APM: The Denialists, Sow and Hope, and Asterix
On 21/06/2024 | 0 Comments
sent by Zaahied Sallie



Five weeks ago, I argued in the article “Cover Ups” that there are three categories for those who deny Israel is an Apartheid state: 1) The unjust, 2) The liars, and 3) The racists.

In an online seminar titled Confronting Christian Zionism, presented by the Presbyterian Church USA, Palestinian guest speaker Reverend Doctor Munther Isaac outlined three reasons why people remain silent during a genocide: 1) Colonial mentality, 2) Racism, and 3) Theology.

I would venture to add “ideology” as the fourth critical cause for this phenomenon.

Theological and ideological beliefs are deep anchors and the two I want to hone in on. These reasons are not exclusive drivers of complicit behaviour. They can also fuel denial and commit violence to the truth if threatened.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman calls denial deliberate blind spots that protect from psychological pain. Deniers hermetically seal themselves in their ideological bubbles to drown out any information that may threaten their worldview.

Freud refers to it as “Repression”, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the brilliant nineteenth-century Russian novelist in “Notes from Underground” writes: ‘Every man has some reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has others which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But finally there are still others which a man is even afraid to tell himself …’

We should not underestimate these self-deceptive mechanisms or psychic shutters. They are fierce guardians of foundational beliefs.

Deniers will hermetically seal themselves in ideological bubbles to drown out any information that may threaten their worldview. Most of us are too afraid to put our views to the fire and see if they will survive. All too often, the refrain is “We follow our forebears.” But Allah counters and reminds us that this is not an argument for belief: ‘What! Even though their fathers understood nothing and were not guided?’ [2:170]. 

If our family traditions, cultural affiliations, ideological commitments, or religious dispensations are closed to critical questioning and scrutiny, it may drive objectionable behaviour.

Thus, it is vital to have moral, ideological, or theological guidelines that govern us on universal human rights and justice, regardless of allegiances. Justice must always be the prevailing principle that guides us: ‘You who believe, uphold justice and bear witness to God, even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or your close relatives. Whether the person is rich or poor, God can best take care of both. Refrain from following your desire, so that you can act justly–if you distort or neglect justice, God is fully aware of what you do’ [4:135].

This Quranic verse is a sublime expression of justice and mandates Muslims to stand by the truth, regardless of who speaks it. It serves as a regulator against biases, denial, bigotry, falsehoods, and sectarianism, especially religious and ideological fanaticism.

Most doctrines, unfortunately, do not contain this safety mechanism. Gratefully, the Quran is replete with injunctions of justice and impartiality that modulate the believer to act justly towards all, even those to whom we harbour strong emotions.

Unbridled hatred for others often leads us to oppress them. If not reined, we can easily forego our values to serve our selfish desires. Worse still, we may commit grave evil: ‘Do not let your hatred for the people who barred you from the Sacred Mosque induce you to break the law: help one another to do what is right and good; do not help one another towards sin and hostility. Be mindful of God, for His punishment is severe’ [5:2], and ‘You who believe, be steadfast in your devotion to God and bear witness impartially: do not let your hatred of others lead you away from justice, but adhere to justice, for that is closer to awareness of God. Be mindful of God: God is fully aware of all you do’ [5:8].

I recently learned about the South African Jewish journalist and anti-Apartheid activist Benjamin Pogrund. Not only was he a student of apartheid, but he was also a good friend of the late Pan Africanist Congress leader, Robert Sobukwe.

Pogrund emigrated to Occupied Palestine in 1997. In 2001, he served the Israeli government as a delegate to the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, at the behest of the then Israeli Prime Minister and war criminal Ariel Sharon. Pogrund argued that Zionism is not racism and Israel is not an apartheid state. He also writes: ‘There was a lot in common between African Nationalism and Zionism.’1

How can one person hold such divergent views? At first, this question perplexed me. But then I realised “self-repression” must be working in the shadows and obscuring his reality. And the more I read his work, the more I believe I hit the mark.

In 2015, Pogrund wrote an Op-Ed for the Guardian titled “Israel has many injustices. But it is not an apartheid state“. Fast forward eight years, and his denial has cracked, albeit slightly. In a 2023 Op-Ed for the Guardian titled “I have long rejected claims that Israel is an apartheid state. Now I believe that is where it is heading“, he writes: ‘I did not want to write this article. It was torn out of me, addressed to Israelis because the rightwing government is taking the country into institutionalised discrimination and racism. This is apartheid.’

The sheer weight of the awareness of Israel’s apartheid reality seemed to have pushed into his consciousness and awakened him to the truth. But not yet the whole truth. Pogrund’s calculus of Apartheid Israel is still heavily flawed.

However, we must recognise that his struggles in breaking through some of the denials are monumental, especially since they happened when he was ninety.  

People can change, and we should strive to create fertile conditions to encourage positive change that serves all of humanity, even those who transgress: ‘Go, both of you (Moses and Aaron), to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds; But speak to him mildly; perchance he may take warning or fear (God)’ [20:43-44].



1. https://www.sajr.co.za/famous-friendship-between-sobukwe-and-pogrund-goes-on-screen/

The Prophet (s)


As Muslims, when we think of the Prophet Muhammad (s), our preeminent thought must be mercy to humanity. He was not just a mercy to Muslims.

The Prophet (s) urged us to do good and hope for the best regardless of circumstances.

Hope is an attribute of the believer, while despair is not. He (s) taught us that success lies in the end, not the beginning.

The Prophet (s) illustrated this attitude and wisdom in a glorious ḥadīth—prophetic saying:

إِذَا قَامَتِ الْقِيَامَةُ وَ فِيْ يَدِ أَحَدِكُمْ فَسِيْلَةٌ فَلْيَغْرِسْهَا

‘When the time of Judgement happens whilst one of you has a seedling in your hand, plant it.’ [Related by Bukhariy]

This ḥādīth is the highest expression of hope and stewardship: while the breath of life sustains us, do good, even while in death’s grip. And what better ending than to leave a legacy in service of God’s creation: ‘There is not a Muslim who plants or cultivates something, but when humans, birds, or animals eat from it, it will be considered a ṣadaqah (an act of charity).’ [Related by Bukhariy]

The Rand and Asterix

The Rand Dollar rate has lately been in flux.

One recent morning, my wife mentioned that the Rand was in decline when suddenly, I heard my eleven-year-old son, with much drama, declare: ‘Because prices are trotting through the marketplace and getting blown up in the air!’

Impressed by his accurate assessment and delivery, I asked where he learnt his economics.’

From Asterix, Dad.’

I laughed when he showed me the line from the book.

You just never know what you’ll learn if you read, even in comics.

Until next week, InshaAllah

Zaahied Sallie

Author of The Beloved Prophet – An Illustrated Biography in Rhyme

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