Politics Notebook | It’s not chutzpah, it’s genocide


Politics Notebook | It’s not chutzpah, it’s genocide

MAX DU PREEZ writes about the shifting international public opinion on Israel's war in Gaza, accusations that Thuli Madonsela is a Hamas agent, and Elon Musk who can't say namasté.


DURING the temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza to facilitate the exchange of hostages, many international experts and analysts declared that it would be impossible for Israel to continue its destruction of Gaza and widespread eradication of thousands of civilians afterwards.

(Yes, it was a “hostage exchange" because nearly every Palestinian released was detained by Israel without trial — they call it “administrative detention".)

More than 16,000 residents of Gaza, at least 7,000 of them children, have been killed by Israeli bombs, missiles and tanks.

Despite this, Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers and generals resumed the bombardment of Gaza, leading to a sharp increase in the number of deaths and an escalation of extremely dire conditions in the area.

Lees hierdie artikel in Afrikaans:

I suspect history will judge Netanyahu as the man who made Israel more unsafe for a long time and seriously undermined international sympathy for the state.

While Hamas is a nasty, bloodthirsty group, Netanyahu and company won't be judged much better.

The secretary-general of the UN, António Guterres, took the unusual step this week of making a direct call to the security council under article 99 of the UN Charter to enforce a ceasefire. The situation in Gaza is rapidly deteriorating into a “catastrophe", says Guterres, with a collapse of public order and the likely outbreak of epidemics.

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, also took an unusual step after visiting the European hospital in Gaza by publicly calling for a swift ceasefire declaration. 

“The things I saw are beyond anything that anyone should be in a position to describe. What shocked me the most were the children, with atrocious injuries and at the same time having lost their parents, with no-one looking after them.

“We are facing a situation here that will not be healed by sending in more trucks. We need to provide protection to the civilians in Gaza, to the women and children, to the elderly people that I saw today that have nowhere to go.

“We have to find solutions to this. We can't turn away from what is evidently a moral failure in the face of the international community."

Mad Mark and Comical Ali

As the tide of public opinion begins to turn internationally, Israel is intensifying its propaganda war. The man representing Israel's case on almost every international channel for the Netanyahu government is Mark Regev, an Australian by birth.

His spin tactics remind me a lot of Saddam Hussein's chief propagandist and minister of information during the US invasion of Iraq, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, better known as Comical Ali for the nonsense he spouted.

Israel waited a full two months after the Hamas attack on October 7 before claiming this week that Hamas systematically raped Israeli women on that day and is now holding a group of female hostages for the sexual use of Hamas fighters.

I have no way of determining whether this is true or false (if true, it's horrifying), but I find it strange that this information was withheld to coincide with Israel's second assault on Gaza.

There's a good chance we'll find out one day that it was exaggerated, much like the initial stories about the large number of beheaded babies that were later proven untrue.

The reality of Hamas's brutal attack on October 7 is chilling and reprehensible enough; Israel doesn't need to embellish stories.

I've particularly noticed a shift in BBC World's reporting on Israel to a more critical stance.

The BBC's international editor, Jeremy Bowen,  for instance, broadcast a disturbing report on the attacks on Palestinian farmers by Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

Thuli a Jew hater?

In South Africa, the war of words and insults around the war in Gaza continues unabated, with especially those who criticise Israel being attacked. 

One such victim of abuse is Prof Thuli Madonsela of Stellenbosch, the former public protector. She is being painted as a Jew-hater and Hamas apologist, among other things, by a retired Unisa professor of media studies, Stefan Sonderling. 

The one line the supporters of Israel's war use every day is that the humber of casualties in Gaza is a Hamas lie. 

The truth, as explained by the reputable news agency Reuters, is that the number of 16,000 dead bodies is probably an undercount. 

Not namasté 

The outburst on television by the world's richest man, Elon Musk, about advertisers that want to boycott his X/Twitter — “Go fuck yourself!” he exclaimed repeatedly — show how the world has become more tolerant of banalities and swear words. 

In 1976, the character in the film Network who shouted  “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this any more!” became a risque meme. 

Fast forward to the recent Netflix series Grace and Frankie, with this becoming a meme: 

And then there was the Greek newspaper that was annoyed by the British prime minister's snub of a Greek delegation who wanted to talk about Greek statues in British possession: 

♦ VWB ♦

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