The Smoking Socks award is awarded to a letter writer in a South African paper whose funky smelling socks have induced him/her into a bout of prejudiced stupidity.
Michael Bagraim – Chairman of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) – responded in a letter saying that the SA government has constantly been supportive of Israeli governments that took positive steps toward the achievement of Palestinian statehood.
Michael Belling followed up with a letter asserting that Mbeki’s policy towards Israel is balanced and supports a two state solution. Belling, as I did, noted Mbeki’s letter of support and praise sent to PM Sharon after the disengagement.
In contrast, Joel Pollack from the DA then defended Holliday’s central point saying that the ANC may have indeed made an about-turn on Israel – something which many of the ANC rank-and-file might oppose. Pollack criticised Bagraim and Belling for their inaccurate suggesting that the ANC had always taken a balanced approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
|They are wrong to say Mbeki and the South African government have taken a consistent stance toward Israel. From 2001 to 2004, the government refused to meet Israeli government representatives and confined itself to meeting members of the opposition. Furthermore, ANC and government rhetoric was consistently hostile towards Israel. Israel was referred to as "racist" and senior ministers, including Ronnie Kasrils, excoriated Ariel Sharon as a "butcher". Throughout this period, the`board of deputies often protested against the government`s remarks and its attitudes towards Israel. As Holiday points out, government policy began to shift in 2004...|
And here now, ANC Chief Whip and winner of the latest IAS Smoking Socks Award - Max Ozinski, one of the ran-and-file specifically mentioned by Pollack, plays straight into Pollack's trap. Read as Max Ozinski sounds more like the children at the ANC Youth League than the Youth League itself.
A GET-WELL message from President Thabo Mbeki to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon seems to have thrown Zionists into confusion - does this represent a change in government or ANC policy? A message to an ailing leader is not support for his policies, but a normal diplomatic courtesy. There is no change in policy, which still supports the right of the Palestinian and Israeli people to self-determination and the call for the implementation of international law, including an Israeli withdrawal from the illegally occupied Palestinian territories. Government diplomacy hopes to achieve this through solidarity with the Palestinian people and by encouraging negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian leadership. Our government has consistently applauded any step to strengthen negotiations and create an independent Palestinian state, and condemned actions which threaten this.
Thus, it argued strongly in the International Court of Justice against the building of the wall of occupation, a position which was sustained by the court`s advisory opinion, and has supported Sharon`s withdrawal from Gaza. The biggest obstacle to negotiations has been the intransigence of the Israeli government. Our government has tried to encourage influential Israelis to leam the lessons of our experience and to engage in negotiations to reach a political settlement.
What has continually changed is the position of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, which changes its positions to reflect the policies of the Israeli government of the day. It is time to for the SAJBD to take a principled stance and to stop dancing to the tune of the Israeli government. Joel Pollack (January 17) is incorrect to say I have called for a boycott of Israeli products. I support a boycott of products from illegal Israeli settlements. This is consistent with international law and the call of Israeli and Palestinian civil society. It is time for all South Africans, including Jews, to take steps to help end the illegal occupation and to create an independent Palestinian state.
MAX OZINSKY MPL ANC CHIEF WHIP, WESTERN CAPE PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURE
Will there ever be a more deserved winner of the Smoking Socks Award?