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« Pollak on the hypocrisy of the anti-Israel Jewish left | Main | Palestinian Ambassador to SA Blames Hamas »

January 21, 2009


Jonathan Berger

Dear Mike,

For your benefit, here's a definition that might assist you in understanding the analogy used in my blog:

"Analogy (plural analogies)
The use of a similar example or model to explain or extrapolate from.

The birthing class instructor used a balloon and a ping-pong ball as an analogy for the baby in the womb."

The example given does not mean that the balloon is a womb or that the ping-pong ball is a baby. The reference to the balloon and ball simply assists to understand the relationship between the womb and baby. Apply the same to my blog and you will understand what it's about.



and you told me I was being patronizing

Jonathan Berger

One past point Mike - so far, the only people I have accused of promoting an agenda of hate are those responsible for the racist boycott call. I don't believe that the Chief Rabbi or the SAJBD have a hateful agenda. Instead, I place them in the second category mentioned in my Thought Leader piece - those who are "unable to think beyond ideological and religious affiliations".


Jonathan Berger you continually indulge in projection. As Mike puts it - look in the mirror.
Your tone of condescension and dismissiveness to Jews who don't tow the line of useful idiot status (the kindest thing I can say about you) to the Muslim Jihad, ie Jews like yourself, is grating in the extreme. And that's the kindest thing I can say.

Mike Berger (I assume no relation!) over at his blog gets it (unlike many even so-called pro Israel supporters in SA and on this blog who just don't get it...still)

Mike Berger is sadly one of few Jews in South Africa who really gets it. Read what he has to say about Geffen and his ilk (that includes Berger) over at his blog in an open letter to Mike (and IAS by association), and how polite discourse with the likes of Berger and Geffen and the rest of them is NOT the way to go GIVEN WHAT IS AT STAKE for crying out loud and what the implications of the rhetoric of Geffen and the like (including of course Berger's) translates to in the long run.

Mike Berger puts my thoughts to words much more eloquently and succintly than I ever could. I put up some excerpts here (I'm sure Berger won't mind)


Dear Michael

While I admire your commitment to civil discourse, I fear that in this instance the beneficiary (or beneficiaries) of your goodwill do not merit it.

Let us be clear: this is not some academic debate being conducted between scholars in which normative standards of mutual respect are in order. Geffen et al are "activists" in a context in which Israel (a tiny Jewish state of less that 6 m Jews) is under constant, potentially genocidal pressure from those who hate not only the "Zionist" (ie. Jewish) state but Jews in general. Part of the strategy of such groups, given the military superiority of Israel, is to mobilise world opinion against Israel.

This has a number of ends in view. One is to pressure countries and political leaders to adopt at worst neutral stances in this struggle but, even better, to adopt actively hostile policies towards Israel. So far it hasn't really worked to the full, but it has stopped the West from openly labelling a spectrum of groups mainly, though not exclusively, from within Islam as the atavistic, fanatical and genocidal movements that they are. The second is to demoralise and divide Jews both within Israel and outside so as to wring "concessions" and hopefully, eventually, see the disintegration of the entire Zionist enterprise - and in the even longer term who knows? Of course, such tactics include economic pressure as well as political and social pressure.....


Read the rest of Mike Berger's letter at his blog and what he has to say about this gang of bully boys (that's you Berger and Geffen and others like-minded) and what their rhetoric and actions really mean in the long-run and BECAUSE of what their rhetoric translates to, why polite civil discourse is not the way to go. For crying out loud. Given all that has happened the past few days with Geffen and his's time to take the blinkers off.


I want to add some other excerpts from Mike Berger's letter to Mike here, because many SA even pro-Israel Jews just don't get it. Read the following and digest it. Everything Mike Berger writes here needs to be digested and followed up on, and not just forgotten about next week.

I put up these excerpts because they are the most germane I have read by far on this whole Geffen and Berger kerfluffle.

Mike Berger writes:

"Such Jews, and they are neither insignificant in number or in influence, are beyond the pale of polite discourse. "Useful idiots" is too polite and they are, in one sense, not idiots. They are a 5th column within Jewry.

"Let us be clear on this. It is not their views which are the primary issue. They are entitled to these (even where grievously mistaken) just as others are entitled to vigorously challenge them. Nor are the actions and attitudes of Israel immune from debate and even opprobrium (though I would recommend a measure of humility in the face of complexity and distance).

"It is their actions - their public, persistent, insidious participation in the demonisation of Israel in the prevailing political context which renders them beyond the pale of our consideration. It is their political evangelism within the Jewish community and especially the youth which deserves unambiguous repudiation."

Wessel van Rensburg

Since you mentioned it I was wondering whether you knew how many 'political' deaths there were in South Africa from 1948 to 1994 according to the TRC?

About 24 000. Of which almost half was from 1990 - 1994, the time when De Klerk was in power. Not that I'm saying all those deaths were De Klerk's fault mind you.

If you wanted to choose a Nationalist to represent you I would most definitely choose Vorster. By far the most intelligent of the bunch, his family suffered heavy in the concentration camps, he was the architect of detente with Africa and the approach to Isreal. A troubled and most interesting guy.

What I find interesting is that you guys at Supernatural on the one hand unthinkingly still dismiss *all* the Nationalists said and stood for and then defend Israel.

What is the key difference exactly? Please explain.


Wessel I don’t see why my support for Zionism should equate to support for the Nationalist Party under Apartheid. I would certainly have voted PFP or before that UP. The entire system of Apartheid is an anathema to my world-view. I believe in the power of liberty both economic and political to positively transform society. The nationalist party represented the opposite. Their limitation on a host of freedoms, particularly for Blacks, but for Whites as well is something I could never have supported. Does this mean I opposed everything every Nationalist prime minister ever did. Of course not. Most but not all. I can think of Vorster’s decision to put sanctions on Rhodesia as one in particular.
If you have specific problems with Israel and Zionism I would be happy to address them.

Wessel van Rensburg

Apartheid was built on a few corner stones. One of them was a crude racism not dissimilar in some ways to that found in the USA up to the 1960's. In other respects it was a very different beast.

One of the the main ones were a primal fear on the part of the Nationalists for the survival of whites in Africa. More specifically it was also calculatted to preserve and protect Afrikaners. Herman Gioliomee sums up this attitude:

"Afrikaner nationalists argued that their survival as a volk was inseparable from maintaining racial exclusivity, and that apartheid was the only policy that systematically pursued that end. But apartheid with its racist outcomes was not a goal in itself; political survival was."

That is one of the reasons Vorster felt he could help Rhodesia buckle. He felt no great compulsion to help Rhodesians who, although white, were English and not Afrikaners. And it would give the Afrikaner state time to regroup.

Vorster himself said that Afrikaners should be very weary as once thy have relinquished power, they will never get it back. He also claimed, for all their faults, their regime were more democratic and accountable than a one person one vote system will be.

And Alistair Sparks echoed him recently in Business Day:

"Think back to the great Information Scandal. Muldergate. A puny affair in both moral and monetary terms compared with the arms deal, but it brought down the Vorster government. John Vorster, he of the 90-day and 180-day detention laws, the creator of BOSS and the condoner of torture, the most feared man of his time, was kicked upstairs into a ceremonial presidency while his two cohorts, Connie Mulder and Eschel Rhoodie, were dismissed into obscurity. There was justice and closure in those evil times."

Not unlike claims by pro-Isrealis now that for all its faults Israel is a democracy, surrounded by very illiberal states.

Is Israel a perfect democracy? No. Besides the point that the majority of Palestinians are not considered to be citizens (something apartheid tried but failed to achieve in SA) Israeli Arabs are discriminated against.

If they grow as a proportion of the population you can expect this second class citizenship to become more entrenched. In South Africa, coloureds had seats the the tri-cameral parliament because they were a minority vis-a-vis whites.

One oft repeated fact is how the Nationalists abolished good private and missionary schools for black South Africans. What is not mentioned is that school attendance for black South Africans was also made compulsory.

On current evidence Rhoda Kadalie concedes that Bantu education served our population better than that of the current government.

Giliomee again: "Black disposable personal income increased 84.2% between 1960/80 (although from an admittedly low base), while white disposable income increased by only 47.6%. By 1980 black income was 10.6% of whites; it had been only 8.5% in 1960. Interestingly, the groups which did best in economic terms during the apartheid era were the country's Asian and Coloured populations: disposable income among Asians increased 160% between 1960/1980 and nearly 97% for Coloureds in the same period. Reflecting the trusteeship element of apartheid, the number of African children in schools increased 250% in the 25 years following the initiation of apartheid. Finally, contrary to the notion that South Africa was a police state, it actually had fewer police per thousand in the population (1.4) in the early 1980s than the U.K. (2.4), Northern Ireland (5.7), or the Soviet Union (16.0). Similarly, the country's military spending, at 13% of the national budget in the 1980s, was not as high as that of countries such as Zimbabwe (17%) or Israel (25%)."

Does this mean the Nationalists were angels and apartheid good. Like Giliomee I agree that nothing can measure the psychological damage it did.

But the similarities with Israel is striking and in some respects both the founding of Isreal and the legacy on the non-Isrealites are much worse.

So I would suggest, that instead of knee jerk statements of how bad the Nationalists were, you would do better to actually try and read up on what they actually did.

There might be a lesson in it for you.

Wessel van Rensburg

To labour my point. In today's Business Day John Kane-Berman makes a point which underlines my argument:

"Helen Suzman, who died on January 1, used to say that she had an easier job than opposition MPs have today, because the Speaker protected her rights and the National Party (NP) respected Parliament as an institution."

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