How Israel-hating rulers ruin a country

Who or what turns the screws on rulers and the ruled warped by a hatred of Israel? They do it to themselves.

Steve Apfel, | updated: 13:59

OpEds Pretoria‎, South Africa
Pretoria‎, South Africa
INN:SA

Countries gone to the bad through hating Israel can fill a page, but how does it work? Rulers hate a slither of a Jewish homeland, and a whole country goes up in smoke? Who or what turns the screws and afflicts: God or man? 

In anyone’s book such a claim is a strange, if not spurious one to make. Yet I have made the claim that a prosperous country at the tip of Africa went to wrack and ruin, and that an  anti-Israel record played no small part. 

Insane? On second thoughts, forerunners of the same thing are widely known and fully documented. The story of World War II is replete with an extreme instance of the evil that hating Israel can unleash on a regime. Hitler waged war with the extermination of Jacob’s seed in mind. The Holocaust was not the Fuhrer’s means to win the war; it was an end in itself for him.

In the words of Hannah Arendt, the great scholar on totalitarianism, the Final Solution was not a part of Germany’s war effort; instead it was fully equal to the effort. The German high command thought nothing of diverting resources needed for victory to the higher priority of putting “cockroaches” to death. Operation Barbarossa was a turning down point. Trains needed to keep the army going were diverted to transport Jews to death camps. Hitler let his troops perish in the Russian winter so that trains to the gas chambers would continue to run and oven chimneys continue to smoke. 

Long before Hitler the Philistine people indulged the same obsession. The event in the Bible makes what happened to South Africa in the 21st century a lot clearer. Here it is in the form it appears in Genesis.

(Isaac) had acquired flocks and herds and many enterprises; and the Philistines envied him.

All the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines stopped up and filled them with earth. (26: 14-15).

Their act seems nonsensical when the narrative continues, relating what happened when Isaac re-dug wells in other parts, and still envy dogged him.  

“The herdsmen of Gerar quarrelled with Isaac’s herdsmen saying, “The water is ours.”(26:20)

The answer must be that if Philistine farmers relied on the new wells for water, they would have relied on the old wells from the time of Abraham. So here’s what spite can do: by filling in the old wells they deprived themselves of water. Talk of cutting off your nose to spite your face! 


The bearded, bookish, landless wanderer had no business turning into a conspicuous juggernaut winning wars and starting up many tech enterprises.
To look for self-defeating behaviour at work we don’t have to go back to ages past. And there is nothing like trouble over public access to water to bring out behaviour of the worst kind. In 2019, touring the Eastern Cape I encountered towns and trendy resorts with this trouble. The government blamed drought. Residents who knew better blamed comrades out of their depth who’d got winks and nods from higher comrades to run town councils.

Israel stepped up to the plate. The ambassador put Israeli know-how for desalination and other fresh water solutions at the disposal of dry towns. He might have saved breath. Political leaders would rather leave them dry and dying if the alternative meant getting into bed with Isaac’s seed. To make these feelings clear they threatened expulsion from the ANC party for any member who travelled to the Promised Land to see what Zionists were up to – understanding it as the land Palestinians were promised, not the avaricious lot who nipped in and settled it for their own people.  

In her book World on Fire, Amy Chua argues that ethnic hatred will always be directed by the host society against a minority that fares well. Three conditions must be met:

[1] The hated group must be a minority or people will fear to attack it.

[2] It must be successful or people will not envy it.

[3] It must be conspicuous or the majority will fail to notice the group. 

Isaac fitted all three. That is why the Philistines hated him. Israel fits all three. That is why most member states of the UN hate it. The global community disputes with a minority of one – an Isaac – who grew its flocks and dug its wells and made itself mightier than it had the right to do.

The bearded, bookish, landless wanderer had no business turning into a conspicuous juggernaut winning wars and starting up many tech enterprises. As day follows night, anger and hate follow envy. And where hate incapacitates the faculty to reason and make sane choices, there we find self-destructive rulers, countries and cause groups on the road to wrack and ruin. 

Walter Russell Mead was getting at this when he warned the US Congress about making deals with the devil.  

“Quite sane leaders when it comes to Israel lose their minds. Nations and political establishments warped by Israel-hatred tend to make one dumb decision after another.”  

We begin to see who or what turns the screws on rulers and the ruled warped by a hatred of Israel. They do it to themselves. King Abimelech of Philistine, the mullahs of Iran, the crazies of Gaza, the comrades who dispatched South Africa to the junk heap, hate enough to forgo the welfare of their own people. 

And the long term afflicting: from what or where comes ultimate judgment? “I will bless those that bless you, and curse those that curse you.”  

Regrettably, black liberators from Apartheid got in with the wrong crowd in the wrong camp – the camp of the cursed.




top