Democracies are known for supporting freedoms and opposing tyrannies. This, I believe, is noble. This ought to occur across the spectrum. A democratic nation which calls out every nation which opposes freedom and is in favor of tyranny is both fair and right. Yet, what if a nation chooses to call out only one country – a country which in no way can be called a tyranny and claiming that it opposes freedoms is arguable?

Enter South Africa. We’ve all heard of it this beautiful country aptly located in the South of Africa. It is famous for many things, from its tragic history of apartheid and the following more positive the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, to its Diamonds, and beautiful nature. Yet, it is interesting what things have South Africa in the news these days.

The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanetham Pillay, (a South African), has created a much contested report to be presented before that “impartial body” in September, claiming that Israel is a violator of human rights and particularly points out December’s Operation Cast Lead as an example. Yet the Israeli government notes that it was larger based on Palestinian testimony and “unsubstantiated” information. Now, I’m all for using victim sources (something with which the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. disagrees), but one should seriously verify and triple check facts used to accuse a nation in an international forum of perpetrating despicable actions. Another report, also, largely expected to be “extremely critical”, will be presented at the same time. This report is being compiled by another South African, Richard Goldstone.

Following this logic, South African organizations have decided not to wait for the International Community to make its (potentially biased) findings, but to go on the offensive. The South African National Prosecuting Authority and Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation received an affidavit known as the “Gaza Docket” with two NGOs listed as complainants, which wish to try 70 South Africans who hold dual citizenship with Israel who served in the IDF during Cast Lead.

Not to be forgotten, the Durban Conference, held in 2001, released its well-known statement of “Zionism is Racism.”

To be clear, I am not saying that South Africa is anti-Semitic. South Africa has a vibrant Jewish community. Moreover many, or at least, some notable, individuals involved in the above cases are Jewish. However, the feeling is decidedly anti-Israel. One must wonder why a proud democracy would choose to single out a single nation for criticism while ignoring nations like the Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China, to name a few, for their clear and evident human rights abuses. Ideas?

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  • “One must wonder why a proud democracy would choose to single out a single nation for criticism while ignoring nations like the Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China, to name a few, for their clear and evident human rights abuses. Ideas?”

    Unfortunately, other than antisemitism (or brainwashing by antisemites), I see no plausible reason for so many people around the world to single out the Jewish state in so many ridiculous ways.

  • Anti-semitism in part. Additionally, Israel is widely viewed on the transnational left as a white, colonial oppressor, a militarized, nuclear-armed client state of the United States and as such, a lightning rod for all that many despise about the current world order and its dominant actors in the West.

    Israel’s friends, though, should drop the double-standard defense: ‘why aren’t Arabs and others blamed when they’ve done far worse than what we’re accused of doing?’ Apart from its weakness as (in legal terms) an affirmative and not a complete defense– don’t we want Israel held to a higher standard?

    If a single person in the US were shot to death by police at a demonstration against Obama’s health-care bill, it would make screaming headlines the world over– and properly so. And if Obama gave a press conference and complained that Ahmadinejad did far worse, he’d be booed off the stage. By all means call Libya to account for Darfur; but don’t use it to mitigate Israeli misdeeds. There are bound to be some of the latter, and a democracy should accept having its feet held to the fire for them.

  • It is one thing to hold a democracy’s feet to the fire, but it’s another thing altogether to use the UN as a hammer that constantly and unfairly attacks this de,ocracy using standards to which none of its other members are held regardless of their trespasses.

    That is, you’re right to say that it isn’t a viable excuse to say, “Why aren’t you blaming those guys if they do it too or worse than we do it” if the side using this argument is guilty as charged. But the complaint here, which is very justified, is that the emphasis on attacking Israel reveals such extraordinary bias and such willful avoidance of scrutiny of egregious violators of human rights which don’t face anything like the security problems facing Israel, that in effect they nullify their own claims. If the gravity of the supposed Israeli crimes is so great, then how could they ignore the same or worse crimes perpetrated by other nations?

  • I think your point is entirely valid. My problem above is that I don’t think it’s an argument that works, or that works nearly as well as other arguments. When I hear someone like MarK Regev use it with the BBC, for example, it sounds too akin to backpeddling and subject-changing, even when it’s not intended that way.

  • “One must wonder why a proud democracy would choose to single out a single nation for criticism while ignoring nations like the Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China, to name a few, for their clear and evident human rights abuses.”

    The UN has singled out all of these countries for human rights abuses at some time or other. And it makes sense that it would single out Israel in a report devoted to a military operation conducted by that country. The question is why the UN criticizes Israel so disproportionately. Probably partly for the reasons Tom cites above, partly because Israel makes such a nice distraction from everyone else’s domestic problems.

  • Yeah, it’s something a lot of countries can agree on, especially the ones with the oil.

  • I guess Israel should listen to South Africa. They are world leaders on the subject of violence. If the country that has the highest rate of rapes per capita and makes the top 3 of murder per capita every year says we are abusing human rights, then maybe we are. Or maybe they would rather spend their energy pointing their finger at us rather than fixing their own issues. I’m tired of Jews saying that Israel should be held to a higher standard. We are simply humans, just like South Africans, Palestinians and Americans.

    This society is judging mine?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8171874.stm

  • “don’t we want Israel held to a higher standard?”

    No. I don’t want anyone holding Israel to any standard – just let Israel deal with itself, foreign intervention is in the Middle East rarely turns out well. “קשוט עצמך ואחר כך קשוט אחרים”, from the Talmud – loosely translated: Fix yourself first, then fix others.

  • The RSA is severely struggling politically and can barely keep up its democracy. It might not be able to fulfil the Fifa’s requirements to host the Fifa Worldcup next year (which means it might return to either Germany or the US at short notice), the gap between rich and poor blacks is widening, which has added to the resentment in the townships that came with the realisation that the black leading figures appear just as little interested in the welfare of the pauper as the Apartheid regime was, it has got a fast-growing number of AIDS orphans and areas in which up to half of the women are infected with HIV. In addition, there are tribal violence and territorial conflicts. You need not look at the development of anti-Semitism during the Weimar Republic to see that an easy way of enforcing unity in a society that is on the brink of its moral, political and economical collapse is to “identify” an enemy figure.

  • Well, this really has to do with the South African citizens that served in operation Cast Lead and whether or not they have violated any human rights under the South African constitution, which I think is a valid reason for addressing the South African National Prosecuting Authority and Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation. Whether or not they have reason to prosecute the accused is up to them.

    I honestly don’t believe that South Africa singles out Israel and picks on it more than any other country. South African newspapers feature more on the injustice in its borders and a great deal on Zimbabwe. The reason for these issues coming up are really to do with the resent events between Israel and Gaza and because there is a significant Muslim and a decent sized Jewish community in South Africa that are interested in these events and voice their opinions about it.

    Anyway, that’s been my experience in the matter.

  • …Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China

    Muffti agrees in general with the complaint, but he’d like to point out that in a post about democracies, you managed to over look the crucial different between Israel and the countries on the list above – Israel is actually a democracy (Muffti knows that there are elections in Iran but…) And Israel is at war with a much weaker opponent. Democracies implicitly agree to abide by certain standards like the ones you started with. And it meets higher standards than Libya, Sudan etc but its attempts to meet those standards come with a cost – people find it appalling when they think they fall short.

    This isn’t to say that Israel doesn’t suffer from bias, anti-semitic attitudes etc. Of cousre they do. But Muffti thinks that democracies do recognize certain codes of conduct amongst each other as common and thus they try to keep each other honest. More so than tyrannies which they try perhaps to discourage (though very not often – i.e. when it’s not in their interest as we’ve seen time and time again) but don’t realy expect to hold up especially high standards of conduct.

    One might try to question a certain comparison. The US upholds VERY high standards of justice, treatment of enemies but the US faced a great deal over a handful of prisoners in Guantanamo. Why didn’t hte US sit around complaining ‘why are you guys all picking on us when Iranians jail all political opposition?’. Isn’t the obsession with how the US treated its prisoners of war in guantanamo and in secret rendition a similar obsession when we could be spending our time yelling at how the sudanese and Saudi’s treat perceived enemies? But no one does that and if hte US said that it would be totally ridiculous. But so far as Muffti can tell, it’s the same argument with one different – the UN isn’t the forum where this gets carried out.

  • If the police shot someone at an Obama town hall meeting, and the Iranians or Chinese condemned the act and denounced the United States as a totalitarian police state, the world would rightfully laugh off those comments. Of course I’m not excusing police shootings, but characterizations such as those, coming from those regimes, are virtually meaningless.

    A lot of people don’t seem to mind when it’s Syria/South Africa/Iran/whoever criticizing Israel though. The UN is a different case, but of course they reinforce their disgusting human rights record all the time, to name just one a recent example, they were singing the praises of the Sri Lankan army and went out of their way to congratulate them on a job well done, no investigations into human rights abuses asked for or required, thank you, drive through. That alone would disqualify them from credibly commenting on any other country’s military actions. And if it’s the Palestinians they really care about, because they are deemed somehow more equal than other peoples by the organization that claims to promote equality among the nations, then they can start up special commissions every time, say, Hamas bombs a mosque in Gaza and kills/injuries a bunch of Palestinian “civilians”. Provided they can get access to Gaza and be given the freedom there to investigate what happened. Which they won’t. So the UN will never mention this incident ever again, which shows that running a totalitarian state has its advantages, which is something that Hamas figured out rather quickly, because if a tree falls …

  • “Tsarist Russia entered WW1 to divert attention from its lagging behind in the process of industrialisation and the rise of communism. The Weimar Republic saw a rise of anti-Semitism whenever the economy was down, analogously, countries the economy of which has weakened lately have also experienced a rise of anti-Semitic views and anti-Semitism-driven crimes. Gaius Iulius Cesar started the Gallic Wars to gain united support from the Roman people. This kind of policy is fairly common, and if you were as well-read as you claim to be – albeit considering your lack of verbosity, I highly doubt this self-assessment to be true unless the gauge is really low – you’d be aware of it.”

    oh god froylein thank you, oh god thank you for giving me the best laugh i have had in ages

    what you are saying is this, the south afican govt is trying to enter in a conflict with israel in order to divert the peoples attention from all its problems

    ok, one problem, the poor south african guy living in the shanty town isnt going to forget his problems after reading an article on israel

    froylein seriously is this what you really think?

    tell me froylein how exactly will south africa make its poor black masses forget all their problems by publishing a critical report on israel?

    are south african slum dwellers avid followers of the middle east conflict to such a point that they would forget their daily struggle for survival?

    are the masses their ready to forget their problems and attack israel en masse?

    comparing tsarist russia’s entry into ww1 and south africa’s criticism of israel is stupid and you know it

    froylein just admit you made a mistake, no one is perfect

    • If you really need an explanation, I dare say you’re about the last person on here to call anybody stupid.

      Anti-Semitism in the RSA has been alive and thriving; even people in the townships read (tabloid) newspapers and / or listen to or watch the news. You’re painting them as illiterate tribal savages, which is pretty far from the reality. The rest has been explained above. Re-read it and try to understand it; it is written in simple English so even somebody like you might get the gist of it.

  • “The Weimar Republic saw a rise of anti-Semitism whenever the economy was down, analogously, countries the economy of which has weakened lately have also experienced a rise of anti-Semitic views and anti-Semitism-driven crimes”

    OH MY GOD, YOU ARE RIGHT FROYLEIN, SOUTH AFRICA IS THE NEXT GERMANY, AND THEY ARE USING THE HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT
    TO WAGE WAR ON THE JEWISH PEOPLE, OH MY GOD

    forylein, i love you, your sassy arguments are pure gold, tell you what, i am convinced by your solid arguments, you have won me over

  • froylein you just compared south africa to tsarist russia and weimer germany

    tell me froylein how exactly south africa is like those nations?

    it seems froylein you are changing the topic, tell me how are the blacks in south africa will wage a world war or even a small war to fight against israel?

    will south africa build a navy and invade israel?

    “You’re painting them as illiterate tribal savages, which is pretty far from the reality”……..actually i am not, i never called them savages did i, but you did that just now, revealing your inner thoughts

    froylein the economic problems in south africa are due to inequality between the whites(and a new black elite) and the poor people who live in slums(blacks and coloureds and a few whites)

    froylein you just said that they will blame israel for their economic troubles instead on the economic and political elite

    are the poor black people in south africa so stupid that they will blame israel and not the elite in their own country?

    who is insulting who froylein, it is you who has insulted their intelligence

    god what stupid arguments you people make

    • If you read that into my writing, then you clearly need to take a few reading comprehension lessons.

      You might be smart compared to your environment, but I dare say you compare rather unfavourably to most people on here.

  • There’s no need to give further proof of your limited intellectual abilities…..

    hahahaha

    froylein you havnt answered my question, are the poor black masses in south africa so ignorant that they will not blame their govt, illegal immigrants from zimbabwe, water shortage,climate chnage etc

    they are going to blame the jews?

    and this is the reason for their report criticising israel?

  • froylein are trying to google links to back up your claims?

    i assure you not even the craziest person will come up with what you have posted

  • “Last time I checked I’ve had family and friends in South Africa for a few decades.

    Tsarist Russia entered WW1 to divert attention from its lagging behind in the process of industrialisation and the rise of communism. The Weimar Republic saw a rise of anti-Semitism whenever the economy was down, analogously, countries the economy of which has weakened lately have also experienced a rise of anti-Semitic views and anti-Semitism-driven crimes. Gaius Iulius Cesar started the Gallic Wars to gain united support from the Roman people. This kind of policy is fairly common, and if you were as well-read as you claim to be – albeit considering your lack of verbosity, I highly doubt this self-assessment to be true unless the gauge is really low – you’d be aware of it.”

    so froylein what were you implying apart from the fact that south africa was becoming anti semitic so that it could blame its problems on israel

    “Anti-Semitism in the RSA has been alive and thriving; even people in the townships read (tabloid) newspapers and / or listen to or watch the news. You’re painting them as illiterate tribal savages, which is pretty far from the reality. The rest has been explained above. Re-read it and try to understand it; it is written in simple English so even somebody like you might get the gist of it.”

    once again you posted that the black people were captivated by the israel-palestinian conflict

    fine, please explain what you were saying, lets see you get out of the corner you painted yourself in

  • “You might be smart compared to your environment, but I dare say you compare rather unfavourably to most people on here.”

    i have never stated that i was “smart”

    nor have i compared myself to the clearly brilliant people in this blog, once again, its all your thinking froylein

    but thank you, i am flattered that you think i am smart

    and froylein, personal insults wont save your argument from the bubble of incoherent illogical reasoning it is trapped in

    • It’s all explained above. If you feel a need to read statements into my replies that are not in there, then that is due to you.

      On a final note, I don’t think you are smart; you came here with a certain agenda and were figured out. Now your attempt at giving yourself better credentials than what you’re worth by insinuating I’d stated matters I hadn’t actually stated is just lame. All I wanted to say was said above. If you don’t understand it, don’t blame me.

  • Tom – first, I don’t care what other people like and don’t like. Second – why is a higher standard good? If there is a higher standard, that means there is a lower standard too, and that is a double standard, by definition.

  • in other words, you cant explain how south africa is similar to tsarist russia and weimer germany and how south africa is trying to mask its problems by focusing on israel

    froylein please, dont try to pull arguments from your finely shaped ass

    • Alright, that does it. Ruminating on how little you understand won’t make me explain anything that was expressed in clear enough terms above.

      Also, my behind and its shape are none of your business, neither literally nor figuratively.

    • Wow. Dr Phil your argumentation is breathtaking. Breathtaking in its lameness that is. It’s very common for embattled governments of all kinds, large or small, seeking to shift the focus away from domestic problems, to instead draw attention to real or imagined external or international problems. This is the stuff of Poli Sci 101. But I don’t know. Maybe all your High School history books became submerged underwater in a flood. I don’t want to be unfair. I know that happens a lot in your neck of the woods.

  • dr. phil, anything you have said so far should be discounted because of this fuckery: “when ever you jews think you are on top, you suffer horrible genocides”

    why don’t you take an ilan pappe book and shove it up your ass 🙂

  • Well, Dr. Phil is from Bangladesh.

    That makes him come from the same place as CTC. Since we have never had another poster from there and since his comments about Froylein are of the same sort that CTC used to make, it appears we have CTC back.

    That also means that his turn here is over.

  • That’s because my figure is of no relevance whatsoever to anybody who reads this blog. 🙂 That said, Tom hasn’t seen it either.

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