Stellenbosch- Yesterday Miko Peled, an Israeli peace activist, commented on the Palestine-Israeli issue, claiming that “they can live together tomorrow, as long as the wall falls”.
Peled was addressing the Faculty of Theology’s packed chapel, as part of Israel Apartheid Week, an international campaign. The self-proclaimed “self-hating Jew” branded peace talks aimed at resolving the Palestine-Israeli issue as utter “nonsense”.
Peled explained that peace talks merely serve as a “diversion”. In addition, after 20 years of unsuccessful peace-talks, people are in “despair”. He continued by saying that one can only start solving the Palestine-Israeli problem, when one starts to criticise Israel and fight for democracy and equal rights.
Peled spoke openly of how the Palestine-Israeli issue became really personal: His niece was killed in a 1997 suicide attack. The crowed gasped in disbelief when he says the child’s mother, his sister, blamed the Israeli government for the young girl’s death, though the Palestinians were responsible for the bombing. Her argument, he says, is that “what does one expect when people are oppressed?”
To truly understand the issue at hand, Paled states one should be aware that there are two histories that are “diametrically opposed”: a Palestinian view and an Israeli view. The truth, however, is that Israeli Zionism is racist and colonialist. Zionism can thus not be equated to Judaism.
Another truth, he says, is that the two-state-solution is no longer viable, as the West Bank has been destroyed. Yet Peled remains hopeful and maintains that “there’s a lot we can do”, as the situation is not “complicated” or “unique”.
Peled suggests that the way forward is to replace the Zionist regime with democracy. He maintains that “change is inevitable” and the level of Palestinian oppression is “not sustainable”. Yet, “the missing ingredient is the laws”.
Breyten Breytenbach, critically acclaimed Afrikaans poet and anti-Apartheid activist, opened for Peled. He said we should be wary of comparing acts of gross human violations with one another, i.e. Apartheid and the Palestine-Israeli saga.
Yet, because of South-Africa’s own history of “systematic oppression” it is our “moral responsibility” to aid the plight of the Palestinians. Moreover, Breytenbach said that he will not apologise for his “one-sided” stance on this matter.
However, Ben Levitas, one of the more vocal exasperated, the red-faced attendees, said that he disagreed with “almost everything” Peled said. He believes that Zionism is the “liberation movement of the Jewish” and “it is not racist”.
Moreover, Levitas, with folded arms and crossed legs, stated that “Jews have been living in Israel for 3500 years”, it is thus inaccurate calling them colonists. He maintains that Israel is a “free” and “democratic” state.