How Anti-Zionism Became South Africa’s Official Ideology

Aug. 15 2022

“In no other democratic country in the world,” writes Ben Cohen, “has anti-Zionism enjoyed the kind of mainstream success that it has in South Africa.” During the recent few days of fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad, for instance, there was relatively little of the usual global uproar that surrounds such episodes—with South Africa being the exception, as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party made a point of condemning the Jewish state and accusing it of apartheid. Cohen writes:

The word “apartheid” is key to understanding why South Africa—more than the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, most of Europe, and even parts of the Islamic world—has proved so receptive to the core anti-Zionist contention that Israel has no right to a sovereign, independent existence. Apartheid—the system of racial segregation and unequal development that prevailed in South Africa for most of the 20th century—ensured that a white minority of 10 percent ruled with an iron fist over a black majority of 90 percent.

The fact that no similar laws exist in Israel hasn’t stopped the ANC, which like many anti-colonial movements in the developing world embraced the Palestinian cause during the cold war, from applying word “apartheid” to the Palestinians. The ANC believes—and has persuaded many ordinary South Africans to believe—that Israel is a carbon copy of the old, unlamented apartheid regime, and that its Jewish citizens, who descend from all corners of the world, are the equivalent of the boorish Boer settlers from Holland who colonized their country during the 19th century.

As always the case with anti-Zionism, the hostility isn’t restricted to Israel as a state but spills over into open anti-Semitism targeting Jews more generally. Last week, one of South Africa’s most popular news outlets published an uncomplicatedly anti-Semitic op-ed that neatly demonstrated how easy it is to graft traditional anti-Semitism onto ostensibly progressive concerns about racial injustice. . . .

Our admiration for the struggle against apartheid, coupled with our knowledge of the suffering endured by black South Africans under that system, has perhaps made us reticent about criticizing the current generation of leaders. No more.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, South Africa

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam