21 August 2013
Why Israel? A question that constantly confronts co-authors of a pioneering new study, Suraya Dadoo and Dr Firoz Osman, from Zionists, apologists and people who defend the Israeli state. It is a response all the more common in the wake of the publicity and success garnered by the international call to boycott and divest from Apartheid Israel. For the two seasoned media commentators, Why Israel is their painstaking response.
The pair have worked together for the last 10 years at the Media Review Network (MRN), Dadoo as a researcher and Osman, since it’s inception in 1996, as an executive member. About four years ago they recognised the need “to have some kind of literature for South Africans about Israel and Palestine” that examines how and why Apartheid applies to the situation there.
“I think this book has answered that question as comprehensively and emphatically as possible. That’s what the book means for us. It’s a comprehensive answer to any questions that Zionists would have,” explains Dadoo.
The authors have received dozens of positive reviews from prominent figures around the world as evident in the book, as well as on social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook when the book was released in June.
“That kind of reaction from strangers, people who live thousands of kilometres away from us, it makes all the hard work of the last four years very much worth it,” says Dadoo, “Clearly it’s affected people, it’s a book that’s well received … not just in terms of numbers but in terms of the diversity of the people. Naturally negative reactions have also been received from Israeli supporters.”
Both Dadoo and Osman are not full time writers and say the book was mostly written at night and required much global travel. They experienced few hiccups and even managed to secure entry into Israel. Dadoo however admits that they never expected it to be as easygoing once the book was published.
“My co-author and I are well aware of the dangers and implications of speaking out against Israel so strongly. Whatever may come our way we’re quite prepared to deal with it. MRN as a whole has consistently been expressing these views. Why Israel basically reflects MRN’s views over the last 17 years that we’ve been in existence.”
In Dadoo’s view Why Israel is different from previous academic exposes’ of Israeli Apartheid because it makes accessible expert academic analysis, online commentaries, articles and blogs of well-known and highly-respected Palestinian activists and human rights organisations, as well as reports from a wide range of Palestinian and Israeli NGO’s.
Despite the volume of research, the information remains user friendly as the book is separated into appropriate chapters that convey the complexities of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.
“In order to understand Israeli Apartheid and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict you need to know about the origins of the conflict, you need to know about Apartheid within the occupied territories or you need to know about BDS or the one state or two state solutions. It’s impossible to understand the larger conflict without having knowledge of all these smaller issues that make it up so that’s really what it is a whole lot of puzzle pieces that we’ve tried to put together.”
Why a South African perspective of Zionist Apartheid is important, Dadoo says, is because there are very few nations that have as an intimate understanding of racial discrimination as South Africans do. “When particularly prominent anti Apartheid activists say Israel is an apartheid state or what’s happening in Israel in some cases is worse than what happened in Apartheid SA, those are very serious statements and they carry a lot of weight and it’s almost impossible to discuss Apartheid without discussing South Africa.”
Dadoo says Apartheid has been reborn in Israel – “it was made in South Africa but it’s been perfected in Israel”. The book aims to expose how Israeli Apartheid has managed to stay hidden for so long, highlighting the obvious as well as the seemingly innocuous manifestations of discriminatory Israeli policy.
The book gives historical evidence on the background of the conflict, the Arab and Islamic world, the Islamic movements in Palestine, Israel and Palestinian politics, the Zionist lobbying effort to misrepresent Muslims and Islam using anti-Semitism and Islamophobia not only in the US but in South Africa as well.
Speaking to Cii Radio’s Global Dynamics last week, co-author Osman, said the book “gives a background picture of how it is that the Umma has become so decimated and the cause of the problem is undoubtedly Israel and therefore Israel has become a problem not only for the Muslim and Arab world but for the entire world that is now being destabilised by this cancerous regime that has been planted into the Muslim world.”
The main aim of the book, the authors say, is to educate not just Muslims, academics and activist but everyone. “The fight against Israel is not anti Semitic, it’s not anti Jewish. It’s anti apartheid. It’s anti occupation. So we want it to reach as wide an audience as possible with the aim of educating people but also with the aim of making them understand what this struggle is about and why it is that South Africans are so passionate about it.”
Why Israel is available at leading book stores nationwide including Cii Stores. EBook and Kindle versions are also available. An official launch is scheduled for September 1st, at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.