The Israeli government sustains its occupation of Palestine with fear. Fear of the Palestinian ‘demographic threat’. Fear of Iran. Fear of ISIS. This siege mentality - so reminiscent of the tactics employed by the South African Apartheid regime to sow fear into the white population - manifested itself most clearly during the ANC’s recent hosting of Hamas’s political leadership in South Africa.
Taken straight out of the swart gevaar handbook, various statements denouncing the Hamas presence in South Africa issued by the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the Freedom Front Plus, as well as the US-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) all featured the word “terrorist”, and described how Hamas was - according to its Charter - sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state, and completely opposed to negotiations.
The statements were ridiculous when it was plain to see that Hamas had clearly moved away from its 1988 Charter. Throughout the four-day visit to South Africa, Misha’al spoke at length about an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, based on 1967 borders, with the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Hamas had committed itself to a just political solution – not merely a “two-state solution” where a Palestinian ‘mini-state’ has its major cities cut off from each other, its government unable to control its own water resources, develop its agriculture, or manage its trade with neighbouring states.
In a joint statement, Mary Kluk and Ben Swartz of the SAZF and SAJBD again invoked the Hamas Charter, claiming that “the core ideology of Hamas is underpinned by a rabid hatred of the Jewish people.” Yet, on the day the statement was issued, Misha’al was scheduled to meet progressive Jewish groups in Johannesburg. “The problem is not Judaism or Jews, it is the occupation,” Misha’al said repeatedly during interviews.
According to Misha’al, the Hamas Charter is no longer a true expression of the movement’s overall vision, and does not reflect the current thinking of the movement. Hamas does not even use the Charter on its website and uses its election manifesto, and more recent documents, to describe its overall vision and objectives. For Israel’s apologists, however, Hamas has not gone far enough, and they demand that the movement formally abrogates the Charter.