02 September 2007

02 September 2007 - SA ambassador quote-let

I’m in transit from Israel to Boston, and en route I’ve been transcribing my interview with SA Ambassador to Israel Fumanekile Gqiba, which will be published elsewhere shortly. For now, here’s a “quote-let” of his views on the Israel-apartheid companison (note that the transcript is unedited and unverified):

Q: What do you feel are the merits or lack of merits between comparing South Africa in the apartheid era and Israel and the occupied territories today? Let's start with Israel.

A: You see, you know, as I say to you, and I've said this long ago, it's so easy for us when we are in South Africa to sit down and start analyzing, come out with solutions. (snapping fingers) You know, when I was told to come here, my first reaction was, "No, not Israel. Please, I'm prepared to go anywhere in the world." I've just come from exile in '93, I came back, I've got a young family, what I see on CNN was Israel for me. I said: "I don't want to go there. Send me anywhere in the world," but I was told, "No, we think you will fit there." Here I am. And when I arrived here, I started to grapple with the reality on the ground, and then I said, "Gee, I have to make a paradigm shift. I have to be objective." I know even some of my comrades don't believe when I say this is one, two and three, they say, "No, no, you are wrong on that." But for me, that has been the reality. Firstly, let's deal with one issue. Where people would say, you know, my belief was that Israel is the extension of the racist, white South Africa. Because that was my understanding before I came here. I regarded Jews as whites. Purely whites. But when I came here I discovered that, no, these guys are not purely whites. They are mixed. It's some kind of a, shall we say, a melting pot. You've got people from all over the world. You've got Indian Jews, you've got African Jews, you've got even Chinese Jews, right?

(When the full interview is published, I'll post it here.)

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