Former ANC member of parliament, Andrew Feinstein, in his book, The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, writes about the ironic relationship between apartheid South Africa and the state of Israel. He illustrates this by pointing out the ‘bizarre’ event of neo-Nazi South African prime minister, B.J. Vorster, paying his respects to victims of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem memorial.
Despite South Africa than being governed by neo-Nazis, Feinstein writes that “the unlikely allies exchanged billions of dollars of extremely sensitive material, including nuclear technology, which boosted Israel’s struggling economy and strengthened the beleaguered apartheid regime.” To survive, there was little doubt that the two rogue states were extremely desperate to find friends internationally and to support each other in the oppression of their respective peoples.
Apartheid South Africa pursued an international offensive campaign to charm the world, and the west in particular, into thinking the liberation movements as terrorist organisations funded by the Soviet Union. In order to redirect attention away from itself and the utter havoc, it was deliberately causing in the Frontline States in particular, successive National Party regimes would pursue these campaigns under the guise of a war on terror.
Apartheid Israel pursued the same strategy and continues to do so to this day. A decade or two ago the neighbouring Arab states were the boogeyman waging wars against, in the Israeli understanding, the only so-called democracy in the Middle East. These Arab states, according to Israel, supposedly supported so-called terrorist organisations such as Fatah, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and any other organisation fighting for the liberation of the Palestinian people.
Today the boogeyman is Iran and it is unsurprising that former apartheid strengthening institutions such as the University of the Free State is co-hosting a conference with the apartheid Israeli University of Haifa. An entire session will be devoted, by the conference, on discussing Iran. The nexus of the argument is no doubt to paint Iran as Israel’s greatest threat, just as the ANC and the Frontline States were described as the apartheid South Africa’s greatest threat.
That the UFS would therefore host and support such an idea is not unusual given the university’s own lack of transformation. Just as the two rogue states were politically expedient, that they could put their ideologies aside, in order to survive, so too we witness expediency on the part of the UFS and its partner the University of Haifa in order to survive.
UFS has contributed little to the thought of transformation in South Africa, twenty-six years into democracy, and therefore it has no choice but to reach such agreements with a university in an apartheid state. In fact, we may paraphrase Feinstein when he writes that today the unlikely university allies exchange millions of Rands of extremely sensitive material which seeks to boost Israel’s struggling international image and strengthens the university which was a former home to apartheid thought. Among Kovsies notorious alumni is CR Swart, first state president of apartheid South Africa, P.W. Botha, Neil Barnard and Roelf Meyer.
In July this year, American academic, Dalia Dassa Kaye, wrote, in The Washington Post, how Iran had “been hit by a series of unusual explosions at such sensitive facilities as its nuclear enrichment complex, factories and gas pipelines. Many analysts and diplomats suspect sabotage by Israel, the United States or some other outside force.”
Kaye pointed out how “The New York Times quoted a ‘Middle Eastern intelligence official’ claiming that Israel planted a bomb at the Natanz nuclear facility in the building [while]…The Times of Israel reported that the ‘official’ may be Mossad head Yossi Cohen.”
One wonders whether the academics present at the conference, co-hosted between the UFS and University of Haifa, will mention and deplore these international attacks of state-sponsored terror by Israel. Yet the academics at UFS were slow to condemn apartheid atrocities in their own country or state-sponsored terror attacks in the southern Africa region and so, therefore, we must not expect them to shy away from apartheid atrocities and state-sponsored terror abroad today.
However, we may suggest that UFS certainly gets their cue from the Trump administration and hence their blatancy in hosting such a conference. For as Kaye concludes: “Washington isn’t pushing back against potential covert actions against Iran; in fact, the New York Times recently reported that the United States may be coordinating such operations with Israel.”
Just as we are not surprised that Kovsies co-hosts this conference, South Africans must therefore not be surprised if the US has a hand in the conference as well.