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Zionist semantics in SA: DA leopard will not change its spots on Palestine

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South African politician Helen Zille, a leader of the rightwing Democratic Alliance, which for the first time holds positions in the government after the ANC won the 2024 elections, but without an outright majority. – Picture: Democratic Alliance / Flickr, via Wikimedia Commons

By Iqbal Jassat

Has Helen Zille emerged as a leading agitator to reverse South Africa’s groundbreaking efforts in solidarity with Palestine’s freedom struggle against Zionism’s illegal settler colonial regime?

Her demands on the African National Congress (ANC) to concede a number of key ministerial posts in the proposed Government of National Unity (GNU), to her Democratic Alliance (DA) party, included that of International Relations.

If the foreign affairs portfolio fell in the hands of the DA, South Africa might have had to say goodbye to the enormous strides made by successive ANC governments from the time of Nelson Mandela until this GNU moment.

DA’s mimicking of Israel’s hostile position on Palestine’s leading Islamic resistance movement is spelled out by it as follows:

“In Palestine, radicalism (sic) is represented by Hamas. The DA, along with most of the world, regards Hamas as a terrorist organisation…”

The language used by the DA is coded in typical Zionist semantics. “Radicalism” is often associated with Islamophobic racists to imply that Muslims are “irrational” and unwilling to “conform” to “normalised behaviour”.

If one decodes the word “radicalism” in the context applied by the DA linking Hamas to it, apart from the fact that such malicious usage comes straight out of Israel’s propaganda handbook, it also makes clear the DA’s pro-Israel bias.

To illustrate how far-removed John Steenhuisen and his party are from the reality of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, the DA wilfully ignores what many human rights organisations including Israel’s Bet’selem cite as root causes for Palestinian resistance: settlements, annexation, ethnic cleansing, siege and occupation.

Failure to correctly diagnose the source of Palestinian discontent will result in the type of misalignment evident in the DA’s bizarre “solution”:

“Part of the path to peace involves eliminating (sic) Hamas’ capacity to utilise Gaza as a staging ground for terror attacks and a supply base for its militants.”

Again, once such outrageous language is decoded, it reveals that the DA shows scant regard for South Africa’s own freedom struggle against apartheid.

Importantly, to proclaim without any shred of evidence that it, the DA “… along with most of the world, regards Hamas as a terrorist organisation…”, displays arrogance, and a sense of recklessness coupled with Israeli-styled impunity.

Sure, the Zilles and Steenhuisens of the world are free to align their anti-Palestinian bias with that of the Zionist regime’s racist war criminals led by Benjamin Netanyahu, but to do so by regurgitating false Israeli propaganda is extremely naive.

If the DA lives under the illusion that the US administration along with the British and German governments equate to “most of the world”, it demonstrates how skewed their understanding is.

Also, by demonising Hamas as a “terrorist organisation”, the DA seems not to have learnt any lessons from South Africa’s political history during the notorious era when liberation movements, its leaders and members were hunted and mowed down as “terrorists”.

Israeli regimes have acted no differently to the National Party’s racist mantra: proscribe your opponents, especially those engaged in armed struggle against your policies of oppression and subjugation as “terrorists”.

Once dehumanising is under way, “most of the world (sic)” i.e. western capitals and their respective military-industrial complexes will spare no effort to finance and arm you to the hilt to “eliminate” freedom movements wrongly and deliberately profiled as “terrorists”.

The DA’s participation in any form of coalition with the African National Congress in the proposed GNU, is problematic to say the least.

Being firmly embedded in the North by articulating Western hegemony in its vision of international relations, whether in respect of Ukraine or Israel, the DA will remain an impediment.

Equally, it is highly unlikely for the DA to suddenly embrace South-South co-operation.

Developing countries in the Global South have adopted meaningful plans of co-operation, in which South Africa has been pivotal, especially in pursuit of human rights.

Having failed to take a principled position in defence of Palestinian rights by not supporting South Africa’s groundbreaking legal initiatives at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), one is sceptical of the DA’s so-called plea for “peace” in the absence of justice.

To ridicule Palestine’s freedom struggle in terms associated with Islamophobia such as “radicalism”, “fundamentalism” and “terrorism”, does very little to engender hope, that Zille’s and Steenhuisen’s Democratic Alliance will move away from its pro-Israel position.

Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the South Africa-based Media Review Network. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.