Tuesday, May 10, 2011

South Africa, Hamas-PLO Reconciliation And Gilad Shalit

This letter from Maurice Ostroff to the South African Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Mr. Ismail Coovadia may also be viewed at http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id338.html. That site also contains the statement by the South African government welcoming and supporting the efforts of the Hamas and Fatah terrorists to set up a transitional unity government. The letter is posted here with the permission of the author.

May 9, 2011

Dear Ambassador Coovadia,

I thank you for sending me a copy of the statement by the South African government on the rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas and I enthusiastically endorse the sentiment expressed "we urge all Palestinian factions to unite behind a reformed Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) so as to carry forward the hopes and aspirations of all Palestinians for freedom, self-determination and human dignity".

I believe you will agree that Israel and the Palestinians can gain from studying South Africa's successful bloodless transition and that the united PLO-Hamas government to which you refer would make a giant step towards peace if it adopted a new combined charter based on the the ANC's Freedom Charter.

Unfortunately the hate-filled PLO and Hamas covenants bear no similarity at all to the ANC Charter which states “South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation - not war”. By stark contrast, the Hamas charter declares that there is absolutely no room for peaceful negotiation. Article 13 unambiguously states so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences contradict its principles and are a waste of time since there is no solution to the Palestinian problem except jihad; such conferences are used by the infidels to prevail over Muslim land.

The imaginative irrationality of the Hamas concept, so different from the sober tone of the ANC Charter, is illustrated by obsessive phobia about and promises to obliterate freemasons, rotary clubs, Lions and similar organizations. They are accused of everything from control of the world media, stirring the French Revolution, the Communist revolution, World War I and even of forming the League of Nations. They are alleged to have been behind World War II, and instigating replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council. It is difficult to believe that these fanciful ideas are actually written in the Hamas charter.

I believe you will confirm sir, that this type of irrationality has no place in ANC thinking. Nor would the ANC tolerate the type of incitement to violence which has been emanating for years from the mosques and PA controlled media and taught in schools from the earliest age.

And now with great respect sir, I suggest a confidence building measure that could create an immediate atmosphere of goodwill and encourage serious negotiations towards peace. Putting political considerations aside for the moment in favor of plain humanity,I suggest that in accordance with the concern for human dignity inherent in the ANC Charter and its noble aspirations, it would be fitting if the government of the Rainbow Nation would insist that as a condition of its support, Hamas must immediately end the savage torture of their prisoner Gilad Shalit and his family; an unbearable torture that has continued 24 hours per day, 7days a week for nearly five years in flagrant violation of human decency, international law and the Geneva convention.

I am calling merely for compliance with the Third Geneva Convention that provides for humane treatment and the right to unfettered access to the Red Cross, as well as the right to send and receive monthly letters and cards. Even the Nazis respected this provision for prisoners of war, but not only does Hamas deny these rights to Shalit, they have held him incommunicado for the entire period of his incarceration.

By way of contrast, Palestinian prisoners in Israel enjoy visitation rights, including conjugal visits, access to telephones, newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, lawyers' visits and even academic studies at state expense.

The continued mental torture of Shalit’s family compounds the crime immeasurably. What greater torture can there be than tormenting parents with unrelenting continuous anxiety for nearly five years about whether their son is dead, or if alive, in what condition?

The Shalit family continues to live this horrendous nightmare, not knowing if Gilad is dead or alive and fearing that he is possibly being tortured. To compound the heinous crime, Hamas held a public rally during which a boy dressed in IDF uniform masqueraded as Gilad Shalit reading a letter in Hebrew, telling the jeering crowd, how he misses his parents. No human being with a conscience can refuse to protest this diabolical cruelty.

As mental torture is included in the UN ban on torture, the politicians dealing with Hamas cannot ignore the deliberate torture of Gilad’s family. Clearly acts of torture are violations of both International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law. Amnesty International describes every act of torture as a crime under international law.

Article 1 of the UN “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” defines torture as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person….” and a study by scientists published on March 6, 2007 in “News in Science” describes mental torture as bad as physical.

South Africa's intervention in this humanitarian matter would be greatly appreciated by the entire civilized world and it would certainly contribute to an atmosphere of trust and goodwill, so essential to meaningful negotiations towards a peaceful settlement.

I will be very grateful if you will kindly forward a copy of this email to President Zuma.


Maurice Ostroff

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