​ SA Foreign Policy in tatters

In her latest attempt to justify South Africa’s morally bankrupt stance on the Ukraine invasion Minister Naledi Pandor can do no more than resort to her usual knee-jerk Israel bashing. Addressing the Heads of State on Friday, she chose to make outrageous comparisons between the devastation that Russia is wreaking on the Ukrainian people and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Apart from being a weak and obvious attempt to dodge the question by dragging in a completely unrelated matter, the comparison Pandor presumes to draw is as logically absurd as it is factually baseless. No possible parallels exist between Israel defending its citizens against rocket fire and terror attacks and Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression against a sovereign country.

Of all the injustices taking place in the world today, the only ones that appear to concern Pandor are those she considers Israel to be guilty of perpetrating. In her view, it is only the Jewish state that must be put in the dock and condemned out of hand.

In a now common refrain, Pandor seeks to explain away our country's failure to condemn the Russian invasion and the multiple barbarities that have ensued by stating that 'South Africa does not take sides’ and prioritising South Africa’s role as a mediator. Viewed against her unreflectingly condemnatory, one sided stance on Israel, this display of hypocrisy would be laughable were it not so damaging and destructive. When it comes to the Jewish state, the minister’s stance, and that of the government she represents, appears to be intentionally provocative and discriminatory. Whereas SA has consistently had nothing to say about other far more devastating conflicts around the world, it has been singularly hostile towards Israel – issuing condemnatory statements, issuing demarche orders to Israeli diplomats, recalling SA Ambassadors for consultation and embarking on downgrades of its embassy. By contrast, its response to the devastation wrought against Ukraine has been to publicly join with Russian diplomats in celebrating diplomatic relations. At the UN, South Africa supports any resolution to demonise the Jewish State but cannot bring itself to align itself with the great majority of nations that have voted against Russia's lawless aggression. As for Minister Pandor's claim that South Africa seeks to mediate in global conflicts, this rings distinctly hollow in view of its policy of boycott and disengagement when it comes to Israel.

These glaring inconsistencies do not surprise us. Just as the Minister cannot bring herself to acknowledge the devastation and human suffering inflicted on the Ukrainian people, so has she never concerned herself with the right to safety and security of Israeli citizens. It is frankly shocking to note, moreover, that her latest diatribe has come at a time when Israel has been subjected to a wave of deadly terrorist attacks. Needless to say, South Africa has had nothing to say in response to these atrocities. It is only when Israel responds to attacks that this country finds its voice.

It should be a matter of profound concern to all South Africans that this country's once renowned human rights-based foreign policy moral compass has become so thoroughly, and perhaps irrevocably tarnished. This abject state of affairs is epitomised by Minister Pandor's obsessive attacks on the Jewish state. They go against every policy position her Ministry claims to hold, and underline just why South Africa is no longer regarded as a credible player on the international stage.

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