Posts Tagged ‘jesse duarte’

My letter to Jesse Duarte

July 11, 2014

It is common knowledge that the ANC has it in for Israel. Even though it is ‘official’ South African government policy to support a peaceful two state solution, we have become used to the regular verbal attacks against Israel by individuals within (or aligned) with the ANC. Personally, I am dismissive of these attacks and I put it down to ignorance, inflated ego and politicising. Come on, there are greater atrocities in this world that these so called leaders always choose to ignore. I don’t even need to get into examples, there are so many take your pick.

That said, I shivered in my boots when I read yesterday’s press statement  authored by Jesse Duarte and released on the ANC website (read: very public forum). It was absolutely disgusting and extremely inciting. I lay in bed last night frightened at the prospect of how words like this could dangerously impact on Jews living in South Africa, whether maliciously intended or not on our community. Jesse Duarte’s actions cannot go unchecked. Although it will ultimately be left to the appropriate representative bodies to campaign for the community and safety, individuals also need to lend a voice. These are my words..


FAO: The Executive of the ANC



Dear The Executive of the ANC

Re: My response to the ANC Press statement dated 10 July 2014 titled ‘The situation in Gaza Strip’ by Jesse Duarte


I hope this letter reaches its intended addressees.

Firstly, I would like to query if the statement titled ‘The situation in Gaza Strip’ authored by Ms. Jesse Duarte, in her capacity as the Deputy Secretary General of the ANC, and posted to the public ANC website, is the official position of the ANC regarding Israel i.e. the position of the governing party of South Africa?

The purpose of my letter is not an attempt to enter a debate with Ms. Duarte on her views on the politics of the Middle East (i.e. Israel and Palestine). Ms. Duarte obviously feels so strongly in her Anti-Israel views that she felt the need to proclaim her opinions on the official website of the ANC, with the tacit approval of the ANC infrastructure.  Any reader of the statement can interpret the message that Ms. Duarte’s (and the ANC’s) statement conveys: Pro Palestinian and Anti-Israel in the most damning tone.

My question to the ANC executive is if they have given any consideration to the impact of Ms. Duarte’s ANC press statement on the Jewish community of South Africa?

I actually wonder if Ms. Duarte actually considered as to how her inflammatory statements would impact on Jewish South Africans?  I am a Jewish South African citizen, and based on prior actions and statements by the ANC and its representatives, I have accepted that the government of South Africa is openly one sided against Israel. That stance within itself is cause for concern based on the fact that there is a strong Jewish heritage in South Africa.  It is an alienating stance.

I have never experienced anti-Semitism in South Africa in all the years that I have lived here. That is not something to be thankful for, that is something that one expects in a country of such strong convictions and diversity. However, the vitriolic tone of Ms. Duarte’s statement and explicit ‘call to arms’  against Israel was of such substance and hatred towards Israel that I literally went cold when reading it. My literal interpretation of such a strongly worded statement by Ms. Duarte was my first experience of flagrant anti-Semitism in South Africa. To me, Ms. Duarte has blatant disregard for the Jewish citizens of South Africa. She is experienced enough to know that she will invoke an angry response from the representative bodies from the Jewish community of South Africa (as was the case). Even if Ms. Duarte argues that her statement was Anti-Zionistic and not Anti-Semitic, many Jewish South African citizens I have spoken to feel the same way I do. And that is evidence enough of the damage the statement Ms. Duarte has caused a section of the South African population, no matter how large or small that section.

My own view is that such a strongly worded display of Anti-Zionism is a masked (yet increasingly) less-subtle form of Anti-Semitism. The recent comprehensive survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League into global anti-Semitism shows that 38% (or 13 million) adult South Africans harbor anti-Semitic views (and Ms. Duarte statement exhibits some of these views – in the form of a public official statement!! It blows my mind).  Considering that the ADL survey also shows that a large percentage of the population has never met or interacted with a Jewish person, only affirms for me the reckless and persuasive nature of the official press statement by Ms. Duarte.  Ms. Duarte is an experienced politician and public servant to the citizens of South Africa, therefore, she has no excuse to be so careless and biased in the most public of forums. She should know better to be so insensitive and to handle a delicate situation, well, delicately. The ANC should know better too.

Ms. Duarte should be the one who should be well reminded of the “atrocities of Nazi Germany”, as it is exactly this kind of rhetoric, her words, that inflames the hatreds towards the Jews of the world. Readers of these words, many who are not as well-informed as an experienced politician as Ms. Duarte, are not in a position to properly disseminate the propaganda preached by Ms. Duarte and are not able to differentiate between Israel and Jews. It sets a very dangerous precedent. Not only in South Africa.  Based on their very public and influential positions in society, Ms. Duarte and the ANC need no reminding that it is their role to act more responsibly towards the people of South Africa.  Ms. Duarte is setting a very dangerous, irresponsible and frightening precedent.

I am certainly no official or religious representative of the Jewish community (that is the job of the official organizations), yet in my view, the ANC needs no reminding that, despite the size of our community, the Jewish citizens of South Africa positively contribute to all aspects of South African society.   From what I can see, as an active professional in the South African business community, the Jewish community is totally committed to the betterment of our beautiful country.

I am just one voice, however, one that is not alone, and I am telling you that the statement by Ms. Duarte was unacceptable. I have had the opportunity to live elsewhere but I am a proud South African, and South Africa is my home. Don’t alienate me, embrace me… I guarantee you that your investment in me and my community will continue to pay off. As it always has…


Ps. Ms. Duarte, it was three young Israeli people murdered, not two as you incorrectly stated.

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