Rejected Srebrenica Challenges Massacre Award for Israel

Israel’s award for “The Largest Massacre in the West Since World War II” was challenged today by the mayor of Srebrenica, holder of a similar award since 1995.

Israel’s feat was recognized on Saturday night in a glittering ceremony in The Hague hosted by the International Massacre Foundation.

“It’s just not fair,” said a humiliated Radislav Krstic, mayor of the small town of Srebrenica in Bosnia Herzegovina, where between 7,000 and 8,000 Muslim men and boys were massacred by Bosnian Serb troops in 1995.

“We’ve held the trophy for ‘The Largest Massacre in Europe Since World War II’ for almost 30 years,” the mayor emphasised, “and we believe the Foundation has played foul by suddenly creating a category for a nebulous concept such as ‘the West.’”

“Soon there’ll be a category for South-East Asia or the Caribbean, and then where will we be? We’re very proud of our trophy and intend holding on to it.”

Israel was awarded the trophy for its feat in killing 15,000 civilians in Gaza in little over a month.

“Besides, Israel was only able to achieve its record by cheating,” Mayor Krstic added. “Not even the Nuremberg and Tokyo war crimes trials recognized aerial bombardment as true war crimes. You have to get close and personal for it to count.”

A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment on the award.



Israelis and Palestinians Need Outside Help

Any attempt to understand the current mess in Israel and the Palestinian territories requires the ability to hold at least three seemingly incompatible concepts in one’s head. All at the same time.

Much of the world, regrettably, appears to have lost the mental flexibility necessary for complex thinking. That is probably due to the culling effect of social media on human cognition and the spread of the pernicious identity theology from colleges into the wider society. Sheer exhaustion with the never-ending conflict also plays a part.


The end of Zionism as we know it

Today marks five weeks since Hamas’ bloody rampage through the Israeli towns, villages and military bases surrounding the Gaza Strip. It’s Saturday, the Jewish day of rest. The streets of Tel Aviv are quiet; coffee bars are crowded but less so than normal. Couples with young kids throng the swings and slides in the park near my home.

Eighty kilometres south of here, Israeli forces have closed their stranglehold on al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, with thousands of patients, medical staff and refugees trapped inside. The hospital’s operating theatres are dark, due to a lack of electricity, medical supplies and clean water.


Jeremy Gordin: A wordsmith with abundant personality, dry-as-ice sense of humour and a febrile intellect

Tributes pour in for the retired journalist who was murdered in his Parkview home

“So what do u think?” Jeremy Gordin messaged me last Friday night. “Did I capture Bibi and Israel in 1,300 words?”

He was referring to his Politicsweb column, published overnight, which dealt with the current turmoil over democracy in my adopted homeland.

“Yes, you did,” I replied on Saturday morning. “The space allotted to you doesn’t allow for deeper consideration of the complexities.


A big heart, a good person, and occasionally a pain in the …

Roy Isacowitz looks back over his six decades of friendship with Jeremy Gordin

 Jeremy Gordin, journalist, poet, author and long-time Politicsweb columnist, was killed at his home in Johannesburg over the weekend.

It was the summer of 1965. I was at Temple Shalom synagogue, next door to the Doll’s House on Louis Botha Avenue, which, despite its vocation, was the regular scene of Saturday night socials.


When Greater Russia Meets Greater Israel

If there’s one thing that all democratic countries and institutions appear to agree on it is that Russia ought to be comprehensively sanctioned for its invasion of Ukraine; that Putin and his housetrained oligarchs should be hit where it hurts – in their pockets, their businesses, their luxury travel, their numerous homes away from home, their football clubs, their floating palaces and so on.

All democratic countries except for one, that is.

Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem-based Holocaust memorial and research institute, is currently lobbying the US Administration to make an exception for one, pet oligarch, Chelsea Football Club owner and general oligarch-about-town Roman Abramovich, who just last week donated what has been described as “tens of millions of shekels” to the museum.


How Yitzhak Rabin Rates on the De Klerk Scale

Several readers of my previous column have asked why I made no mention of Yitzhak Rabin when writing about Israel’s need for a redemptive figure like South Africa’s F.W. de Klerk. The short answer is that it didn’t occur to me. The longer answer is given below.

In order to compare the motivations and actions of Rabin with those of De Klerk, I have identified five factors which, I believe, were essential to De Klerk’s dramatic reversal of direction in 1990 – the qualities that defined his decisive role in history.

Firstly, he came from the heart of the Afrikaner people and, for most of his life, he shared its ideological commitment to white racial domination. Had he been an Afrikaner pariah, like Breyten Breytenbach, say, his transformation would have been less dramatic and a lot less potent.


F.W. de Klerk’s Message for Israelis

Theunis Christiaan de Klerk, an ancestor of former South African president F.W. De Klerk, was hanged by the British in 1815 for his role in the so-called Slagtersnek Rebellion. Another ancestor, Lourens de Klerk, was killed by the impis of Zulu king Dingaan in 1838, one of about 100 people to die in a brutal massacre.

The former president’s grandfather fought against the British in the Boer War, one of his uncles was J.G. Strijdom, South Africa’s fifth prime minister, and his father Johannes de Klerk, was a senator representing the apartheid National Party who served as a cabinet minister for fifteen years under three prime ministers.

One of his earliest memories, F.W. wrote in his biography, was sitting on his father’s shoulders during the emotional cornerstone laying ceremony for the Vootrekker Monument (arguably South Africa’s Wailing Wall) outside Pretoria in 1938. He was three at the time.


Between Witch-Burners & Identity Zealots: The Liberal Dilemma

With witch-burners and flat-earthers on the one side and dour identity absolutists on the other, it is becoming difficult to maintain one’s moral equilibrium. Concepts and designations that I once thought immutable – left-wing, progressive, humanist – have now become porous and threatening.

The conservatives, whose myth-based self-images, fears and prejudices have led them to knowledge-denial and irrational flights of fancy, are not my concern here. Not that I doubt the danger they pose – their idiocy could well lead us to climate catastrophe and other nightmarish scenarios – but there is nothing about them that causes me to question my own values.


The Apocalyptic Peter Wilhelm

Many of us, I suspect, have been flirting with apocalyptic anxiety over the past 18 months, in the face of both the Covid pandemic and the contemporaneous worsening of the global climate. For my generation, that dual whammy has been the first real wake-up call after decades of post-WWII stability, growth and relative peace. All of a sudden, in our old age, we are having to contemplate the possibility of the end of the world.

One person who didn’t need an epidemic poke-in-the-ribs to begin concerning himself with the Apocalypse was the journalist, author and poet Peter Wilhelm – my mentor and friend – who spent the past three decades conjuring up extraordinary visions of a dystopian future and the post-apocalyptic world that might follow.