The Goethe Institute (cultural arm of the German government) this week refused to host a talk given by Ronnie Kasrils because he had likened Israel to the Nazis. The talk moved to the Trinity Church in Braamfontein at the last minute. Peter Fabricius reports in the Cape Times
|The Goethe Institute here, cultural arm of the German government, cancelled a speech on its premises this week by Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils after he had likened Israel to the Nazis. Kasrils had to move to another venue at the last minute to deliver the speech in a seminar organised by the Ceasefire Campaign, the Centre for Policy Studies, (CPS) the South African Liaison Office, the Action Support Centre and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR). The Goethe Institute objected to wording in the invitation which these organisations sent out to the seminar on the subject: Israel and Lebanon; Unpacking the source of the Middle East conflict. The invitation quoted from a recent article by Kasrils published in the Mail & Guardian, in which he said about the recent Israeli assault on Lebanon that, "we must call baby killers, `baby killers`, and declare that those using methods reminiscent of the Nazis be told that they are behaving like Nazis".|
I have a copy of the text of the invites that were sent out.
Israel and Lebanon:
Unpacking the source of the Middle East conflict
Ceasefire Campaign, the Centre for Policy Studies, the South African Liaison Office, the ACTION Support Centre and the
Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation
The UN brokered ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon appears to be holding. But for how long? And what happens next?
Is the Middle East conflict intractable? What is fuelling the conflict and where do the solutions lie?
The seminar is aimed at understanding the South African government’s role in the Middle East, providing information and analysis on the dynamics of the conflict, and promoting solution focused dialogue that explores the roles and responsibilities of civil society organisations and progressive governments.
Key note speaker will be Minister for Intelligence services Mr Ronnie Kasrils. As an outspoken critic of Israel’s role in the region he recently wrote a piece that was published in the Mail & Guardian elaborating on the background to the ongoing dispute. He quoted Norwegian writer Jostein Gaarder who said of the recent war in which hundreds of children died: “We no longer recognize the state of Israel. We could not recognize the apartheid regime. We call murderers ‘child murderers’.
“We do not recognize the principle of a thousand Arab eyes for one Israeli eye.”
Kasrils concluded, “Like Gaarder, we must call baby killers, ‘baby killers’, and declare that those using methods reminiscent of the Nazis be told that they are behaving like Nazis”.
Minister Kasrils has agreed to speak and to field questions.
It is envisaged that the seminar will attract participants from civil society, the diplomatic community, government and academics. A series of inputs will be followed by questions and contributions from the audience.
Venue : The Goethe Institute
RSVP Thandeka Zondi at Ceasefire
It's telling how Kasrils and all of these radical groups have latched onto an article written by Joostein Gaarder which was widely condemned as racist. The article, entitled "God's Chosen People", put forward the thesis that Israel’s ‘barbaric’ actions in Lebanon are the result of Judaism’s ‘archaic’ and ‘warlike’ nature. Using imagery and themes reminiscent of classical European anti-Semitism, Gaarder portrayed Christianity as the humanistic, peaceful successor to Judaism. Following the uproar in Norway Gaarder actually distanced himself from the original article and ensured that the article would not be translated into other languages.
It's sad that this racist and offensive article has been so widely celebrated in South Africa and dissapointing that the Trinity Church in Braamfontein, unlike the German Goethe Institute, took no issue with these ideas.