Collage with picture of Professor Suren Pillay (top left) surmounted on Abed Rahim Khatib's image of a Palestinian child inspecting the damaged house following Israel's assault on Gaza, Rafah, Gaza Strip, 8 August 2022, Sources: humanities.uct.ac.za and 972mag.com. - Photo: 2023

South African Scholar Pens Open Letter for Ceasefire in Gaza

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | CAPE TOWN | 20 November 2023 (IDN) — Thousands of scholars in South Africa’s higher education sector have taken a public stand for a ceasefire in Gaza, imploring other institutions in South Africa to do the same.

An open letter on the subject which began circulating this month has drawn the support of researchers, lecturers, administrators and students at public universities.

At the same time, a commentary by Suren Pillay, director of the Center for African Studies at the University of Cape Town, appeared. Pillay, a Black South African observing the horrific events in the Middle East, reflected on his country’s own violent past. Here are some excerpts from Pillay’s commentary.

“I recall the relentless violence that accompanied the last decades of white South Africa’s attempts to make apartheid work. I remember the fears that grew among white South Africans as they put their trust in a sophisticated military capability, a conscription army, a nuclear weapons capacity and steadfast friends in the West, particularly the United States, Britain and France.


“But the ‘terrorists’, as the national liberation movements were referred to, could not be crushed by the mightiest army in Southern Africa. By mid-1985 a significant section of the white electorate and some in the ruling party realized that the problem of Black resistance was not going to go away.

“Until October 7, Israel also had the confidence that its sophisticated military and intelligence capabilities, its use of walls and barriers to control and monitor every aspect of Palestinian life, were going to manage its “Palestinian problem” successfully.”

“Most Israelis and their political leaders were so confident that any reference to “peace talks” or even rhetorical acknowledgement of a two-state solution became unnecessary, moribund and superfluous.”

“Life could proceed. Rave parties could happen in the desert. The normality that had become normal continued in the abnormality of occupation. Until October 7.”

“Just as with white South Africans, fear grows exponentially. And Israel is responding to that fear with a colossal bombing campaign of annihilation. But as white South Africans learned, violence cannot eradicate the “problem”, nor create the life of peace they might long for.”

Pillay concluded: “White South Africans realized their apartheid project was unsustainable; Israelis will, too.” [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: Professor Suren Pillay. Source: https://humanities.uct.ac.za/

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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