Guest Post: Cosatu, Zionism, And The Jews of South Africa.


The following guest post was written by Steve, who can be found on Twitter here.

Strikes and, more to the point, violent strikes, are nothing new to South Africa. Yet the last few weeks, even by SA standards, have been especially turbulent.

On October 5th, Anglo American Platinum fired 12,000 illegally striking miners. Over 40 people were massacred in the now infamous “Lonmin Massacre.” Fuel supplies ran out and supermarkets shelves were emptier by the day due to striking truck drivers. Shell SA declared “Force Majeure” indemnifying them of their obligations to deliver fuel to the relevant retailers. Drivers defying the strike were intimidated and one paid with his life after being struck by a brick to the head. City Press, a leading local Newspaper Recently ran the banner “Strike Nation.” You get the picture.

Now without assigning responsibility to COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) directly (many of the strikes were illegal or “Wildcat” strikes), Cosatu is THE face of South African trade unions, with over 2 million members. At its helm is their charismatic Secretary-General Zwelinzima Vavi (@Zwelinzima1 on Twitter), THE face of South African Trade Unions.

Or is he? Amid all the chaos and mayhem, he had/has the capacity to, if not solve, definitely influence his mass of followers. Now taking the aforementioned into account, Mr Vavi still found the time to take a few days off. No, not for a well-deserved (if extremely ill-timed) break with family and friends, but to go and make his and Cosatu’s presence felt at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in New York.

During his short speech at the tribunal he made some of the following points

  • After hearing the testimonies of people from South Africa and Palestine during the previous Russell Tribunal in Cape Town, he came to the “correct” conclusion that Israel is practicing Apartheid against the people of Palestine
  • The “Apartheid” in Israel is worse than the Apartheid of old South Africa ( I suggest he take a walk around the various university campuses, visit the Supreme Court etc. should he ever bother to go to Israel)
  • Israel’s wall is an Apartheid wall (obviously not for security)
  • Israel used chemical weapons (I take it he is talking about the white phosphorus used as a smoke-screen, the type  allowed under International Law )
  • Israel is attempting to drive Palestinians out of Israel/Territories (population increase)
  • “The people of Palestine are crying, hear their cry”

Now I could go and dissect his various conclusions one by one and show the full results of recent independent polls by the Palestinian An-Najah University in which 72.1% of Palestinians, unlike himself, reject a one-state solution. Instead, allow me to give you a small example of COSATU’S Pro-Palestinian and (yes) anti-Israel bias :

Patrick Craven, Cosatu’s spokesperson and close confidante of Zwelinzima Vavi, recently wrote a letter urging a local Church to not participate in a pro-Israel march. Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Warren Goldstein, in an open response to that letter, stated that “the tone and content of his letter exceeded the boundaries of fair and decent political discourse”. He continued by saying that “a court of law could find that parts, if not all, of the letter constitutes hate speech”. The Letter by Mr Craven was filled with distortions of truth and factual inaccuracies in a blatant attempt to defame Israel and the South African Jewish Community.

Some of the more serious Allegations made by Mr Craven were:

  • The South African Zionist Federation’s hands are “Dripping with the blood of our brothers and sisters in Palestine”
  • Mr Craven believes that Zionism is an “expression of Jewish racial superiority exercised at the expense of the non-Jewish world in general, and the Palestinians in particular”
  • The Israeli “occupation and theft of the land and it’s natural resources” from the indigenous people is nothing but a legalization of Jewish supremacy in order to “further dehumanize everyone outside their scope of Zionist purity”
  • Zionism refers to those who” believe in a state exclusively for the ruling supremacists at the expense of the indigenous Palestinian people because they view themselves as ordained by G”d to do all it takes to defend their privileged position”

As Chief Rabbi Goldstein correctly stated, Mr Craven’s letter serves to propagate, under the guise of anti-Zionism, one of the vilest anti-Semitic canards that Jews regard non-Jews with contempt and will stop at nothing to advance themselves at their expense. This is a gross distortion of the theological concept of Jewish “Chosen-ness” characterizing it as an expression of Jewish racial superiority.

Tellingly, there was never any real response by Craven or Cosatu to the Rabbi’s open letter except for this little gem,  which can be summed up in one word: “Noted.” However it is with this disturbingly biased mind-set that Mr Vavi set off for New York to partake in the anti-Israel hate fest known as The Russell Tribunal. I’m sure he found himself in good, like-minded company there. Unfortunately for us Zionists/Jews in South Africa, this is the contempt and hate we deal with from Cosatu on a regular basis.

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