Did you ever think that you would hear the words Pornography and Pogroms in one sentence? Believe it or not, this deranged word soup rant was all about South Africa’s support for the people of Gaza.
In fact, these were the words of a respected Durbanite, Mary Kluk. She is the Director and Board Chairman of the Durban Holocaust and Genocide Centre, which she founded in 2008, mainly to teach the younger generations about the consequences of prejudice, racism, antisemitism, homophobia, and xenophobia, also the about the dangers of indifference and silence.
Everybody has an opinion and has already picked sides in the Gaza/Israel war. Discussions about the conflict often involve deeply held beliefs, personal connections, and a sense of justice or injustice, all of which contribute to the emotional responses observed.
But here in South Africa, we live in a democratic society and we are allowed to differ from each other.
Holocaust Centre CEO
So why is this “opinion” from Mary Kluk so troubling?
It is troubling, because it is pure, unadulterated hysterical drama and lies, told in a rather vulgar and unseemly way.
Certainly not what one would respect from a woman who is, “a prominent educator, human rights activist and Jewish communal leader in Durban, South Africa.”
The article appeared in Haaretz on 16 November 2023 titled: “South Africa’s Government Is an Unapologetic, Shameless Proxy for Hamas and Iran.”
It begins with the most astounding introduction: “A pornographic, sycophantic romance between government ministers and Hamas leaders, a warm embrace for Iran, explicit calls to attack Jews, our homes, our workplaces, our schools. We South African Jews wonder if our own government is inciting pogroms against us.”
Read the whole article here:
Pornography and Pogroms
Let us just deal with two of the most loaded words in this paragraph – pornographic and pogrom.
According to Merriam-Webster:
- The meaning of PORNOGRAPHIC is the depiction of erotic behaviour (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement.
- The meaning of POGROM is an organized massacre of helpless people; specifically: such a massacre of Jews.
It is not clear which government ministers are becoming sexually aroused at the thought of targeting Jewish people (in their homes and places of work). Or, as she explains, perhaps “most chillingly of all, in their schools.”
Certainly not Dr Pandor, who is also a Durbanite and probably from the same generation as Mrs Kluk.
I am sure she was just doing her job. You know it is a kindness to reach out to friends in trouble to ask if you can help? But it is very clear what she said. This means that Mrs Kluk is fabricating a story to suit her own demons.
Phone Call with Hamas Leader
Who knew that a phone call between South Africa’s foreign minister could cause this smutty little rant. Dr Naledi Pandor, said in a statement, that she held a call with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh at his request to “discuss getting humanitarian aid into Palestine.”
I asked @DIRCO_ZA Minister Naledi Pandor about her call with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh earlier this month and for her reaction to calls for the Israeli Embassy in SA to be closed and the Israeli Ambassador expelled due to the dire humanitarian situation unfolding in Gaza.… pic.twitter.com/H7XqlV4TIO
— Sherwin Bryce-Pease (@sherwiebp) October 25, 2023
And, in keeping with the South African government’s position, she “reiterated South Africa’s solidarity and support” for the Palestinian people and “expressed sadness and regret for the loss of innocent lives on both sides.”
South Africa’s Parliament then voted in favour of a motion calling for the closure of Israel’s embassy in Pretoria and the suspension of diplomatic ties as tensions soar between the two countries over the Israeli assault on Gaza.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government had also filed a referral to the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip.
Mary Kluk’s Meltdown
Was this the reason for Mary Kluk’s meltdown?
How many members of the Jewish community in South Africa have been attacked in their homes or workplace for being Jewish? What proof is there that the South African government is deliberately inciting pogroms against the members of our Jewish community?
SA Government may be dysfunctional in many ways, but they have certainly never ever made “explicit calls to attack Jews.”
Israeli vs Jewish
Is she confused about the accepted difference between the terms, Israeli and Jew – “Israeli” is a term related to citizenship in the state of Israel, while “Jew” is an ethnic and religious identity that can be found globally, including within and outside of Israel. Not all Jews are Israeli and not all Israeli’s are Jews.
In the article, Kluk then descends into her unhinged best about the, “the profane, bordering on the pornographic romance between the South African government and Hamas has ratcheted up to alarming levels, including Pandor’s now notorious personal phone call to the leader of Hamas’ politburo, Ismail Haniyeh, in which she pledged South Africa’s support”
Fact: Minister Pandor returned a call to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh at his request to “discuss getting humanitarian aid into Palestine. I am sure she didn’t insist on only talking to him if he was in his “politburo” (Maybe Mrs Kluk thinks that by adding in an old-fashioned Russian spy she can make it sound vsinister)?
South African Jews Call for a Ceasefire
Talk about good timing! The day before Mrs Kluk’s unhinged rant, The Daily Maverick published an open letter signed by hundreds of South African Jews calling for a ceasefire in Gaza”
The letter signed by William Kentridge amongst others stated:
“We believe in the universal values of peace, justice, and equality, and condemn in the strongest terms all violence against civilians, and against children. We must hold to account those responsible for violence against civilians — whether perpetrated in Gaza, the West Bank, or Israel. We do so not in spite of our Jewish identity, but because of it. One of the core beliefs of Judaism is the sanctity of human life and the duty to preserve it, enshrined in the principle of pikuach nefesh.” (The Jewish Value of Saving a Life).
We know that the story of the Jewish People is a “greatest hits” of anti-Semitic-filled trauma. And I am sure Mary Kluk has more than enough guilt and angst to go around.
Loaded on top of that generational Jewish trauma she is probably also traumatised by being white in South Africa, And inadvertently, a beneficiary of apartheid. (This time not the victim!)
For me this rant is shocking because she knows better. Mary Kluk is not a lightweight floozy who just runs her mouth at any opportunity. She is a serious, respected person in the community – the Jewish community and in Durban’d community.
In addition to her ongoing involvement in Jewish communal affairs, Mrs Kluk is a trustee or patron of several leading Durban charitable foundations, including the Beare Foundation, Dennis Hurley Centre, Durban Jewish Education and Charitable Trust and Israel South Africa Foundation.
Her Holocaust and Genocide Centre, not only portrays the Holocaust the Jews suffered in WWll, but also the Genocide in Rwanda. It is a great little museum, put together with so much thought and care.
Apartheid is Always With Us
Does Mary Kluk understand that many South Africans, in fact the majority lived under legislated apartheid?
The triggers, the words from the Israelis (and the US and EU) are shattering. It is just the old the apartheid playbook all over again.
But it is not only this war – it is this very right wing Israeli Government’s policy of “Apartheid on steroids” that needs to be dismantled.
It has gone on too long.
The people of Gaza need their own safe country, not an open-air concentration camp as it is often described. There needs to be full equality among all parties.
In South Africa we have been working on this challenge since 1994. WE still have a long way to go.
Call for Decency
We, as the decent people of South Africa – those who respect and defend all human rights – call on Mary Kluk to …… write a retraction.
She should also carefully think about her representation on those charitable and educational boards.