Opposition to War does not necessarily entail supporting either side to the Gaza-Israel conflict

SOUTH AFRICA has a long history of resistance to war. From objectors to the Anglo-Boer war during the 1900s to resistance to the SADF border war, the history of local pacifism and opposition to war is a rich and illustrious one.

The first ‘Stop the War’ committee was an anti-war organization that opposed the Second Boer War. It was formed by William Thomas Stead in 1889. It’s President was John Clifford and prominent members included Lloyd George.

Against the backdrop of a campaign surrounding the so-called Khaki election of 1900, ‘Stop the War’ distributed millions of posters, cartoons, and leaflets in London.

Moral and religious objection to war within South Africa and support for pacifism and opposition to militarism carried immense risks. “In this emotionally charged environment, the minority who publicly opposed the war, were labeled pro-Boers”, says Nigel Robson, an historian.

“Dissenters risked vilification or even violence if their views were made public, and during the seige of Mafikeng … people gathered menacingly outside the premises of a tradesman suspected of harbouring ‘pro-Boer’ views.”

During apartheid, white conscripts who refused the callup risked jail sentences with many serving time in prison. Notable conscientious objectors included Ivan Toms, Harold Winkler and Richard Steele.

A statement signed by Israeli author Yuvel Harari and 90 other signatories claims: “there is no contradiction between staunchly opposing the Israeli subjugation and occupation of Palestinians and unequivocally condemning brutal acts of violence against innocent civilians. In fact, every consistent leftist must hold both positions simultaneously.”