israel and Palestine living together in peace, with mutual respect for each state’s right to exist in security.” However, the party has repeatedly censured the ANC government for what it suggests is an “ideological” approach to international relations. The same document states: “It is clear that strong loyalty to rulers and regimes which supported the ANC in its struggle against apartheid and a desire to tilt the world-order in a direction more congenial to the developing world has caused the untethering of our foreign policy and practices in a direction diametrically opposite to the one chartered by Nelson Mandela.”
Amongst the supportive parties implicit in this reference is the PLO, the umbrella body for Palestinian national aspirations, that had warm relations with the ANC during the years of the anti-Apartheid struggle. In a 2000 parliamentary debate on Ariel Sharon’s controversial visit to Masjid al Aqsa, wherein the ANC adopted a motion denouncing Israeli military action and calling Sharon’s move provocative, then leader of the DA, Tony Leon, responded by alleging that tha ANC was showing its “ugly face” in being prepared to set “community against community, misuse religion and even import foreign conflicts for domestic political gain.” Leon denounced South Africa for adopting a foreign policy in the Middle East that was “anti-colonial, anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian.”
Speaking to Cii in 2011, DA Shadow Minister for International Relations Kenneth Mubu brushed aside a question about the United States consistent use of its veto power at the United Nations to counter anti-Israel resolutions. “You know,” he responded, “the Israel matter is a very complex one. That’s maybe a discussion for another day,” . Mubu however stressed that any settlement of the conflict should come through the auspices of the UN. He also said the DA favoured the inclusion of all factions representing the Palestinians, including Hamas, at peace negotiations.
Prior to previous national and provincial elections, Palestinian solidarity activists have alleged that voting for the DA was tantamount to voting for Israel. Again, the ANC in the Western Cape recently declared its intention to challenge the perceivedly close relationship between the DA-led provincial government and the State of Israel. The DA has not officially responded to the campaign. But in the wake of Mazibuko’s statements on the conflict and a recently scheduled official visit by the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture to Israel, the official opposition may find the allegation much harder to defend.Apartheid, DA, Democratic Alliance, Ebrahim Moosa, Israel, Lindiwe Mazibuko, Tony Leon, Western Cape, Zionism