For the past week rockets fired from Gaza have rained down on Israeli towns in the south of Israel. Yesterday, it was Jerusalem’s turn to be targeted. Rockets are indiscriminate. They imperil the lives of all who live in the Holy City, whether Jew, Christian or Muslim.
Despite this, the South African Government has chosen to single out Israel for exclusive condemnation, disregarding completely the over three hundred deadly rockets fired thus far against Israeli civilians.
The double standards do not stop there. Whereas countries throughout the world sent condolences to Israel following the tragic loss of 45 lives in Meron, South Africa has yet to follow suit even two weeks later. However, within 24 hours it was able to issue a statement condemning Israel.
In their determination to condemn Israel come what may, Government has reversed cause and effect. The reality – and not for the first time - is that the initial clashes were deliberately orchestrated by the Palestinian leadership and have now culminated in a lethal barrage of missile fire on Jerusalem and other heavily populated cities.
If Government, and indeed all political parties, wish to be part of ending this latest tragic outburst of violence, they must show genuine even-handedness. Those who unquestioningly endorse the claims and actions of one side while completely ignoring those of the other do nothing to resolve the conflict. In fact, they only make a bad situation worse.
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation call on our Government and indeed all political parties and media to show even-handedness, and acknowledge the complexity of the situation. Demonising Israel, as we have seen in certain statements coming out are irresponsible, inflammatory and dangerous.
Tensions are already heightened around a number of issues, including a domestic land dispute in East Jerusalem, rock-throwing at the Kotel, Judaism’s holiest site, Jerusalem Day and Ramadan.