Saturday, May 19, 2007

Palestine solidarity at Johannesburg:
University of the Witwatersrand ("Wits") student newspaper

From the student newspaper at the University of the Witwatersrand, "Vuvuzela":

"Esack back and in form"

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Full article on the Web at:

Farid Esack is no stranger to controversy, debate and dialogue.

The maulana (Muslim religious leader) and Harvard professor was on the Wits campus this week and the topic of his talk was in character: "Comparing Zionism with apartheid: privileging or undermining our unique victimhoods".

Speaking at the Wits Palestinian Solidarity Committee Nakba (catastrophe) commemoration week, Esack illustrated differences in dispossession, punishment and torture between apartheid SA and Zionist Israel.

"Life for the Palestinians is infinitely worse that what we had under apartheid, and the price they have to pay for it much more horrendous. We, for example, never had a wall separating black and white people," he said.

Esack, who was a pivotal figure in the anti-apartheid struggle in Cape Town, said his history in the liberation movement informed his view that there was "enforced apartness" in Israel during his many visits to the region.

"Every single South African who participated in the liberation struggle and who has been to this part of the world has been struck by this apartness," he said.

His professor-like glasses perched precariously on his nose and sporting a patterned Mandela-shirt, Esack also reminded the audience that Mandela was not always regarded as a symbol of reconciliation.

"Now we live in a time when Nelson Mandela is everyone’s favourite uncle. It’s all too easy to forget Israel’s support for the apartheid regime when Mandela was a terrorist..."

...Responding to a comment that he appeared to turn a blind eye to human-rights abuses by Palestinians, Esack acknowledged that these did exist in the same way that the ANC were guilty of human-rights abuses during the liberation struggle.

"In the larger picture of justice and injustice, I’ve chosen to tell the story from the underside of history," he said...


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