Helen Suzman’s support of censorship while espousing ‘liberal’ values is paradoxically symptomatic of many fellow Jews unable to reconcile their unconditional support for Israeli policies – most of which are in direct violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – while supposedly wedded to democratic ideals. [Star, October 20]
How else does one explain her angry rebuke of Minister Ronnie Kasril’s articulate advocacy of solidarity for the freedom struggle in Palestine against Israeli occupation, oppression and injustice?
Supporting the Goethe Institute’s crackdown of a well-publicised event by NGO’s representing a broad spectrum of civil society at which Kasrils was billed to be the keynote speaker, is not any different from embracing policies reminiscent of apartheid’s infamous era of censorship. Suzman ought to know better than most that despite the awesome and brutal conduct of these gang of thugs which resulted in bannings, detention without trials and the closure of newspapers, apartheid remained vulnerable until its final fall.
Likewise, whether the Goethe Institute buckles under pressure from the local pro-Israeli lobby or not; Suzman ought to know better than most that Israel is floundering at a number of levels, reflecting a vulnerability and extreme dependency on the patronage of America – itself undergoing a huge crisis of credibility, not least because of its funding and military support of the Jewish state – which will continue to be debated.
As an animal caught up in deep mud, Israel is confronted with major ideological divisions primarily centred on zionism’s inability to fully embrace democracy while seeking to retain a racist state made up exclusively of Jews.
Suzman does not have to believe me. She can and should get out of her self-imposed prism by exposing herself to this exciting new debate by Jewish academics, civil rights activists, authors, historians, journalists and indeed politicians.
This phenomenon is as dangerous to the Israeli state as the on-going freedom struggle. Indeed, many of these courageous souls, like Uri Avnery, Uri Davis, John Rose, Menon Benvenisti, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Uri Davis, Mark Ellis, Avraham Burg, Tony Judt, Israel Shahak and Ilan Pappe – to name just a few – have been subject to vilification, insults and threats.
Neither the humiliating taunts questioning Kasrils’ Jewishness for daring to raise his powerful voice against Israeli atrocities towards its indigenous population forcefully removed and denied their legal right to return to their former homes and farms; nor supporting calls to silence him, will assist in stemming the momentous tide of universal solidarity for Palestine.
Suzman and her zealous public backing of Israel must publically deal with the following challenge by the late renowned Palestinian academic Edward Said who constantly argued in the most cogent and rational way that his people cannot be expected merely to submit to military rule and the denial of their human and political rights:
"A new truth has emerged, a truth Palestinians have been proclaiming during this entire century [20th] that far from being a national liberation movement of Jews who came, in the commonly cited phrase, ‘to a land without people, as a people without land,’ the Zionists in fact came to Palestine, found another people already there, and then for several decades have dispossessed, alienated, and brutalised that people, the Palestinians, with the moral approval and support of the West generally and the United States in particular."
It is this fundamental truth that seems to have escaped Suzman and other zionist zealots, which explains why they would be more comfortable with silencing critics of a tyranny like Israel, then to engage them in open debate.
I assume that Suzman would have no difficulty in endorsing Israel’s efforts to impose "regime change" in the Occupied Territories because the "natives" used the ballot to elect the "wrong people".
Even if she refuses to publically condemn Israel’s nefarious and criminal conduct whereby policies to "starve" Palestinians for choosing Hamas have led to a humanitarian crisis, Suzman cannot ignore the fact that the narrative of Palestine which Hamas wants the international community to acknowledge and respond to, is increasingly gaining momentum.
Suzman’s attack of Kasrils reinforces public perceptions of a philosophy that being liberal does not necessarily equate to seeking liberation!