PRESS STATEMENT: On the Death of Shimon Peres, Apartheid collaborator and Israeli war criminal

29 September 2016

Former Israeli Defence Minister and then President, Shimon Peres is well known for the military relations he forged between Israel and Apartheid South Africa during the 1980s. He said: “Israel and [Apartheid] South Africa have one thing above all else in common: they are both situated in a predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples.”

 

During the height of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Apartheid South Africa, Israel broke the arms embargo and supplied the Apartheid regime with military equipment. These weapons were then used against our people.

 

Shimon Peres tried to come across as a peacemaker but it was a facade to cover the real story of Israeli racism, ethnic cleansing and oppression against the Palestinian people.

 

Peres was part of the Haganah, the militia responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages in 1947. Peres was also part of the Israeli Government that oversaw the expansion of Israel’s illegal Jewish only settlements, at the time he served as defence minister.

 

As Prime Minister in 1996, Peres ordered and oversaw Operation Grapes of Wrath in which Israel killed over 150 Lebanese civilians. The campaign’s most brutal incident was the Qana massacre where Israel shelled a United Nations compound and killed 106 civilians.

 

He was also racist towards Iranians, in 2012 there were reports that over six million Iranians were suffering from cancer and were unable to get treatment due to sanctions, Peres said: “If they want to return to a normal life, let them become normal.”

 

It is in this context that the human rights and Palestine solidarity organization BDS South Africa is shocked to see members of the media speak of Peres as a “Peacemaker”. We are even more disturbed to have received a statement by South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) praising and paying tribute to Peres, an apartheid collaborator and war criminal.

 

From this DIRCO statement it seems that there is an inconsistency. The political position and posture of South Africa’s democratically elected Government is at odds with the media release published by DIRCO which was essentially a praise singing statement of a war criminal and reads as something authored by a member of the Israeli lobby. Furthermore, for deployees from the governing party, this statement is at odds with the party’s policies and resolutions.

 

It cannot be accepted that president Jacob Zuma, DIRCO Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane and other Government officials articulate our policy on the international stage, only to be undermined by the issuing of biased and pro-Israeli press statements. President Zuma speaking at the UN recentlycorrectly termed the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli regime as an anti-colonial struggle when he said: “The lack of progress in finding a durable solution to the Palestinian question and the Saharawi Arab Republic’s struggle for self-determination remain a major concern for us…it is important that the United Nations should carry out its historic mission in ensuring that the two longest outstanding decolonization and occupation issues are resolved once and for all, in fulfilment of the UN Charter objectives.”

 

Minister Nkoane-Mashabane has previously said: “[Government] Ministers of South Africa do not visit Israel currently…our Palestinian friends have asked us in formal meetings to not engage with the [Israeli] regime. We have agreed to slow down and curtail senior leadership contact with that regime until things begin to look better…The struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle.”

 

This was reiterated recently at the Non Aligned Movement when she said: “The cause of Palestinian statehood has become our own. As the first president of our non-racist, non-sexist and free South Africa, President Nelson Mandela, said: ‘South Africa will not be free as long as Palestine is not free’. The illegal [Israeli] settlement activity and daily violations of human rights of the Palestinians cannot be ignored.”

 

South Africa need not celebrate the death of a war criminal, but we do not celebrate his life. Thousands of South Africans, including our elected leaders, remember painfully the thousands who died under the rule of Shimon Peres.

 

BDS South Africa calls on the Presidency, the Minister and the Deputy Minister concerned to clarify. Indeed it is long overdue that individuals at DIRCO who contradict our elected leadership and policies are called to order, we cannot have such misconduct.

 

ISSUED BY BDS SOUTH AFRICA

For Comment:
Muhammed Desai 0842119988
Kwara Kekana 0740543826

BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL IN SOUTH AFRICA (BDS SOUTH AFRICA)
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