The real war is between radicalism and rationality

Issued by Emma Louise Powell MP – DA Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation
07 Nov 2023 in News

Note to Editors: The following remarks were delivered by the DA Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Emma Louise Powell MP, during a sitting in Parliament this afternoon.

Madam Speaker, the Democratic Alliance stands in solidarity with both Palestinians and Israelis who seek a two-state solution.

We reject any sentiment that seeks to annihilate either Israel or Palestine. We embrace rationality, based on peaceful co-existence for both a secure Israel and a free Palestine.

We seek the triumph of rational forces, committed to peaceful co-existence, on both sides of this terrible conflict.

That is why we stand united in our condemnation of the brutality unleashed on the Israeli people by Hamas on the 7th of October.

This massacre conjured some of the darkest memories of centuries of persecution against the Jewish people.

We condemn, in the strongest terms, the dehumanization of any person on the basis of their faith, their race, their lineage, or their place of birth.

But Hamas’ actions on October 7 also betrayed the people of Gaza, unleashing a calamity that is unprecedented in living memory, upon more than two million Palestinians.

What is equally true , is that the people of Palestine are not defined by Hamas.

And the people of Palestine cannot, and must not, be subjected to collective punishment.

That is why the DA condemns, in the strongest terms, Israeli radicals like Minister Eliyahu, who over the weekend threatened the use of nuclear weapons against the people of Palestine.

Dangerous statements such as these are transparent dog-whistles to escalation, designed to perpetuate an already fractious climate of fear and terror – the disproportionate burden of which is borne by innocent civilians.

The DA remains concerned by the escalation of violence, and the rising death toll, in both Gaza and on the West Bank. We again call on Israel to ensure that defensive action is carried out within the confines of international law.

The DA further calls for the creation of safe zones and for a humanitarian pause in the fighting to ensure the expansion of increased aid flows into Gaza, and to allow more civilians to find access to guaranteed safety.

Importantly, as the fighting rages, we call on all peace-loving South Africans to recognise the deeper conflict playing out on both sides of this terrible war.

This is not a war between the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac, but rather a war between radicalism – which seeks the annihilation of the other side; and rationality – which recognises the inherent right of both Israelis and Palestinians to statehood, sovereignty and security.

Fundamentalists on both sides of the conflict, who have been stewing in a combustible combination of grievance and ambition for generations – and who feed off of each other in order to ramp up and rationalize their own extremism – must be rebuked by all of us.

For peace to be possible, rationality rather than radicalism must win the day.

Honorable Members, history will remember the significance of this moment, and how we either used our voices to fuel hatred and division, or to advocate for lasting peace.

This crisis can only be brought to an end by those driven by peacebuilding, reconciliation, and possibility.

The question that all of us in this House today must ask ourselves is how we can be honest brokers of peace.

Yet, despite the lessons imparted by the giants of our democracy, some amongst us today have already descended into the fog of war and are now entirely blinded by it.

South Africa’s history should serve as a beacon of hope, reminding the world that peace and reconciliation are possible even in the darkest of times.

Instead, the governing ANC has altogether dismantled our nation’s once great prinicpled stature, and exposed their moral bankruptcy once again.

Minister Pandor simply cannot stand at this podium and position the ANC government as an honest advocate for peace.

The truth is that the ANC has no interest in building peace in the Middle East. They are only interested in provoking and exploiting this conflict.

All they are interested in, is using this tragedy for their own cheap political gain, hoping that they can sew domestic division and distract the South African people from their dismal failures in government.

The Minister’s recent communications with the leader of Hamas squandered any remaining vestiges of credibility her Department had left.

The Honourable Minister’s recent visit to Iran to meet President Raisi, who is actively funding Hamas, and whose government has ordered the execution of more than 1275 of their own citizens since August 2021, has exposed the ANC for the hypocrites they are.

As the prospect of electoral defeat looms ever closer, the ANC stands exposed before the world as the desperate political opportunists they are.

But South Africa is more than her government, and we, her people, can still raise our voices in support of fundamental moral propositions:

  • That Israel has the right to exist, and to protect her people.
  • That the Palestinian people have a right to live in peace, free from occupation and the threat of unyielding retaliation for crimes perpetrated by terrorists.
  • And that through the two-state solution, both Israel and Palestine can enjoy freedom and prosperity.

With these aspirations as our guiding light, the international community must stand together to support:

  • Restoring the security of Israel and ensuring the return of the people taken hostage by Hamas.
  • The urgent provision of adequate humanitarian aid to Gaza.
  • The establishment of safe zones for displaced Palestinian civilians.
  • And, an urgent humanitarian pause in the fighting to ensure the free flow of aid, and to allow more civilians to reach safe zones.

World leaders need to urgently come together and start building these conditions for peace.

Those committed to upholding a rules-based international order must do everything in our power to avoid a regional escalation.

Now is the time for leaders from across the South African political landscape to unite on the basis of our shared Constitutional values, and call for peace.

Drawing on the lessons from our nation’s negotiated settlement in 1994 that averted war and built peace, we encourage all South African civil, religious and political leaders to come together and offer our mutual assistance in finding resolution to this abhorrent crisis, and mapping a pathway to lasting peace in the region.

The Democratic Alliance remains committed to a negotiated, viable and sustainable two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, where Israel has the right to exist, in peace, side-by-side with a free, sovereign and unoccupied Palestine.

Peace is possible. But we must have the moral fortitude to stand with those who pursue it, and to condemn anyone who seeks to destroy it.

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