Dear Ivan Saltzman (CEO Dis-Chem)

I greet you with the universal greetings of peace.

I read with interest a letter you recently penned in reply to a customer of Dis-Chem who asked you to stop stocking Israeli goods in your stores.

Ivan, firstly, we must be thankful to many people around the world, including the Palestinians, for the freedom you and I enjoy today. They greatly helped our revolutionaries who were called ‘Terrorist’ to overcome the evils of apartheid.

Every shoulder to the wheel ensured our freedom. With that came many more opportunities from which you greatly benefit. Free to import and export, free to trade as you wish, and free to compete, amongst a host of others.

You were fortunate that the colour of your skin allowed you to enjoy many freedoms before most of us.

How we wished for support from everyone who may have listened to us.

The Palestinians did.

Ivan, many of us are disgusted at what is happening presently on earth. I sometimes sit back and think how’s it possible that someone, somewhere, organize such chaos.  How could we be killing with such ease? How can brothers be fighting each other?

We have lost our humanity somewhere.

When I read your reply, It reaffirmed my belief that we seriously lost compassion.

You castigated the complainant from a dizzy height filled with arrogance.

Instead of accepting her complaint as a normal everyday occurrence, you brutally reminded her about an array of Israeli inventions which I found racist. You used Somalia, Sudan, The Arab Spring, and the Dead Sea to make a point.

If it was to remind the complainant that she used an Israeli made intel chip to write to you, I suggest you read who discovered modern cryptology, without which Intel would not have been around!   Mathematicians, al Khwarizmi and al Kindi styled numerals which Intel must find great pleasure using today!  So, I will use it!

I know you as a sharp astute businessman. You must be aware that Israel imports hundreds of Indian scientist every year to develop technology and falsely claim it as Israeli inventions.

These brilliant minds make Intel, but go home as labourers while their bosses continue reeling in the profits.
Ivan, if it wasn’t for the invention of Vertical windmills, the fields of occupied Palestine – where settler’s now illegally live and farm – would have been dry. Do you know who invented them?

While you reading this, you may be sipping on a cup of coffee that will keep you awake to catch up on the days sales. I’m certain you know who first found coffee.

You see Ivan, you spoke about how Israel has given the world a patch for diabetes to deliver medication and other drugs. Fantastic!

Did you hear about a surgeon called al Zahrawi?

Many modern surgical instruments are of exactly the same design as those devised in the 10th century. His scalpels, bone saws, forceps, fine scissors for eye surgery and many of the 200 instruments he devised are recognizable to a modern surgeon.

Or how about Nafis?

He described the circulation of the blood, 300 years before William Harvey discovered it.

Muslims doctors also invented anesthetics of opium and alcohol mixes and developed hollow needles to suck cataracts from eyes in a technique still used today.

So Ivan, It’s not about Israeli inventions versus others. It’s about profiteering from goods manufactured on someone else land.

I hate to burden you with the contentious Hitler racism bit you used in your reply, but I’m compelled to remind you that you have unmasked yourself as an arrogant Islamophobe. You played religion and the man, not the ball.

You have made a choice to continue stocking Israeli products, be it from the Dead Sea or from the internationally recognized illegal settlements.

The fact that you used xenophobic and racist language to defend an innocent request to remove Israeli made goods from your shelves exposed you as an arrogant capitalist.

If your conscience allow you to continue benefiting from goods imported from an occupied land, you have to re-examine your much publicized charity stunts you carry out in South Africa.

It has Palestinian blood dripping all over.

Our father Nelson Mandela famously reminded us that, “Our freedom is incomplete without that of the Palestinian people.”

I guess it doesn’t bother you.

If you true in the belief of fairness and justice, you would have taken steps to allay the concerns of your clientele in a much sober manner.

I’m reminded of an account, known as the Judgment of Solomon, when two women came before Solomon to resolve a quarrel over which was the true mother of a baby. When Solomon suggested they should divide the living child in two with a sword, one woman said she would rather give up the child than see it killed. Solomon then declared the woman who showed compassion to be the true mother, and gave the baby to her.

This was the kind of wisdom and justice I expected from you.

I am in the interest of justice, equality, and fairness, calling on all South Africans who prefer peace over violence, to stay away from your stores. Every cent handled through your till points, is a cent going towards an injustice.

I pray that you can find yourself inside the pollution of arrogance that you engulfed in.

Have a pleasant day my friend.

Yours in Ubuntu

Zahid Asmal

Author: MRN NetworkThe aspiration of the Media Review Network is to dispel the myths and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims and to foster bridges of understanding among the diverse people of our country. The Media Review Network believes that Muslim perspectives on issues impacting on South Africans are a prerequisite to a better appreciation of Islam.