Is this how South Africa wants to brand itself by naming a street after a Palestinian airplane hijacker?
By David E. Kaplan
With South Africa facing immense challenges from a shaky economy, declining and unequal education, major unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, marginalization of the poor, ailing public health system, embedded corruption undermining state legitimacy and public service, failing management of its water resources and rampant crime, it does spend an inordinately lot of time – to an overseas observer – of diverting attention from the real to the fantasy with “Hey, our problem is Israel.”
Anti-Semites in the Middle Ages blamed the Jews for the Black Plague that decimated over half the population of Europe.
In newspapers abroad, we read this last week of November 2018:
- “A South African Academic Conference at Stellenbosch University Disinvites Israelis After Boycott Pressure”
- “City of Johannesburg debates changing the name of one of its main streets, Sandton Drive, to Leila Khaled Street.”
This is the same Leila Khaled who, holding two hand-grenades in her hands in 1970, terrified a planeload of passengers on an EL AL Flight from Amsterdam to New York City.
This was not a once-off for the Palestinian poster girl of the 1970s!
The previous year, in 1969, she had hijacked a TWA Flight from Rome to Tel Aviv diverting it to Damascus International Airport, where together with her partner, blew up the nose section of the Boeing 707.
Is this who South Africa wants to brand as an inspiring figure for future generations of South Africans to aspire and to encourage foreign business?
South Africa does not need lunatic ‘hijackers’ to ‘nosedive’ – they have them in the guise of politicians!
A Bad ‘Sign’
The proposed change of a ‘street sign’ is also an indication of the ‘direction’ South Africa is moving. At a time where the recent CNN investigation based on a survey across seven European countries reveals that “anti-Semitism is alive and well across Europe”, South Africa wants to send a message that a Jew-killing supporter is the best person to name a street after!
What message does this send to the Jewish community in South Africa?
The grandparents of Jews of today in South Africa, may well remember earlier ‘messages’ like the 1930 Quota Act of the National Party under Prime Minister J.B.M. Hertzog which effectively curtailed the influx of eastern European Jewry.
Every nation has the right to “maintain its own particular type of civilisation,” said Hertzog’s Minister of the Interior, Dr. Malan. In defense of his bill before a crowded chamber, Dr. Malan explained its aim in stemming the “increasing stream of alien immigration, mainly from Lithuania, Poland, Latvia and Russia”, in other words – Jews!
Naming a street today in a suburb heavily populated with Jews by one who had her sights set on killing Jews, is sending a message – a sure ‘sign’ of concern.
If Johannesburg City is so gung-ho of renaming a street, why not after Sir Aaron Klug, who passed away last week in the UK. A recipient of the 1982 Nobel Laurette for Chemistry and former President of the Royal Society, Klug, who grew up in Durban began his university studies at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). He received the award for his “development of crystallographic electron microscopy and his structural elucidation of biological important nucleric acid-protein complexes.” His research laid the foundation for the computerized tomography (CT) scanners that have become standard hospital equipment.
Is this not what befits South Africans every day?
Is it not preferable to name a street after an individual that enriches rather than destroys humanity – one who saves rather than supports taking lives?