Rebuttal article for the Daily Maverick

Oscar van Heerden (Daily Maverick 24 January 2019, We owe Palestinians our support) shows a level of obtuseness that defines his entire article and world view. He plays fast and loose with the facts when it comes to Palestinian terror and Israel’s response.

Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East in which its 20% Arab minority occupy positions at the pinnacle of Israeli society, sit on Israel’s Supreme Court, have been elected to Israel’s parliament, fight in the Israeli Defence Forces and partake in every facet of Israeli society.

Why is van Heerden impelled to use certain emotionally charged words when describing Israel’s defensive action against attacks by a rabid mob hell bent on the slaughter of innocents? What kind of twisted logic would allow untruths to be dredged up as fact? For example that the Israelis would deliberately attack and “decimate” Palestinians, while across the length and breadth of Israel dedicated doctors in Israeli hospitals every day save the lives of scores of Palestinians who flood there for medical care and help.

Since June 2016 Israel has worked to keep starvation away from thousands of Syrians and provide basic medical treatment to those who cannot access it in their war ravaged country. over 600 Syrian children, accompanied by their mothers, have come to Israel for treatment. 

Syria’s Assad slaughters 500,000 of his own people, including tens of thousands Palestinians, and van Heerden proposes that Israel should subject its civilians to the same fate.

Israel is accused by van Heerden of racism; if you’re looking for institutionalised racism, go next door to the Palestinian territories where its Christians seek safety in Israel and  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the true apartheid perpetrator, has always asserted that a future Palestinian state must be “Judenrein”.

He invokes the Declaration of Human Rights and the Freedom Charter but never pauses to shine a light on the culpability of those he champions.

Some of the world’s worst human rights violators, who routinely praise Abbas and vilify Israel, sit on the UN Human Rights Council, even though these regimes systematically violate virtually every article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Kofi Annan, when the Secretary General, acknowledged openly that countries had sought membership in the U.N.’s highest human rights body not to strengthen human rights, but “to protect themselves against criticism or to criticise others.”

For example, China used the Council to praise Saudi Arabia where 53 Ethiopian Christians were arrested for praying in a private home, for its “religious tolerance.” The next day, Saudi Arabia praised China for “progress” in “ethnic minority regions,” despite China trampling the rights of the people of Tibet.

The persistant target is Israel; a democracy that ranks very high among the freest countries in the world.

A recently published report by the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria (AGPS), documented 3,840 cases of Palestinians, among the over 500,000 Syrian deaths since the onset of the civil war in 2011 – nearly four times as many as those killed in defensive action during the six years of the first intifada (December 1987-September 1993). The causes of death by Syrian forces ranged from artillery shelling, to shootings, to poison gas, to torture in the regime’s infamous prisons across the country.

In addition to this report, the Syrian regime released for the first time a list of names that included 548 killed Palestinians who died as a result of being tortured, starved, and deprived of adequate medical treatment.

The AGPS also said that 1,682 Palestinians are still missing, their fates unknown. According to some assessments, these Palestinians were either killed at some time during the bloody civil war or – “in the best case” – are still in prison. Therefore, at least 5,522 Palestinians have either been killed or have gone missing since 2011. About this van Heerden is silent.

The equation is plain to see: When Israel or the Jews can’t be blamed for killing Arabs, it’s not interesting. This calumny harks back to Nazi Germany. True racists are being sanitised.

When a Hamas terrorist from Gaza is killed by IDF soldiers while trying to plant a roadside bomb or trying to breach the border fence, the Arab world, and Oscar van Heerden are apopleptic. The Arab League issues its familiar condemnation; the consistently hostile Kuwait denounces Israel at the UN and tries to convene the Security Council; Abbas requests international protection for the Palestinians.

When Palestinians are killed by other Arabs, evidently no one except Israel cares – not in the Arab world, not by van Heerden and not even among the Palestinians themselves. Everyone is silent. This leads to the rational conclusion that these hypocrites care nothing for the lives and status of Palestinians, they concern themselves only with delegitimising and defaming Israel, and in doing so will resort to the most egregious falsehoods that the human mind can invent.

Where is the outcry from van Heerden, global media, rights groups, Palestinian and Arab politicians, who set out to portray Israeli soldiers as child murderers? Where is their denunciation of Syrian President Assad’s war crimes against the Palestinians, or Iran’s murderous discrimination against women and homosexuals?


Freedom House, an independent research organisation that evaluates countries throughout the world and apportions a percentage score in accordance with each country’s human rights performances, reveals that  Israel, (79%)  despite facing constant terrorism, ranks above every country in the Middle East and North Africa, with Syria scoring a low of minus-one and Jordan a high of 37%. Israel’s record is better than South Africa’s (78%) and just behind the USA (86%).

Israel is one of the smallest nations in the world – yet it has a massive positive impact on global health, food and water security, disaster relief and the economies of developing and developed countries.

Perhaps when Oscar van Heerden next consigns his prejudices to writing, he would confine his remarks to verifiable and unimpeachable sources.

Oh, and For van Heerden’s elucidation, hatred is not taught to Israeli children: but tolerance, love and respect for all.