The government's knee-jerk reaction to the pogroms that swept across the country speaks volumes to the politics of African nationalism. We were told they were ''criminal'' acts in the service of a ''third force'' agenda. This last term has a particular saliency in the South African context, writes Ivor Chipkin.
There is a tendency in South Africa to think that the future is dependent on what happens in the political domain. We debate the prospects of long-term political stability and economic growth as a question of the future of the tripartite alliance, economic policy and globalisation. This is all very important. Yet it draws attention away from an area of South African society that may be equally important.
Is there growing scepticism in the world about the very possibility of contemporary South Africa -- a unitary state composed of peoples who have nothing in common except that they live in the same territory? Is the cosmopolitan project in -crisis? This is how the burning Paris hinterland is interpreted -- the consequence of trying to integrate diverse cultures and religions in a single polity.
Recently, Jewish Voices South Africa and the Palestinian Solidarity Committee organised a joint placard demonstration. The protest was a festive and peaceful affair that attracted people from diverse organisations and walks of life. Our joint action, the first between a Jewish organisation with established roots in the Jewish community and a Palestinian solidarity movement, was motivated by several imperatives.
The South African government recently hosted a United Nations conference on the Inalienable Rights of Palestinians. It was unfortunate that the government of Israel chose not to send a delegation. The tone for the conference was set by President Thabo Mbeki's opening address. This was not going to be a furious affair with wild denunciations of the state of Israel, and especially not of its right to exist.
The first time I went to Israel, in January 2004, I had been invited to participate in a conference hosted by the Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace. What would I find? I did not, nor do I, believe that the idea of a Jewish state was motivated by colonial desires. There is no future for Israel as an exclusively Jewish state, writes Ivor Chipkin.