20 April 2018


Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy

Photo by Swithun Crowe | CC BY 2.0

The term ‘media bias’ does not do justice to the western corporate media’s relationship with Israel and Palestine. The relationship is, indeed, far more profound than mere partiality. It is not ignorance, either. It is a calculated and long-term campaign, aimed at guarding Israel and demonizing Palestinians.

The current disgraceful coverage of Gaza’s popular protests indicates that the media’s position aims at suppressing the truth on Palestine, at any cost and by any means.

Political symbiosis, cultural affinity, Hollywood, the outreaching influence of pro-Israel and Zionist groups within the political and media circles, are some of the explanations many of us have offered as to why Israel is often viewed with sympathetic eyes and Palestinians and Arabs condemned.

But such explanations should hardly suffice. Nowadays, there are numerous media outlets that are trying to offset some of the imbalance, many of them emanating from the Middle East, but also other parts of the world. Palestinian and Arab journalists, intellectuals and cultural representatives are more present on a global stage than ever before and are more than capable of facing off, if not defeating, the pro-Israeli media discourse.

However, they are largely invisible to western media; it is the Israeli spokesperson who continues to occupy the center stage, speaking, shouting, theorizing and demonizing as he pleases.

It is, then, not a matter of media ignorance, but policy.

Even before March 30, when scores of Palestinians in Gaza were killed and thousands wounded, the US and British media, for example, should have, at least, questioned why hundreds of Israeli snipers and army tanks were ordered to deploy at the Gaza border to face-off Palestinian protesters.

Instead, they referred to ‘clashes’ between Gaza youth and the snipers, as if they are equal forces in an equivalent battle.

Western media is not blind. If ordinary people are increasingly able to see the truth regarding the situation in Palestine, experienced western journalists cannot possibly be blind to the truth. They know, but they choose to remain silent.

 The maxim that official Israeli propaganda or ‘hasbara’ is too savvy no longer suffices. In fact, it is hardly true.

Where is the ingenuity in the way the Israeli army explained the killing of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza?

“Yesterday we saw 30,000 people,” the Israeli army tweeted on March 31. “We arrived prepared and with precise reinforcements. Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.”

If that is not bad enough, Israel’s ultra-nationalist Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, followed that self-indictment by declaring there are “no innocent people in Gaza”; thus, legitimizing the targeting of any Gazan within the besieged Strip.

Unfair media coverage is not fueled by the simplistic notion of ‘clever Israel, imprudent Arabs’. Western media is actively involved in shielding Israel and enhancing its diminishing brand, while painstakingly demolishing the image of Israel’s enemies.

Take for example, Israel’s unfounded propaganda that Yasser Murtaja, the Gaza journalist who was killed in cold blood by an Israeli sniper while covering the Great March of Return protests at the Gaza border, was a member of Hamas.

First, ‘unnamed officials’ in Israel claimed that Yasser is ‘a member of the Hamas security apparatus.’ Then, Lieberman offered more (fabricated) details that Yasser was on Hamas’ payroll since 2011 and ‘held a rank similar to a captain.’ Many journalists took these statements and ran with them, constantly associating any news coverage of Yasser’s death with Hamas.

It turned out that, according to the US State Department, Yasser’s start-up media company in Gaza had actually received a small grant from USAID, which subjected Yasser’s company to a rigorous vetting process.

More still, a report by the International Federation of Journalist claimed that Yasser was actually detained and beaten by the Gaza police in 2015, and that Israel’s Defense Minister is engineering a cover-up.

Judging by this, Israel’s media apparatus is as erratic and self-defeating as North Korea; but this is hardly the image conveyed by western media, because it insists on placing Israel on a moral pedestal while misrepresenting Palestinians, regardless of the circumstances.

But there is more to western media’s approach to Palestine and Israel than shielding and elevating Israel, while demonizing Palestinians. Oftentimes, the media works to distract from the issues altogether, as is the case in Britain today, where Israel’s image is rapidly deteriorating.

To disrupt the conversation on Palestine, the Israeli Occupation and the British government’s unconditional support of Israel, British mainstream media has turned the heat on Jeremy Corbyn, the popular leader of the Labor Party.

Accusations of anti-Semitism has dogged the party since Corbyn’s election in 2015. Yet, Corbyn is not racist; on the contrary, he has stood against racism, for the working class and other disadvantaged groups. His strong pro-Palestine stance, in particular, is threatening to compel a paradigm shift on Palestine and Israel within the revived and energized Labor Party.

Sadly, Corbyn’s counter strategy is almost entirely absent. Instead of issuing a statement condemning all forms of racism and moving on to deal with the urgent issues at hand, including that of Palestine, he allows his detractors to determine the nature of the discussion, if not the whole discourse. He is now trapped in a perpetual conversation, while the Labor Party is regularly purging its own members for alleged anti-Semitism.

Considering that Israel and its allies in the media, and elsewhere, conflate between criticism of Israel and its Zionist ideology, on the one hand, and that of Jews and Judaism on the other, Corbyn cannot win this battle.

Nor are Israel’s friends keen on winning, either. They merely want to prolong a futile debate so that British society remains embroiled in distractions and spares Israel any accountability for its action.

If British media was, indeed, keen on calling out racism and isolating racists, why then is there little discussion on Israel’s racist policies targeting Palestinians?

Media spin will continue to provide Israel with the needed margins to carry out its violent policies against the Palestinian people, with no moral accountability. It will remain loyal to Israel, creating a buffer between the truth and its audiences.

It is incumbent on us to expose this sinister relationship and hold mainstream media to account for covering up Israel’s crimes, as well as Israel for committing these crimes in the first place.
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Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: http://www.ramzybaroud.net

18 April 2018


Mama Winnie honoured, at last


By Greg Nicolson• 14 April 2018
Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has left Orlando for the last time. Committing to her spirit of strength and defiance, speakers at her funeral on Saturday vowed to honour her legacy by fighting the many falsehoods that saw her sidelined.


The heavens opened and the rain started falling moments before SANDF officials raised Mama Winnie’s coffin, draped in the South African flag, to take her on her final journey.

Tens of thousands of mourners at Orlando Stadium rose to bid farewell to the Mother of the Nation.

Photo: Mourners gather at the Orlando Stadium to pay tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Photo: Leila Dougan.
Debate has raged over Madikizela-Mandela’s legacy since the 81-year-old passed away on 2 April in Johannesburg. The debates, and complexities of the struggle icon are set to continue. But on Saturday, her family and comrades used her funeral to both celebrate her enormous contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle and hit out against those who campaigned against her.

“It is difficult to accept that she is no longer with us,” cried her daughter Zenani Dlamini, “because she was always so strong.” Dlamini struggled to speak before giving a moving speech honouring the example her mother set for women. The crowd, which included former presidents Jacob Zuma, Kgalema Motlanthe and Thabo Mbeki, roared in approval.

Former president Jacob Zuma attends Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral. Photo: Leila Dougan.
“Long before it was fashionable to call for Nelson Mandela’s release from Robben Island it was my mother who kept his memory alive,” she said, thanking the many young women who have pledged solidarity with Madikizela-Mandela since her passing.

“Like her, you show that we can be beautiful, powerful and revolutionary, even as we challenge the lies that have been peddled for so long,” she said, referring to her mother being sidelined by the ANC and much of society for her radicalism.

Apartheid security agents have gone on the record revealing the extent of their propaganda campaign against Madikizela-Mandela. Her supporters have continued to correct claims that she was responsible for the 1989 death of Stompie Seipei. She also faced heavy criticism for her infidelity while married to former President Nelson Mandela, which her daughter said would have been ignored were she a man.

“As each of them disavowed these lies, I had to ask myself – why have they sat on the truth had wait until my mother’s death to tell it?” She warned the “hypocrites” who hid the truth and marginalised her mother. “Don’t think for a minute that we’ve forgotten,” she said. Madikizela-Mandela’s contribution to the struggle must be honoured as we rediscover her history, she added.

ANC supporters made up most of the crowd at the packed Orlando Stadium, but a significant number of EFF supporters attended the funeral. EFF leader Julius Malema, who was close to the political icon, said Stompie’s mother was in the audience as were Madikizela-Mandela’s critics who distanced themselves from her and the actions of her Mandela United Football Club.

EFF leader Julius Malema arrives at the Orlando stadium. Photo: Leila Dougan

“Sell-outs, we see you,” roared Malema. “We mention these instances just to make them aware, we know what they did to you,” he said, claiming her detractors were weeping while failing to acknowledge their actions. Malema said she asked him to return to the ANC but he responded, “But which ANC do we go to?”

President Cyril Ramaphosa apologised that it had taken so long for the ANC to honour Madikizela-Mandela. “I’m sorry mama that we delayed this much,” he said, delivering the eulogy. He said he would request the ANC to confer its highest honour on her.

“As we bid her farewell we are forced to admit that as Mama Winnie rose, she rose alone. Too often we were not there for her as she tried to rise,” he said. Recalling a recent conversation with her daughter Zenani Dlamini, he said she cried when she said her mother had lived a difficult life.

“Zenani’s tears revealed Mama Winnie’s wounds.”

“Mama Winnie’s life was about service, service to her people. It was a life of compassion,” said the president. Speaking on Madikizela-Mandela’s sustained activism while many ANC members were in prison or in exile, he said, “She felt compelled to pick up a spear that had fallen. It was a spear that throughout the darkest moments of our struggle she wielded with great courage.”

Ramaphosa said she defied apartheid ideology and male superiority. “She exposed the lie of apartheid.” He continued, “Yet through everything Mama Winnie endured they could not break her, they could not silence her.”

Responding to Malema, the president said, “The wounds you are talking about are real wounds but today is the time to heal those wounds.” Madikizela-Mandela had wanted him to visit Marikana, the site of the 2012 massacre, with Malema and Ramaphosa said he would go with the young firebrand “to heal the wounds”.

The funeral brought together political foes, the ANC and EFF and the stadium reverberated as they sang in praise of Ma’ Winnie, although most EFF supporters left after Malema’s speech. EFF leaders encouraged their members to act with discipline during the funeral.

EFF supporters join ANC members to pay tribute to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Photo: Leila Dougan

ANC politicians such as Gwede Mantashe, David Makhura, Bathabile Dlamini and Jeff Radebe also addressed the funeral that included performances by Thandiswa Mazwai, Zonke and Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse. Model Naomi Campbell was a surprise speaker.

Madikizela-Mandela was largely remembered for defiantly standing up to the apartheid government and relentlessly pushing the ANC’s struggle for freedom. She was persecuted by the government and suffered imprisonment, torture and banishment as she was the strongest ANC voice within the country during the struggle.

Grandson Zondwa Mandela spoke of everyday heroes and said her spirit lives on in women who strive to carve out a livelihood. “She was one of us. She was one of you. She was one of the people. She was just a woman who dared to survive.”

Family members, President Cyril Ramaphosa and dignitaries walk beside the casket of the late stalwart, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as it is led out of Orlando stadium. 14 April 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan

Madikizela-Mandela’s coffin left Orlando Stadium accompanied by a military parade for Fourways Memorial Park where she was due to be buried in a private ceremony next to her great-granddaughter Zenani Mandela.

The funeral procession leaves the Orlando Stadium. Photo: Leila Dougan.

Ramaphosa finished on Saturday: “She lives on in all of us. She inspires our actions. She guides our struggles. She remains our conscience. May her soul rest in eternal peace. May her spirit live forever.” DM

Main Photo: The casket carrying the body of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is led out of Orlando stadium as it begins to rain, on 14 April 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan

07 April 2018


CNN: Blaming the Palestinian Victim

Photo by Jonas Moffat | CC BY 2.0

As Palestinians continue to struggle under the heavy, deadly hand of U.S.-sponsored Israeli oppression, the world’s governments mainly ignore them. This is business as usual for most governments, including U.S. officials, many of whom are ‘PEP’ – Progressive Except for Palestine.
March 30 is Land Day in Palestine, a day commemorated annually to mark events first held in 1976, in response to a major land theft announced by Israel. This year, tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators camped and marched on the Palestinian side of the Palestine – Israel border, once again demanding the basic human rights that the world community has refused them. In response, Israeli snipers killed at least 18 unarmed Palestinians.

On April 1, CNN’s loftily titled ‘International Diplomatic Editor’, Nic Robertson, offered his pearls of wisdom on this situation. He wasted no time in both showing his ignorance of the current events, and his desire to blame the victim.

We will look at just a few quotations from his ill-informed editorial. We will start with the title of the article.

“The Timing of the Gaza Protest is No Coincidence.”

Is there anyone who is familiar with the situation in Palestine who thought it was a coincidence? The organizers were clear from the start: the demonstration would start on Land Day and continue to May 15, the day of the Nakba, or catastrophe, when, on that date in 1948, three-quarters of a million Palestinians were displaced from their homes, with no voice in the matter, no choice and no recompense. Does Robertson not know that this current protest was to be a major event, planned carefully to hopefully draw international attention to the plight of the Palestinians? Or did he, in his oh-so-insightful way, see that those crafty Palestinians were up to something, hidden from view but obvious to his particular brand of cleverness?

In this bizarre article. Roberson recognized that the scheduled end of the protest coincides with the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, something which the Palestinians and the vast majority of the world oppose. Said he, again demonstrating that particular intelligence that is clear throughout his article: “Given that Palestinians oppose this move, the timing of the protest is not likely a coincidence.” Right.

“Like so many battles of yesteryear, both sides arrive to this current field of conflict carrying a weight of historic grievances, armed with today’s political imperatives.”

Let’s look for a moment at some of these ‘historic grievances’. Palestinians were driven from their homes so the United Nations could establish the state of Israel.  Hundreds of ancient Palestinians villages were bulldozed, leaving not a trace. Sacred shrines and cemeteries received the same fate. Since that time, using the advanced weaponry that the U.S. provides to Israel, thousands of additional Palestinian men, women and children have been killed, arrested, illegally jailed, displaced, beaten, abused and disregarded by Israeli law. This is ongoing to this day.

On the other hand, Israel must contend with Palestinians throwing stones at its occupying soldiers, and occasionally even slapping one of them. Yes, as Robertson said, there are grievances on both sides.

“Israeli officials are convinced Hamas is challenging the status quo of Gaza’s limits and is ready to throw down civilian lives to achieve it.”

Yes, the murders of at least 18 unarmed Palestinians by Israeli snipers, and the injury to at least 700 more, injured with live ammunition, is all Palestine’s fault!

“In public statements before the confrontation, Israeli officials said an attack on the border fence is an attack on Israel’s sovereignty and pulled no punches on what a response could look like.”

Robertson neglects a few pertinent facts here, so we will inform him. The vast majority of the protesters were hundreds of yards away from the fence, ON PALESTINIAN LAND. Yet many were shot by Israeli snipers. To read Robertson’s words, one would think that hundreds or even thousands of Palestinians stormed the fence. Yes, a few dozen did approach the fence, but at all times they remained on Palestinian land. And, as mentioned earlier, some of the pesky Palestinians actually threw stones at the ‘brave’ Israeli snipers, who were heavily armed and outfitted against them. All this was happening while Israeli drones dropped tear gas on unarmed and defenseless Palestinians on their own land.

“To make their message clear, the Israel Defense Forces’ Arabic website posted a video of a young man being shot in the leg; it was accompanied by the caption: ‘This is what will happen to you if you try to get close to our border.’”

Robertson sees no problem with Palestinians being threatened for committing the ‘crime’ of being ‘close’ to the Israeli border. He did not choose to comment on that at all.

“It is hard to ignore the calculation on Hamas’s part that some of their protesters would get killed.”

Was this Hamas’ ‘calculation’, or an expectation, based on Hamas’, and the world’s, knowledge of the savagery of Israel? Robertson, like most U.S. government officials, seems to see Palestinians demanding equal rights from their apartheid oppressor as something that is ‘calculated’ by a scheming ‘terror’ organization.

In 2014, Robertson met with Khaled Meshaal Hamas’ political leader. In the current article, he says this: “He told me that Hamas does not seek international sympathy through its own victims. Today, that notion is increasingly questioned amid criticism that the group is once again sacrificing civilians for political gain.”

Once again, he is blaming the victim. The government of Gaza is right to encourage its citizens to peacefully demonstrate for their rights. The government of Israel is in violation of international law by shooting them and tear-gassing them. Yet it is the Palestinians in whom Robertson sees culpability.

It has been some time since this writer has seen such a blatantly one-sided, biased article about Palestinian’s struggles on a ‘mainstream’ news site. Generally, although Israel is usually seen as defending its ‘national security’, there is usually some bone thrown to Palestinian aspirations for peace, freedom and human rights. But CNN’s ‘International Diplomatic Editor’ was content to find fault only with the Palestinians, a people who have been brutally oppressed by Israel for decades.

Thankfully, Robertson is in the minority, although it is far more than a shame that he is given a national audience. The unspeakable injustices committed against the Palestinians seem to not only continue, but also increase, as more of the world stands up to Israel. Eventually, however, justice will prevail; it’s tragic that so many innocent Palestinians must suffer and die before that occurs.
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Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

30 March 2018


Dear Steve,

I am not a cricket fan and do not watch cricket and, at 91, I never have.

However, I am a South African, and still, after 40 years in Australia, retain close links with South Africa, politically, socially and in several other ways.

I am very aware of what goes on in that country as I keep a close watch on affairs there, and at the moment in Australia, apart from the cricket matches being played there, we also have the spectacle that one of the cabinet ministers in Australia has made an arse of himself with his comments about white South African farmers. This of course is another long political story about which much more time should be spent by the media in telling the truth about affairs in South Africa instead of all the cricket affairs going on.

The disgraceful behaviour of the media in relation to yourself when you arrived back in Australia from South Africa is a scandal, and the media need to be severely sanctioned about their behaviour in relation to how you were treated and humiliated by them on your arrival in Sydney. I used to think that the ABC was above this sort of behaviour, but of course these days the media does what the government wants it to do and that, too is another national disgrace.

Peter Dutton was not sanctioned by Malcolm Turnbull, nor by Julie Bishop, and it shows what racists they all are. When it comes to cricket and what happened on the field in Newlands is a mere dot on the scale of the disgrace about Dutton and white South African farmers.

It should have been Dutton who should have gone to South Africa and brought his white farmers back here with him, together with the Australian cricket team. Alternatively, he should have stayed there and helped to keep the white farmers safe - by his standards and brought his security personnel with him to take over affairs in South Africa.

What a joke, what a farce, what a tragedy the whole set of affairs is.

My sympathy to you Steve for the abominable behaviour of the media in Australia - it is unforgivable!

20 March 2018


Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott must be two of the most ignorant racists in Australia and it proves beyond doubt - not that there was very much doubt before - that the award of Rhodes scholarships is absolutely meaningless, much as many Nobel prizes are.

In their ignorance - and racism - they have absolutely no idea about life in South Africa, let alone white South African farmers and who do they think is going to support their hair-brained scheme to get white farmers out of South Africa  and bring them to Australia to resettle them here.

The genocide of Abbott and Dutton in Australia continues apace, and if they think they will be able to create genocidal conditions in South Africa, they should think again.

Dutton has already been given too much power by Turnbull, who has shown that he is just as racist as his colleagues but does it all in a more subdued and subtle way.

Apartheid has always been alive and  well in Australia, but Dutton and Abbott have just provided it with a new layer - interfering in the affairs of other countries.     South Africa is a very complex country with a very complex society, and both Dutton and Abbott will be in serious trouble if they start interfering in  the affairs of other countries.

Of course they are well practised with that as well, if you consider all the wars they have joined in where the affairs of other countries had nothing to do with Australia.

The cartoonist Zapiro in South Africa has cartoons regularly published in the online journal Daily Maverick from South Africa - an excellent paper actually - and some of Zapiro's cartoons over the years have been on a par with Tandberg's in Australia.

The cartoon below, by Zapiro, was published on 20 MARCH 2018 in the Daily Maverick and hits the jackpot:

The Peter Dutton one reads: "2018 Australia's PETER DUTTON - FAST TRACK VISAS FOR WHITE S.A. FARMERS".

18 March 2018


I am depressed and embarrassed to say I am Australian

  • Greg Nicolson
Home Affairs Minister Dutton is ready to accept white South African farmers before immigrants from a real war zone like Syria, rejecting doctors and engineers in favour of whites who might be able to till the land. I want to offer complexities, but I can't. The Australian minister is racist and confirmed every South African suspicion about my home country.
There are two common questions people ask when they decode my accent. They take a second and then ask me where I'm from. I pronounce Austraya as “Australia”, but still pronounce aunt as “ant” rather than “aren't”. 
Why did you come here when so many people are trying to go there?” white South Africans often ask after I tell them I'm not from New Zealand or, shudder, England. 
Isn't Australia racist? Didn't you kill all the Aboriginals?” black South Africans sometimes ask. Most people don't care or wait until the third beer before moving on from asking, “So, what do you do?”
The first question is easy. I explain how I moved to Johannesburg and stayed for both love and laziness, a love for the city and the partners I've been fortunate enough to meet, and laziness to pack up my apartment and try somewhere else.

The second, on racism, is more difficult. “Yeah,” I grimace.
I think of my family and friends in Melbourne and want to discuss the complexities of systemic racism in Australia. I want to mention those I know who are at least welcoming and the few who tirelessly fight for equality.
As many times as I want to say “not all of us”, the conclusion is the same. The idea of Australia can't be separated from racism. We preach “a fair go” but far too often think that those who don't conform to the ill-defined and crude myths of what it means to be “Australian” should “go back to where you came from”.
When Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton made his comments this week, I thought about Australians at home and abroad. We're law abiding, scared of committing minor crimes, but we grew up with an anti-authority independence, allowing us to travel the world and master planking. But we're not good listeners; we're poor public speakers. Our fragility means we become defensive when challenged and struggle to listen to an opposing argument.
Dutton said white South African farmers deserve special attention because of the hardships they face due to farm attacks and land expropriation. His department is investigating fast-tracking humanitarian or other visas to get them to Australia.
If you look at the footage and read the stories, you hear the accounts, it’s a horrific circumstance they face,” he said. “We want people who want to come here, abide by our laws, integrate into our society, work hard, not lead a life on welfare. And I think these people deserve special attention and we’re certainly applying that special attention now.”
I want to offer complexities, but I can't. He wants white people. The Australian minister is racist and confirmed every South African suspicion. 
Let them go,” laughed some of my black South African friends after hearing Dutton's comments. In 2016, Statistics SA said 26% of South Africans emigrating from the country moved to Australia, more than the UK, US and New Zealand.
Local comedian Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show in the US, has mocked white South Africans fearing political instability. “Every since our first democratic elections in 1994, Nelson Mandela was about to become president, people started panicking,” goes the joke.
There were people, you'd hear them: 'I'm leaving! I'm going to Australia. I'm going. It's been fun, Mary, but it's time to go, hey. It's time to go. They're going to take over now',” Noah says in a white woman's accent, describing what everyone has heard.
Most South Africans who moved to Australia were able to because of the money and skills they inherited from apartheid and colonial privileges. For decades, if not centuries, the best properties, jobs and education opportunities were reserved for whites.
Some white South Africans have been pushing to be accepted as refugees. There was a petition to allow whites to return to Europe. One South African was accepted as a refugee in Canada, claiming he was persecuted by blacks, before that was revoked. Another family were rejected for spreading “white-supremacist hate literature”. Supposedly, 12 South Africans have received humanitarian visas from Australia in the last five years but it's unclear who and for what.
Dutton's comments follow a sustained campaign by white interest groups bluntly trying to convince the world that the murder of white farmers in South Africa amounts to “genocide”. Groups like Afriforum, a powerful and well-funded organisation established to defend the interests of Afrikaners, have for years fought to protect local white interests.
I didn't know whether to respond when my cousin posted the article this weekend on Facebook. Is it even worth trying to explain the most complex society I have experienced to people who want to see things in black and white, to those who might have heard the names Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, but have no idea of the debates over their legacies?
I have a duty, the South African in me said, post your comment. The Australian said I should shut up, don't rock the boat. In all things discourse, I've learnt to choose the South African side. It's a country divided that has perfected controversial discussion.
The Daily Telegraph, an Australian paper owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, published a horrifying feature detailing attacks on white South African farmers. The piece described assaults, robberies, murders and rapes suffered by farmers.
Farmers feel under attack, probably because of their race; their land is about to be expropriated without compensation, and they should be granted asylum in Australia, went the thesis. It provided an insight into the minds of those who closed highways to highlight farm attacks. The piece said more about the farmers and the article's Australian audience than South Africa.
Come to Mzansi. There are a few things you learn pretty quickly. The Daily Telegraph's journalist appears to have spent so much time with Afriforum that he didn't notice black people make up the large majority of the population.
His article used scary quotes from Julius Malema and Black First, Land First, but didn't feature a single interview from a black South African. Not a farm worker, a black farm owner, a politician. Not one black South African, even though whites only account for 9% of the population here.
The brutality is almost unheard of. There should be a special allowance for people who are the victims of these crimes,” Erns Hattingh, who had moved to Sydney, was quoted as saying.
In a country so divided, you also learn that statistics are debatable. The article repeats Afriforum's figures on farm murders as fact, which fact-checking website Africa Check has consistently said are unreliable.
Dangerous crime in South Africa is a reality, one that we all live with. In Australia we might talk over a BBQ. In South Africa, a braai.
The Australian journalist took statistics cooked over a braai and made them a national topic. There's no factual basis to say white farmers face a higher crime rate than other South Africans. They might be a target for violent crime because they are isolated and are assumed to own guns, but if Australians care about crime here they can read any newspaper, any day, and learn the reality.
The unreliable data Australian pundits are using, in fact, includes black people killed on farms. The hack, Paul Toohey, either didn't bother to find out the facts or interview any black farmers or farm workers. He didn't mention whether black South African farmers are going through the same experience, or whether most South Africans according to the stats, should also qualify for humanitarian visas in Australia.
The last time Australians really cared about South Africa was during the Oscar Pistorius trial. It was weird to see them lined up, their biases on display. Tragically, such brutal killings happen every day here and white farmers are no exception.
Sympathy, for who, for what, we might say. The article mentions the coffin case, where racist white farmers forced a black victim into a coffin and threatened to set it on fire. But it was only cited as a setback for the white movement. Few farm attacks on whites involve a political or racial motive, but a simple Google search will reveal the racially motivated attacks perpetrated by whites on blacks.
Why all the focus on the article published by The Daily Telegraph? Days after it was released, a journalist from the same newspaper asked Dutton about white farmers receiving a special deal, or “jumping the queue” as Australians like to say.

 That's when Dutton embraced his racism.
They are following the Zimbabwean path,” said the Liberal Party's Bronwyn Bishop. During colonialism and apartheid whites violently took land from blacks. The democratic government, led by Nelson Mandela, committed to transferring land, still largely owned by whites, to black South Africans. Due to poor policies and failed implementation, the government failed.
Parliament recently decided to explore whether the Constitution needs an amendment to allow land expropriation to occur without compensation. A myriad political factors are involved and the issues are still being debated. What's key is that South Africa didn't seek to punish whites or seek reparations after apartheid.
Instead, it favoured “reconciliation”. White South Africans still own the majority of the land, the wealth, and on average take the top jobs. Just imagine Australia being controlled by a minority who invaded the country. How would you feel? Try telling Jewish people that the Nazis weren't so bad.
Australia's Bishop said Mandela's legacy is dead. Yet Mandela's chosen successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, is now President of the country. Unlike Zimbabwe, South Africa has legitimate elections and no leader has served beyond their mandated term. 

Corruption might be rife, but the country's institutions established to defend democracy have often proved their independence. Otherwise most of my colleagues would be in jail by now.
The issues are heated. Black and white South Africans regularly use vulgarities against each other, but the Equality Court calls both to order and takes action against hate speech, against any race.
I wonder if my Australian compatriots care or whether they remain in their zero-sum game, both left and right believing they're the champions of the world while taking far fewer refugees than most countries. Germany has survived, despite opening its borders to migrants (read: black migrants), so why can't we?
Australia has been condemned by every international agency that matters for outsourcing the processing of asylum seekers to nearby islands dependent on our funding. Dutton is ready to accept white South African farmers before immigrants from a real war zone like Syria, rejecting doctors and engineers in favour of whites who might be able to till the land.
What must I answer now? The Liberal Party might be trying to appease a certain demographic, but its stance is clearly racist. Multiple Australian governments have failed to acknowledge what they have done to indigenous nations,
Before trying to give well-off South Africans a pass, Dutton should should try to resolve the inequality between white Australians and those of the First Nations.
 He must take Australia out of its pariah status in the international community and treat asylum seekers with respect.
Australia treats black and white migrants differently. I'm going home in the next week with my black South African girlfriend. I'm scared. Will someone shout at her on the street? Where are the white racist elements who recently protested?
I feel depressed to say they're with Dutton. Like other white countries around the world, Australia will never embrace “multiculturalism” unless it means conforming to whiteness. This week makes me embarrassed to say I'm Australian.

Greg Nicolson

16 March 2018


Peter Dutton, as ever, doesn't know what he is talking about, and his racism does a great disservice to the government he is supposedly part of. I thought, in my innocence, that Julie Bishop was the foreign minister and Malcolm Turnbull was the prime minister, and it was therefore their portfolios which dictated foreign policy.

Dutton, of course, knows nothing about South Africa and its history, and why should he anyway when he is a minister in a racist apartheid state anyway.

What is pathetic is that he is offering white South African farmers a haven in Australia - many white South African and Zimbabwean (Rhodesian) farmers came to live in Australia to escape their black countries and to live in apartheid Australia anyway.

It is rather pathetic at a time in world history where there is so much upheaval and we have so much room to give people sanctuary from murderous regimes that when some of these people fleeing manage to get to Australia, this government sends them back to the countries they escaped from where they are more than likely to lose their lives, because - and wait for it - they are black, or brown, or some other colour which is not white.

Apartheid is odious, and as a South African who grew up in apartheid South Africa, lived there for 51 years, and then came to live in apartheid Australia for the last 40 years, thinking I had escaped apartheid in South Africa, only to discover it was very much alive and well and living in Australia, and now at 91 I am too old to go anywhere.

Australia being an apartheid state supports other apartheid states such as Israel, the USA, the UK and others because they have to support white regimes.

Dutton wishes to control Australia and become a petty dictator, and it is time Malcolm Turnbull shut him up. He is divisive and cruel and does harm at every turn. He needs to be removed from his position in the cabinet instead of having his portfolio going from strength to strength.

Enough is enough!

The following letters were in The Age newspaper on 16 March 2018:

Refugees: Tamils, living here as second-class citizens

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has offered to "fast track" applications from white farmers in South Africa to resettle in Australia. This seems a generous act which recognises that they are being murdered at the rate of one a week and are in danger of having their land confiscated. But how do we explain Mr Dutton's feelings for these white South Africans compared with his feelings for the darker skinned, Sri Lankan Tamils who also face deprivation of their land, torture and murder? Members of this group live as second-class citizens in Australia, in daily fear of the "KGB-style", 5am knock on their doors, and forced repatriation at the hands of our government to whatever fate awaits them.
Geraldine Moore, Bayside Refugee Advocacy & Support Association, Hampton

Illustration: Jim Pavlidis

Varying degrees of who deserves our protection

We keep asylum seekers languishing in offshore detention, turn a blind eye to Syrian refugees who are trapped in protracted unrest and fear, yet offer to fast track white, South African farmers. This is a new low for Peter Dutton and our standing as a society.
Lisa Blanch, North Balwyn

Illustration: Matt Golding

The Rohingya aren't white like the South Africans

Peter Dutton is keen to offer visas to white South African farmers who are facing violence and land seizures. What about the Rohingya farmers who also facing violence and land seizures? But they are not white, are they?
Tony Harris, Ocean Grove

Our double standard on who is an 'over stayer'

Let me get this right. A Tamil, asylum-seeking couple with two Australian-born children, residents for five years in a Queensland country town, are arrested in the dead of night and locked up to await forcible deportation, despite having received an assurance of renewed visas (Comment, 14/3). Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people on student and tourist visas "over stay" but are left in peace. It is gob-smacking. Bill Shorten, where are you?
Jill Sanguinetti, East Brunswick

Please, Minister, show us your human side for once

Dear Peter Dutton. With all respect, I must tell you that I am very worried about you. You must be extremely unhappy. Whenever you are plotting yet another drastic intervention, such as the one with the Tamil family this week, it must be so hard to sleep at night. Your actions, attitudes, and – here is that word again – values are disturbing and un-Australian. They are also inhumane. How these things must trouble you, as you reflect on the despair that you create in the lives of those who are already deeply traumatised.

I have an idea that might help you, sir. Did you know that a single act of compassion can put you in touch with your own humanity? No? Well, it really can. Many Australians yearn, indeed, pray for the day when you will try that simple thing. Just for once, show us the compassionate Peter Dutton.
Jacob de Ridder, Rosanna

Many of us will not look away from this cruelty

How did it come to this ("Family's treatment is our shame")? And who carries out these instructions from the government? Peter Dutton, how can you ask Australian citizens to behave in such cruel and insensitive ways? Thank you, Clementine Ford. We will not look away.
Geoff and Gillian Senior, Camperdown

Dutton's warped set of priorities

Peter Dutton offers white South Africans, who might lose their farms, safe haven, but blocks legitimate refugees who might lose their lives. It is good to see that he has his priorities sorted.
Jack Morris, Kennington


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90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm