September 06, 2006

Engage on Ronnie Kasrils

Engage has linked to an article by South Afica's intelligence minister, Ronnie Kasrils. They've actually posted what they consider to be the salient points. The full article is in the Mail and Guardian. Remember Engage claims to be, not a zionist site to insulate Israel from criticism or condemnation, but a campaign against antisemitism. So they seem to have posted what they did on the grounds that they want their supporters to claim that the following short extracts are somehow antisemitic.
In fact, from the onset, Zionism aimed at the dispossession of the indigenous population so that Israel could become a wholly Jewish state. As the Palestinians became aware of these intentions they, quite naturally, began resisting. At Israel’s independence in 1948, based on the United Nations Partition Plan -- about 56% of the land to the Jewish state and 44% to the Palestinians -- Israel acquired the power, aid and resources to expand to 78% of the former territory, expelled Palestinians and, with American backing, became the regional superpower. .

[...]

Lebanon, too, has been a part of Zionist annexation plans. Israel long regarded the Litani river to its north as its natural border, and constantly sought to turn the country into a Christian bulwark against the Muslims. It invaded in 1948, 1978 and 1982 and stayed in the south until 2000, before being driven out by Hizbullah. In that period Israel provoked civil war, connived in massacres, created a proxy army in the south, and still holds on to strategic farmland. No wonder a retreating Israeli soldier grumbled that Lebanon was a never-ending story.
None of this is antisemitic. I think we can assume that Alexandra Simonon didn't post this because she approved of it. She might well believe the article. But she definitely wants zionists to denounce it as antisemitic and maybe hone some arguments around it.

She must have been quite disappointed with the comments. Most don't address what he actually said but his background. The tone was set with the first comment:
Another one of the new conservatives ?
That was it. That was a contribution to the debate. Linda Grant realised that they were going to have to do a bit better than an ad hominem attack. So she got straight to the heart of the matter and, er, changed the subject:
I dunno, Ronnie, how much longer will S. Africa allow Mugabe to get away with starving his own people?
The rest (mostly anyway) deal with his background. John Strawson left a comment criticising the people who were attacking his background. He's the brain end of the Engage operation. I think he stood for election for the World Zionist Congress but he wouldn't tell me when I asked him. I don't think he answered anyway. He claimed that his support for Israel was no different from his support for Iran, North Korea, Syria and Bulgaria. Anyway, digression. Sorry. Here's John Strawson's comment:
Ronnie Kasrils has been a great figther against oppression and is a hero of the struggle against apartheid. The implication from Green and Jeremy that membership of MK and military training in Odessa is some how suspcious is absurd, it was couragous - and politically and ethically correct. Ronnis is wrong about Zionism and his current views on Israel not because of his background but inspite of it.
See that? He's clever John Strawson is. He realised what these zionists were doing. How many comments from Engage supporters condemning a man's anti-apartheid credentials before someone from Engage cottoned on to the fact that their penchant for ad hominem attacks was leading them to denigrate the anti-apartheid struggle. Or was it just their penchant for ad hominem attacks? Perhaps they are so wedded to their racist ideology of zionism and they are so morally compromised by their support for the racist war criminal zionist project in Palestine that they really cannot understand an anti-racist struggle. That coupled with their deliberate, dishonest and false conflating of antisemitism and anti-zionism. In all of the comments, I only saw one out of (at the time of writing) 15 that actually took issue with the facts as related by Kasrils in his article. Others (including John Strawson) simply said he was wrong about zionism without saying how he was wrong, since he wasn't.

The fact is that Ronnie Kasrils was a courageous fighter against racist rule and he still is. He is no more wrong on zionism than he was about apartheid.

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