South African Minister Pandor Speaks ”Truth to Power” in U.S.

South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Grace Naledi Pandor

March 30, 2024

South Africa is under attack by the self-proclaimed international rules-based order, which is another name for the Anglo-American establishment. Naledi Pandor, who is the equivalent of the Foreign Minister for South Africa, in her visit to the United States, is challenging their geopolitical doctrine that erroneously views the world as a zero-sum game composed of only victors and victims.

South Africa is being assaulted in the United States Congress for its right to conduct its sovereign foreign policy with other nations. Congressman John James (R-MI) has spearheaded the passage of legislation H.R. 7256  through the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which alleges that South Africa is a threat to the national security of the U.S.

H.R. 7256  Section 3, sense of the Congress (1)

that the ANC’s foreign policy actions have long ceased to reflect the stated stance of nonalignment, and now directly favor that PRC, the Russian Federation, and Hamas, a known proxy of Iran, and therefore undermines the United States national security and foreign policy interest.

The mis-named U.S.-South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Act, with bipartisan support has passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and can now advance to a full vote of  to the House of Representatives.

According to this nefarious legislation, South Africa’s alleged “offences” include:

  • Courageously bringing to the United Nations International Court of Justice, the genocidal behavior by the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamim Netanyahu against the Palestinian people of Gaza.
  • Remaining in continuous dialogue with nations of the so called axis of evil; Russia, China, and Iran.
  • For participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • For being a leader of the Global South and Non-Aligned Movement that provides an alternative to the diseased ideology of zero-sum geopolitics. .

In a March 21, press release from his office, Cong James writes: “South African officials have made a miscalculation by aligning themselves with Russia and China. It is in our national security interests for the United States to review our relationships with nations that may not share our values and align themselves with such actors.

This disgraceful piece of legislation, which attacks Minister Pandor personally, reflects the animus towards a nation that does not accept the absolute authority of the “rules-based order.” South Africa is being targeted by the United States, not for any single action it has taken, but because South Africa will not submit to the dictates of the Western political-financial elite.  South Africa, other African nations and those of the Global South will rightly understand this legislation as a full scale violation of South Africa’s sovereignty.

Minister Pandor, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC, March 19, 2024

Speaking Truth to Power

Into this environment, Minister Pandor challenged the precepts of geopolitical thinking in Washington, displaying courage, morality, diplomatic adeptness, all with a quality of grace and dignity, rarely seen in the U.S. Capital.

On March 19, I had the privilege of observing Minister Pandor in her discussion at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and afterwards at an inter-faith dialogue at the South African embassy on ending the war in Gaza.

The event at Carnegie entitled: Are South Africa-U.S. Relations at a Turning Point? A Conversation With Naledi Pandor, was conducted by Dan Baer, Carnegie’s senior vice president for policy research. Baer’s argumentative attitude reflecting the prejudices of Washington, was constantly challenged by Minister Pandor, as can be seen from the partial transcript that follows.

Baer began by asking Min. Pandor to rate American political leadership. She responded, shockingly: I rate it at 6 for executive and below that for the legislature…. I’m not sure the legislators have an understanding of South Africa…. I think they make conclusions about South Africa’s international relations, without necessarily speaking to us. And this is very troubling…. If I were to make a statement about their policy, I would at least speak to us first, and attempt to understand, the cause, if any, might be of an emerging dissonance.

Regarding the United Nations, Min. Pandor said: I think we need to look at the composition and the functioning, and the capacity associated with having a Security Council. I think we should have African presence as permanent members…. I also think East Asia should have a presence. I think India being so big and not being a part of the permanent members is an odd reality….

Continuing on the UN, she said: we don’t need more multilateral bodies to replace the United Nations, but the UN needs to be reformed to be more than a monitoring body…. We need to consider the [UN] capacity for peace enforcement. We have to find a way of protecting innocent people when there’s a conflict.

Minister Pandor participating in an interfaith dialogue (South African Embassy, March 19) with representatives from Jewish, Christian and Muslim organizations opposed to Israeli’s war in Gaza.

Baer asserted that: the BRICS invited six new members, four of which are authoritarian regimes.

Pandor stood her ground, responding: Who makes these judgments? This assessment that you’re making…

Baer interrupted her, saying: You would challenge the premise that Iran, for example, is an authoritarian regime?

Min. Pandor: Is it your role to make that judgment?

Baer replied: I don’t think it’s me, uh, saying that. It’s widely regarded by most people….

Min. Pandor: I don’t know if they are an authoritarian regime. I do know that—

Baer interrupted: The minister of South Africa does not know if the regime in Iran is authoritarian?

Min. Pandor: I don’t have that definition in my logbook. I do have a concern about women, and their rights in Iran, and this is something I have discussed with the government of Iran, particularly my colleague, the foreign minister…. And to use our [South Africa’s] earned democratic success to say this actually works … because if we stop talking with everybody, because we define them in a particular way, I think that the models we have adopted would not have any meaning…. We use our post-apartheid progress as a way of exemplifying for others that we think this is a good practice to adopt.

Baer: It’s difficult to make the argument that South Africa’s example is available to people in Iran or China, or in Saudi Arabia….”

Min. Pandor: We’re not a perfect democracy by any means…. We have huge problems of poverty … which derive from our history … which we have not been able to fully address as an emerging democracy. But I do believe that there is a strength in being able to speak with everyone, because if you close off, I don’t think you achieve anything.

International Court of Justice (Courtesy of Al Jazeera)

The discussion was contentious again when Baer criticized South Africa for bringing the charge of Israeli genocide against Palestinians living in Gaza, to the International Court of Justice, and not against Russia for the war in Ukraine.

Baer: What did South Africa intend to accomplish by bringing its case to the ICJ on Gaza? And how does South Africa square that with abstaining on UN resolutions with respect to Russia’s aggression to Ukraine? You compellingly spoke of the need for the UN to respond to the killing of innocent civilians, and certainly that’s happening in Ukraine. How does South Africa see connecting those two positions?

Min. Pandor: On Gaza, and what we hope to accomplish, the first thing is to stop the killing of innocent Palestinians, and what we’ve seen, what each of us watches every day, surely makes us horrified about ourselves, and our inability to stop that. So, we hoped that through the ICJ, through respect for it…as one of the international law institutions that through the provisional measures … would reduce the harm…. We knew that we may not stop the conflict in its entirety, but if we could reduce harm to the civilian population and get humanitarian aid in, we would be happy.

Min. Pandor: Provisional measures have been ignored by Israel, we’re seeing mass starvation now, and famine before our very eyes…. I think as humanity we need to look at ourselves in horror…. Speaking of Israel’s defiance to adhere to any law… there’s license, I can do what I want, and not be stopped…. The minute you allow something like this, then what you’re doing is setting in play a form of practice that will be very difficult to challenge in the future. We went to the ICJ, because we have always been told by those who know democracy better than us, that we must respect human rights, that we should respect UN institutions, that we should practice democracy, that we should end conflict in Africa. And so, we were merely practicing what is preached to us every day….

Min. Pandor: It behooves us to say, how do we find a better way…. It’s made more difficult by the most powerful countries in the world, because the impression that’s created is that it’s the weak who must respect, the weak should implement and the powerful can do what they want.

Min. Pandor: How do the powerful contribute to the greater good? What role is being played to ensure all of us hold up the highest standard? We’re the country that remains talking every week to both [Russia and Ukraine]. That’s saying we’ve got to get you in the same room. We participated in all the working groups, on the peace plan of President Zelenskyy. And we’ve now said, we think there has to be a meeting with Russia….

Talking of South Africa’s aspirations for the continent, Min. Pandor said: So, we do try to be good. But we don’t get it right all the time. … I believe we’re making an effort. And for us, the first prize would be in Africa to silence the guns, focus on development, industrialization, productive capacity, and achieving a livelihood for the majority of Africans, that places us in a different space of development. That is first prize, and first concern for us.

I completely concur with Minister Pandor: development, industrialization, and improving the livelihood of Africans is the first prize!

In the videos below, once can view Minister Pandor’s articulation of South Africa’s policy.

Read my earlier posts:

South African Minister Pandor Articulates Principles of Development for Africa

Int’l Court of Justice Rules Genocide Plausible: Netanyahu & Biden Losing Support

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Int’l Court of Justice Rules Genocide Plausible: Netanyahu & Biden Losing Support

International Court of Justice (Courtesy of Al Jazeera)

January 30, 2024

Israel, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not defeating Hamas, it is exterminating Palestinians. In his full scale assault on Gaza, and to a lesser extent, the West Bank, Netanyahu is failing just as he did prior to the October 7, 2023, massacre by Hamas, when he was unsuccessful in protecting Israel. His war on Hamas will not succeed. Israel has yet to make further progress in freeing the remaining hostages since the weeklong hostage for prisoner exchange last year. Due to the growing political isolation of the U.S. and Israel, there attempts underway, so far unsuccessful, to establish a two month pause in the military campaign by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).

On January 26, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), issued the first condemnation and warning to Israel. Although it did not accuse Israel of genocide or call for a cease fire, it validated the legitimacy of the allegations by the government of South Africa. (See text of ICJ’s decision). A full reading of the court’s decision clearly shows that claims of genocide are plausible.

The ruling by the ICJ, in its closing section: VI. CONCLUSION AND MEASURES TO BE ADOPTED, contains the following:

Paragraph 75 reads: The Court concludes on the basis of the above considerations that the conditions required by its Statute for it to indicate provisional measures are met. It is therefore necessary, pending its final decision, for the Court to indicate certain measures in order to protect the rights claimed by South Africa that the Court has found to be plausible-(see paragraph 54 above).

Paragraph 54 reads: In the Court’s view, the facts and circumstances mentioned above are sufficient to conclude that at least some of the rights claimed by South Africa and for which it is seeking protection are plausible. This is the case with respect to the right of the Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide and related prohibited acts identified in Article III, and the right of South Africa to seek Israel’s compliance with the latter’s obligations under the Convention.

The findings by the International Court of Justice, which is an arm of the United Nations, is instructing Israel to take actions to prevent genocide of the Palestinians living in Gaza.  (Read: The ICJ’s Ruling on Genocide Is Actually a Gamechanger)

Public hearings in South Africa’s genocide case against Israel began at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands on January 11, 2024.  (Photo: Selman Aksunger/Anadolu via Getty Images) (Courtesy of commondreams.org)

Genocide in Effect

Genocide is defined as a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group in whole or in part.

The challenge to proving genocide is to demonstrate intent. In the case of Netanyahu’s war against the people of Gaza, we have sufficient evidence to prove genocide in effect.

  • In the 3.5 months, since the Hamas massacre of October 7, 2023, the IDF, has become infamous for killing the greatest number of civilians, mostly women and children, in the shortest period of time. In 3.5 months, Israel has accomplished the following:
  • 26,000 Palestinians (that we know of) have been killed in Gaza. That is more than 1% of the total population of 2.2 million. This does not count the Palestinians also killed by Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers on the West Bank.
  • 63,000 Palestinians have been wounded, the majority women and children.
  • According to  ReliefWeb, 10,000 children have had their lives snuffed out.
  • The United Nations reports that every hour, two Palestinian mothers lose their lives. An estimated 6,000 mothers have been killed.

By comparison, in the 23-month long war, Ukraine, with a population of     36.7 million, has suffered the following casualties according to reporting  from the United Nations:

  • 10,242, Ukrainians have lost their lives.
  • 575 Ukrainian children have been killed.
  • 19,300 Ukrainians have been injured, including 1,264 children.

Do the math. The duration of war in Ukraine is more than six times longer than Gaza, and Ukraine’s population is sixteen times bigger. The rate of death of Palestinian children by Israeli troops, under orders from Netanyahu, is unprecedented.

The IDF claims that 9,000 members of Hamas have been killed. Even if we take these figures at face value, almost twice as many innocent Palestinian civilians have been killed in the war in Gaza than Hamas fighters.

Palestinian women walk by buildings destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza Strip, October 16, 2023. © 2023 Hatem Moussa/AP Photo (Courtesy of hrw.org)

As disease, lack of potable water, and hunger spreads to a displaced population, more women and children will perish. It should be clear to anyone who understand the rudiments of demography: the effect will be a reduction in the rate of procreation of the  Palestinian people. Thus, decreasing the number of Palestinians living today and in the future.

Biden’s Self Inflicted Wound

President Biden is losing support from within his own Democratic Party and an increasing number of Americans, who oppose his blanket military and political support for Netanyahu’s war against Palestinians. The relentless bombardment of apartment buildings, houses, refugee camps, United Nations facilities, and hospitals has made Gaza not only the most dangerous place in the world, but a death zone for a desperate and displaced  population. No matter how much Biden’s advisors and press people try to spin it, the Biden administration has the blood of thousands of innocent Palestinians civilians on his hands.

When President Biden rushed to Israel to “bear hug” Netanyahu on October 18, 2023, eleven days after the Hamas attack, and pledged full U.S. support o for Israel’s war, he had already sealed his fate. Recently, President Biden has issued statements of disagreement with Netanyahu’s conduct of the war and his rejection of a Two State Solution, but President Biden gas failed to extricate himself from “the hug.”  

President Biden’s immoral support for Netanyahu’s slaughter of Palestinians has been challenged by large demonstrations across the U.S., threatened walkouts by Congressional aids, and letters of protest against the war from the President’s staff and his presidential election campaign committee for 2024. More than once, Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has had to meet with dissident members of the State Department who oppose blanket U.S. support for Israel. Increasing numbers of young voters, a critical section of the voting population that Democrats are counting on to win the 2024 election, oppose U.S. backing for the war.

“The Hug.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US President Joe Biden (Indiatvnews.com)

Last week more serious cracks appeared, when eighteen U.S. Senators from Biden’s party signed as co-sponsors to legislation to condition aid to Israel on their compliance (or lack of) with international humanitarian law. The New York Times reports that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) estimates about half of the 51 Democratic and independent senators would vote for such a measure on the floor. Earlier in the week the Senate tabled a motion sponsored by ten Democratic Senators to link aid to human rights abuses by Israel.

This election year, President Biden will need all the support he can get to be reelected, while Democrats will attempt to maintain control of the Senate, and not lose ground in the House of Representatives. In Michigan, a battleground state in this year’s presidential election,

Arab Americans are already distancing themselves from President Biden’s presidential campaign.

President Biden’s full backing to Israel, a nation which Americans witness killing innocent women and children every day, and wiping out entire families, will be a factor in the minds of voters when they go to the polls this November.

Photo/Eskinder DebebeTrucks carrying humanitarian aid wait to cross into Gaza from Egypt through Rafah. (Courtesy of the U.N.)

Netanyahu Was Always No Good

Netanyahu is using the war to remain in power as prime minister. The continued assault on the people of Gaza is his “re-election campaign.” No progress has been made since the earlier prisoner exchange two months ago. However, as the families of the hostages ramp up the pressure, Netanyahu, a conniving politician, is maneuvering to continue his grasp as leader of an increasingly isolated Israel.

If one looks back at Netanyahu’s history, it is clear that he always opposed peace with the Palestinians in Gaza and the West bank. How pathetically foolish it is for President Biden to believe that Netanyahu will be a dependable partner in establishing a Two State Solution. Not only has he recently, and repeatedly stated his opposition to a self-governed Gaza, but his real desire is to rid Gaza of Palestinians by murder or driving them out. Let us acknowledge what honest Jews and non-Jews alike know: Netanyahu will not be a reliable partner for peace with an independent Palestinian state.

Netanyahu has not changed his anti-Palestinian views in twenty years. Two decades ago, Netanyahu bitterly opposed the efforts to create peace with Palestine by Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, a true Israeli statesman. Rabin, a former military professional, and commander of the Six Day War died a warrior for peace after signing the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995. Rabin accused Netanyahu of in effect working with Hamas to prevent the signing of the peace  accords. The assassin of Rabin came from the extremist Jewish right-wing, who’s orbit was supported by Netanyahu’s Likud Party. Netanyahu vehemently opposed the peace accords and did not object when his Likud Party called Rabin a traitor for striving to create peace with Yassir Arafat. Leah Rabin had to force herself to shake Netanyahu’s hand at her husband’s funeral, because of the scurrilous campaign waged by him and the Likud Party against Rabin’s quest for peace.

Is President Biden capable of separating himself from the clutches of Netanyahu? The future of Israel, Palestine, and world peace may depend on it.

Below, watch Naledi Pandor, Minister of South Africa, on the ruling by International Court of Justice.

Read my earlier post: Netanyahu Must Leave Office for the Future Existence of Israel, Palestine, & Good of Humanity

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com