Monday, June 13, 2011

Learning from the South Africans!

Jewish activist Mark Braverman has been in South Africa, meeting with persons wanting to learn how the S. Africans beat back the Apartheid government some time ago. He has now published the first of two blog entries, sharing what he has learned. Go to and click on his "blog: the Politics of Hope" for the text. Please read his comments on what he has learned.

What happened in South Africa is especially relevant to Dutch Reformed and Presbyterian types, many of whom participated in the "boycotts" that finally got the attention of the "white" (Dutch) establishment who wanted to confine the "coloreds" to "their part of the land" and minimize their political rights.

I'm attaching my comments to his blog entry. His response to my entry follows below.

Please follow this discussion and stay tuned in. JRK

Mark Braverman: Your comment on the post [My visit to South Africa Part 1], has a new reply

Here is your original comment:
Dear Mark: I'm looking forward to Part 2. Hard as it was to attain the breakthrough, the architects of Apartheid and the "colored" churches shared a common (Christian) heritage, and were able to find reconciliation without a lot of bloodshed. Much "grace" and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission helped with the aftermath. Unfortunately, I/P is made up of three religious groups, that are not as "close" as the blacks and whites in S. Africa. OK, well, they are children of Abraham, but many generations ago and a lot of water has passed over the dam. Karen Armstrong's "Compassion" creed is helpful and we have to accent the common humanity we have and the values we hold in common (love for God and neighbor, ala "The Common Word Between Us", etc). Thanks for your efforts to bring the OT (and NT) prophetic vision to bear on our region, dear colleague. John [Kleinheksel]

Here is the reply (apparently from his new friends in S. Africa):
Hi John: Thanks for your reflections on the similarities and differences between South Africa and Israel-Palestine. You are right - Bishop Tutu was able to say to the leader of the most right-wing group "whether you like it or not, you are my brother". (He said this to point out that they are both baptised in the same baptism). What we must pray for is not necessarily a Palestinian Mandela or Gandhi (because there are several), but rather an Israeli De Klerk. (FW de Klerk was the last president of apartheid South Africa). In faith terms, he belongs to a church that is even to the right of the Dutch Reformed church but I know that his faith helped him to some extent. But it was his realisation that things could not go on in the same old way, and that sanctions - even people to people sanctions e.g., sports - would only become worse, that ultimately made him move politically. This is why BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is so important. It would put the pressure on all Israelis to think creatively about a solution, and we in South Africa believe that it will come, but it will NOT come without pressure from everybody. The extreme right-wing will always be there and their bark will be worse than their bite...BDS will help to move most people into the centre...