The Guardian November 8, 2000


Israel and South Africa in their own words

Israel's policy towards Palestine was clear years ago to those who cared 
to look. It has now been made clear for all the world to see. Israel wants 
Palestine to be nothing more than a collection of apartheid-style 
bantustans, separate little cantonments, economically non-viable and 
impossible to govern effectively as one country, entirely surrounded by 
Israeli settlements and Israeli power. Palestinians would need passes from 
the Israelis to travel between the different parts of "their" country and 
to seek work in the Israeli-occupied cities. It's the same policy the US 
has pursued in Bosnia and now in Yugoslavia. Using "their own words", ALI 
ABUNIMAH confirms that it is a policy that Israel has pursued for a long 
time and that it has many similarities to the apartheid era.

"A critical element of Israeli investment in South Africa is a rapacious 
`private enterprise' interest in the bantustans, the barren pseudo states 
that warehouse much of the black majority.

"The centrepiece of apartheid, the bantustans were envisioned as `tribal 
homelands', putting forth the fiction of South Africa as a number of 
diverse tribal groups.

"The `white' tribe, which did the geographical engineering, just happened 
to have the homeland with all the industrial infrastructure, rich farmland 
and access to transport."

 Jane Hunter, Israeli Foreign Policy: South Africa and Central 
America[Boston, South End Press, 1987].

In late 1984 protests by South African blacks against high rents turned 
into a national uprising against Apartheid. The white South African 
Government responded with brutal force, eventually declaring a state of 
emergency.

This did not quell the protests, which continued for months and years.

Thousands of blacks were killed, injured and imprisoned. All along, the 
South African Government claimed it was engaged in a "reform" process which 
would have given blacks some autonomy under total white control.

The program involved forcibly moving millions of blacks off their land and 
into "homelands".

Sound familiar? It did to me, and so do the quotes from South African 
officials back in 1984-85, when they are placed next to what we are hearing 
from Israel's government today. I have organised them roughly by category.

Incitement And The "Cynical Use Of Children"

From South Africa...

"Senior [South African] police officers have complained recently that their 
efforts to deal with unrest are hampered by the rioters' tactics, including 
the use of women and children as "human shields", the absence of suspected 
leaders from the front lines of most protests and the increased attacks on 
police, particularly the township homes of black policemen."

 Los Angeles Times, June 3, 1985.

From Israel...

"It's tragic to have a child fall in this violence, but there's no reason 
for the IDF to fire one shot if there's no violence...

"All we're trying to say is stop this incessant incitement to violence.

"We are dealing with a situation in which kids are cynically being used by 
being put on the front lines where they may be killed, maimed or injured... 
If a young boy falls, it gives the Palestinians a lot of propaganda 
points."

 Capt Natan Golan, IDF spokesman, St Petersburg Times, October 18, 
2000.

From South Africa...

"Botha said he was ordering the move to combat `acts of violence and 
thuggery' that he said were `mainly directed at the property and person of 
law-abiding black people and take the form of incitement, intimidation, 
arson, inhuman forms of assault and even murder'."

 The Washington Post, July 21, 1985, reporting President PW Botha 
explaining why he was imposing a state of emergency.

By Any Means Necessary

From South Africa...

"Law and order has to be restored with strong and single minded action. The 
full power of the state has to be employed to this end."

 Financial Times, September 11, 1985, quoting Louis La Grange, 
Minister of Law and Order, commenting on the violence which had at the time 
claimed 660 black lives and 2,400 injured against 11 dead and 357 injured 
from the South African police and army.

From Israel...

"If we do not see a change in the patterns of violence in the next two 
days, we will regard this as a cessation by Arafat of the peace process ... 
and we will order the army and security forces to use all means at their 
disposal to halt the violence." 

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Scotland on Sunday, October 8, 
2000.

From South Africa...

"If necessary, we can even take stronger steps than we have taken so far."

 President P W Botha, speaking the day after 16 black protestors had been 
killed by South African forces, quoted in The New York Times, August 
9, 1985.

"We are not trying to oppress people, but are doing this for their own 
benefit."

 Brigadier Jan Coetzee, the Chief of Police in Soweto Township explaining 
why the township was under curfew, The New York Times, August 24, 
1985.

"Stones And Bottles Are Weapons Too"

From South Africa...

"A police spokesman said riot-squad patrols had been `confronted by 
particularly violent mobs' and were `bombarded with petrol bombs, half 
bricks and other objects'."

 South African response to criticism about disproportionate force used by 
police, after 13 protestors had been killed in one day in Mamelodi 
Township, The New York Times, November 23, 1985.

From Israel...

"What happened in recent days was not just a protest demonstration, but 
rather a phenomenon of unprecedented degree...The problem is the character 
of the confrontation, the degree of confrontation between protesters and 
the police, who are entitled, if there is real danger to life, to shoot."

 Israeli Internal Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami defending Israel's use 
of lethal force against civilian protestors, Los Angeles Times, 
October 5, 2000.

The Relentless Pursuit Of Peace And The Struggle Against Extremists

From South Africa...

"We shall not be stampeded into a situation of panic by irresponsible 
elements for opportunistic reasons... We shall continue with the process of 
peaceful deliberation and consultations to find solutions for our unsolved 
problems."

 President P W Botha, touting his "reform" program which included the 
creation of separate parliaments and bantustans for blacks, the day after 
six black protestors were shot dead by South African forces.

"We will fight and defeat them with all the lawful means at our disposal."

 President P W Botha talking about "radical Communist forces" (i.e. the 
ANC) which he accused of inciting violence, The New York Times, 
August 24, 1985.

From Israel...

"Israel is determined to defend itself. We have no hostile intention 
against anyone around us. We were ready to go further than any previous 
government in Israel, be it Netanyahu or Shamir or even Rabin and Peres, in 
contemplating ideas that will put an end to it.

"But if we won't find a partner with the same determination and clarity of 
objective, we will fight to defend ourself and our right to live in freedom 
in this part of the world."

 Ehud Barak, CNN, October 12, 2000.

From South Africa...

"I am not prepared to lead white South Africans and other minority groups 
on a road to abdication and suicide."

 President P W Botha, The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 16, 
1985.

From Israel...

"You cannot let your neck be kind of cut as a good gesture for your 
neighbour, even if it's a good neighbour."

 Ehud Barak, CNN, October 12, 2000.

On International Intervention And Criticism

From South Africa...

"South Africa's decisions will be made by South Africa's leaders, and the 
leaders of South Africa will themselves decide what is in our interests", 
Botha said in Pretoria, the capital.

"Reform can only be retarded by outside attempts to interfere." 

President P W Botha, Los Angeles Times, September 10, 1985.

From Israel...

"Of course we say no [to a UN investigation]. We say that it should be an 
American source of authority, maybe with Israelis and Palestinians, of 
course, but not international body.

"And we believe that this is an understandable position bearing in mind our 
experience in this world in the last 52 years."

 Ehud Barak, CNN, October 12, 2000.

On The Future

"Apartheid"
 President P W Botha.

"Us over here, them over there"
 Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

 ... And freedom too will come to Palestine.

Back to index page