History will judge Ariel Sharon as a protagonist and a proponent of Zionism. An advocate of a racist, imperialist, colonialist and apartheid ideology, Sharon was the architect of numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity.
For South Africans what is particularly disturbing was Sharon’s relationship with the Apartheid regime. He embraced and encouraged the implementation of the Apartheid policies of the Pretoria regime. The Bantustan policy of the then South African government was seen by Sharon as a possible solution to the Palestinian question.
No country recognized the Bantustans nor did any drop embargoes against South Africa. But veteran leaders of the black struggle against apartheid remember that Israel was one of two foreign countries who developed business relations with the Bantustan governments. Israel also established a diplomatic office for Bophuthatswana, in Tel Aviv.
Israel sold military wares to the apartheid government. These weapons were used by the regime to suppress the resistance in our country. If it were not for these weapons, many lives of the liberation struggle would have been saved. Nuclear expertise was also shared by the two countries. On one of his visits to South Africa, Sharon visited the Angolan border where South Africa was militarily engaged in defending its apartheid policies. He even praised South Africa as being one of very few countries resisting Soviet infiltration into Africa.
In the many obituaries written on Sharon, the South African media, either by design or inadvertently, chose to ignore these very critical links between our country and Israel. Any attempt to discuss Sharon’s legacy in the same breath as the legacy of our international icon, the late President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, is disingenuous, deceitful and insincere.
The Media Review Network notes with appreciation that the South African Government has abstained from honouring the “Butcher of Beirut” with any official commemoration. However we note with indignation that the S. A. Zionist Federation and the S. A. Jewish Board of Deputies are to honour Sharon at a memorial service, in coordination with the office of the Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein. They have once again shown a deliberate lack of historical awareness by doing so.
Senior Researcher: Media Review Network