October 25, 2000
by Ali Abunimah

 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 organized them  roughly by category.


 *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.""
 --President P.W. Botha explaining why he was imposing a state of  emergency.
 --The Washington Post, July 21, 1985


 *From South Africa...
 "Law and order has to be restored with strong and singleminded action. The full power of the state has to be employed to this end."
 --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.
 --Financial Times, September 11, 1985

 *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 sixteen black protestors
had been killed by South African forces.--
The New York Times, August 9, 1985

 "We are not trying to oppress people, but are doing this for their own benefit."
--Brig. Jan Coetzee, the Chief of Police in Soweto Township
explaining why the township was under curfew.
--The New York Times, August 24, 1985


 *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 thirteen 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


 *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. theANC) 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 neighbor, even if its a good neighbor."
 --Ehud Barak, CNN, October 12, 2000


 *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


 "Apartheid"--President P.W. Botha

"Us over here, Them over there"--Prime Minister Ehud Barak

...And freedom too will come to Palestine.

Ali Abunimah
Businessmen Services Center
P.O.Box: 574
Hebron, Palestine
Tel: +972-2-2215662
fax: +972-2-2215663
Email: reema@palnet.com
Director: Reema Abu Hamdieh


On Israel and south africa. from a book by Mona Younis (2000), liberation
and democratization: the south african and palestinian national movements.

"I don't understand this comparison between us and south africa. what is similar here and there is that both they and we must prevent others from taking us over. Anyone who says that the blacks are oppressed in south africa is a liar. The blacks there want to gain control of the white minority just like the arabs here want to gain control over us. and we, too, like the white minority in south africa, must act to prevent them from taking us over. I was in a gold mine there and i saw what excellent conditions the black workers have. so there is separate elevators for whites and blacks, so what? that't the way they like it."
Raphael Eitan,
Chief of Staff of the Israeli army during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, speaking in a guest lecture at the school of law, tel aviv university, 1987, quoted in yediot ahronot, december, 1987.