by MJC

What is it about an oppressed nation that turns it into an oppressor (against everyone but its own oppressor) the moment it is freed and given the reigns of government?
The manner in which the victims of Nazi oppression have turned into aggressors against a settled population is simply too obvious for this connection to still be demonstrated. But it is not there that I want you to look. At least not for the present moment.

In the early 19th century, Afrikaner dissatisfaction with British rule at the Cape led to the Great Trek inland, and eventually the establishment of two new Boer republics. When gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand Britain invaded. Boer forces, with help and participation from other anti-British Europeans, struggled against the mighty empire in two wars. The torture and deprivations of these wars remain deeply etched into the Afrikaner psyche: the concentration camps, executions, and scorched earth policies. The proud Afrikaners were forced onto their knees in humiliation.
(Neither Boer nor Brit seemed to care for the fact that both of them were in reality just displacing settled populations from their land.)

But did the memory of this subjugation mean anything to the National Party when it eventually assumed the reins of government? The answer lies in a single word: Apartheid, in which yesterday’s oppressor became today’s aggressor.
We live in a time when everywhere across the spectrum—from Orthodox Jews, Israeli leftists, American talk show hosts, and even politicians—a change in Palestine-Israel discourse has begun. The brutality, excessive use of force, and targeting of civilians are all forcing a change in direction.

So at a time like this, to still find a pitiable attempt at racist humour from an Afrikaner like Discovery’s David Mostert is indeed very telling. As much as we might have hoped that he and his ilk would identify the plight of the Palestinians with that of the broken Afrikaners, they consciously choose not to. Like the Zionists, their historical frame of reference makes a point of forgetting the suffering of the Jewish people, not only under Hitler, but for 2000 years all over Europe, when it comes to dealing with people they rule and dominate.
We know that the tendency to dehumanize which was the lifeblood of Apartheid remains well alive and kicking in South Africa today. Haven’t we all come across white citizens who “never agreed with Apartheid, you know?”
Yet, from time to time, the willingness to generalize and then dehumanize off which Apartheid fed, will continue to reveal itself in the David Mosterts of South Africa.
As long they remain in this land and haven’t decided to emigrate to Europe or other white settler colonies, we know that the rehabilitation of the people of this land remains incomplete.


MT Karaan

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