Quote of the week

An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.

Plasket AJ
Victoria Park Ratepayers' Association v Greyvenouw CC and others (511/03) [2003] ZAECHC 19 (11 April 2003)
22 June 2007

On "terrorists" and intollerance in Jerusalem

It is reported that the Israeli police arrested an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man yesterday who they say was planning to bomb a gay pride march in Jerusalem overnight. An Israeli police spokesman said police found an explosive device in the man’s bag.

Several hundred ultra-Orthodox Jews held protests against the gay pride march, calling it a profanity against the Holy City. The demonstrators threw stones at police and set fire to rubbish bins. More than 7,000 police were deployed to secure the march. The march went ahead as planned. An internet report states:

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have rioted repeatedly in the past week, burning tires, assaulting policemen and damaging police cars. A 32-year-old ultra-Orthodox man was arrested Thursday morning carrying a homemade explosive device. Under questioning, the man said he wanted to plant the explosive along the parade route, said police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld.

Marchers carried multicolored balloons and posters of Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama. Three men wore matching pink T-shirts, shiny pink hats and carried pink lace umbrellas. On their shirts were written, “The Israeli Gay Party.”

Strange how homophobia can unite old enemies. I assume that the leaders of Hamas would also be rather upset if a gay pride march took place in Gaza. Some of Hamas’ members would probably enthusiastically cheer on the killing of some homosexuals in Jerusalem. I always find it sad that people who have been persecuted and oppressed – like those Orthodox Jews, the Hamas supporters, some Afrikaners – can turn around and condemn and persecute other groups for no reason than that they are different or affront some strange moral code.

Of course, it is also interesting that the news reports did not refer to the Orthodox bomber as a “terrorist”. I could not find any statements about the “war on terror” (what a ridiculous term) or the evil of those who unleash “terror” against gay men and lesbians. Is this, I wonder cynically, because the target was not “innocent”, “straight”, “pure” “Jewish” or “white” people, but only “filthy” and “perverted” homosexuals?

Or does the Western media reserve the term “terrorist” for those who are not “Western”, but “other” – usually black and/or Muslim? Will an Orthodox Jew ever be called a “terrorist” in the Western media? I doubt it.

It reminds one that concepts like “terror” and “terrorist” have been completely hijacked and politicized by George Bush and his cronies and have, in essence, become meaningless slogans used to brand opponents. Not that meaningless, I suppose, because many people still buy into the division between “our” freedom fighters and “their” terrorists.

When the US or Israel governments bomb civilians it is not called terrorism. It is “war” or anti-terror action. Maybe it is time that we stop using this meaningless but very intimidating term altogether.

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