Leon’s defence of Israel a spurious claim of victimhood

04 April 2021 - 00:00 By Ziyad Motala

In an opinion piece in last week’s  Sunday Times entitled “Israel a handy alibi for SA’s poor foreign policy (https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/opinion-and-analysis/2021-03-28-israel-a-handy-alibi-for-sas-poor-foreign-policy/)”, Tony Leon, the erstwhile leader of the DA, pulled every trick in the apartheid playbook to criticise solidarity with the Palestinian cause. He began by misappropriating the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has never shied away from an opportunity to condemn Israeli apartheid and demand full dignity and human rights for the Palestinian people.                              

He then engaged in the predictable  “whataboutery”, highlighting that human rights abuses occur throughout the world and Israel bears the brunt of SA’s attacks. In doing so he showed a lack of understanding as to why South Africans, emerging from the horrors of apartheid, care about Palestine. There is a context that makes certain societies particularly sensitive to particular causes. Germany is acutely sensitive to anti-Semitism, and rightly so, because of its history...

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