Ahmed Kathrada: War-monger or War-resister?

UNLIKE his fellow treason trialists, Ahmed Kathrada does not support Jewish autonomy. In a recent interview by the BBC, Kathrada relates how his political stance towards Palestine is beholden to fundamentalist interests in particular the extremist positions of Leila Khaled and Marwan Barghouti.

Barghouti is still imprisoned in Israel for the murder of a Greek monk amongst other terror atrocities.

“There is no reason so far for me to criticise the Palestinian leadership” says Kathrada.

“If they in their wisdom support violence as the only method, then I support violence.”

Kathrada who was imprisoned on Robben Island because of his activities against the apartheid government has been campaigning to extend the legitimacy of the anti-apartheid struggle to political problems presented by the Middle East, in particular the cession of all land in the Levant and the creation of an Islamic Caliphate (1).

His website makes it abundantly clear that he considers the entire land of Israel to be under “occupation”.

On her last visit to South Africa Leila Khaled made the return of Haifa and Tel Aviv to the Palestinian government a non-negotiable issue, the debate for her is neither the West Bank nor the traditonial demand for the city of Jerusalem to be the capital of a new Palestinian entity.

Her role in several plane hijackings as part of the Black September movement is perhaps infamous.

Kathrada says he will never renounce violence but does not accept that his position is as he puts it in any way”anti-Jewish” this because both Denis Goldberg and Ruth First were Jews in the South African struggle.

The latest pathology in which pacifism is used to disguise often violent and aggressive ideologies in an effort to gain the aura of legitimacy can be seen by his appearance as a guest speaker at the current Cape Town War Resisters Conference being held by War Resisters International.

Although the conference claims to be a conference “focused on non-violence”, both Kathrada and Terry Crawford-Brown (who is also one of the local organisers) have refused to eschew acts of aggression against religious minorities and the use of force and violence to achieve their goals.

Most recently Brown hosted a seminar at Community House on the historical problem of Jewish immigration to South Africa from an Anti-Semitic perspective — the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel has increasingly become nothing more than a boycott of Jewish business and culture instead of the noble campaign it purports to be, claiming to liberate the West Bank and so-called “occupied territories”.  Intellectuals are thus beginning to reappraise their positions in regard to the tactics of BDS. See Noam Chomsky’s rethink of the situation in the Nation, and the  the story covered by The Guardian and by Mail and Guardian.

According to Chomsky,”while there is, finally, a growing domestic opposition in the United States to Israeli crimes, it does not remotely compare with the South African case. The necessary educational work has not been done. Spokespeople for the BDS movement may believe they have attained their “South African moment,” but that is far from accurate. And if tactics are to be effective, they must be based on a realistic assessment of actual circumstances.” Hopefully the unintended consequences of the boycott and its blowback on the victims and survivors of the apartheid system in South Africa will be addressed as analysts finally come around to addressing the theological problems of what they actually mean by the term: “worse than apartheid”

NOTE: The author of this blog is still battling to access Secular rights guaranteed by South Africa’s constitution in an atmosphere of growing cultural and religious intolerance.

(1) This is essentially the Hamasist position.



1 comment
  1. You might like to read this open letter to Kathrada and contact Spotlighting at: [email protected]


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