Don’t take us for fools, Mr Mcebo Dlamini
Capetonian Zionist Mike Berger on Politicsweb today: “What the Wits SRC really admires in Mugabe and Hitler is their hatreds and ruthless cruelty” – an open letter to Mcebo Dlamini
Dear Mr Mcebo Dlamini
I together with some friends, all of us white and most of us Jewish, recently visited Sutherland, the home of SALT the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere situated on the summit of a koppie. There it stands surrounded by more than 15 other telescopes, host to a small international army of scientists, mathematicians, engineers and communication experts probing the secrets of the universe, of which we are an infinitesimally tiny part.
Together with the exquisitely delicate but intricate and robust technology on which this endeavour rests, the Sutherland hilltop represents all that is best and most hopeful in the imperfect human spirit: co-operation, focused intelligence, dedication and patience and the transcendence of the individual human ego in the service of something greater than any single individual, group or nation. Contemplation of this project, itself part of a global network of similar enterprises, and the infinitely fragile and precious nature of human consciousness induced in all of us a sense of awe and hope – but also a feeling of vulnerability.
RIGHT: Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini
To explain the sense of “vulnerability” further let me describe our trip home along the N1 freeway into Cape Town. Driving south one passes through impressive hills growing in stature into mountains until one suddenly bursts upon the vast fertile alluvial plain of De Doorns enclosed by the imposing barricades of ancient mountains. Within this valley is enclosed much that is inspiring and terrible in the South African story. Here it was that white farmers once forcibly dispossessed the previous indigenous inhabitants and inducted them into slavery.
But out of this historic injustice has arisen both the beautiful vineyards and wines of the valley and the vast inequalities still existing between the descendents of the white colonists and the Khoisan peoples who once roamed free over this valley and surrounding mountains.
And out of this injustice has also arisen the magnificent freeway connecting the hinterland with the coast, the spectacular railway and all the modalities of modern technology on which the future prosperity and hope of our country, South Africa rests.
It is simply impossible to contemplate a future deprived of the technology and expertise brought to these shores by Western culture, the same society responsible for the subjugation and oppression of the other inhabitants of this continent – the very same Western civilisation which is largely responsible for the Sutherland Observatory.
These painful paradoxes are a microcosm of the rest of South Africa, indeed much of Africa. It is acutely uncomfortable for most of us, but more especially for those who were once the conquered and oppressed. How do they embrace the skills, technology and indeed the cultural foundations which made this possible, while hating the actual people who brought both pain and salvation to their land?
All of us in the car driving home that day from Sutherland looked with a mix of foreboding and fragile hope at the task of building upon this flimsy structure a robust, prosperous and inclusive South Africa. I could not detect a trace of Adolf Hitler in any of us.
The realities of this fear was brought forcibly home to me when I listened to your interview on e-NCA. Under the pressure of public exposure you tried, totally unsuccessfully, to reduce your admiration of Adolf Hitler (and Robert Mugabe) to respect for their “charisma” and “organisational ability”.
Do you take the rest of us for fools Mr Dlamini, when we all know that what you admire in these two dictators is their hatreds and ruthless cruelty which mirror your own feelings as you expressed time and time again in the interview?
Have you ever heard of “projection” Mr Dlamini? It is the process whereby you superimpose on others the emotions which afflict your own personality. I watched you on television, a robust, casually but well-dressed young man of an age which made it impossible for you to have experienced directly the indignities and marginalisation of Apartheid. I respect your identification with your own people but much of your anger is second-hand, based on smatterings of history carefully selected to justify your self-righteous rage.
This is not to deny or minimise the reality of white racism, indeed of Jewish racism. The primitive emotion of racism is buried within the DNA of every human being, including black people. So please do not try to define the reality of black racism out of existence. No-one buys it except other racists or really foolish academics. It is culture, self-awareness and thoughtfulness that enable us to rise above our most primitive instincts to view other ethnicities and religions without stereotyping.
This is a complex and delicate undertaking which admittedly does not yield the emotional release of hatred and revenge, and none of us is perfect. But the choice is stark: your path, Mr Dlamini, will lead to the utter ruination of South Africa. You may have your revenge and perhaps you may be a “big man” in the new South Africa, the product of your “philosophy”. But for millions of your fellow blacks and for most of the peoples of this country your vision will be a nightmare from which they may not escape for centuries.
Perhaps I’m being incredibly naive Mr Dlamini. You are young but I think you’re potentially a much better man than the ignorant and hateful views you expressed on camera would suggest. So on that very flimsy basis, you are welcome at any time to visit my wife and me. We were the beneficiaries (as well as ardent opponents) of Apartheid but worked hard for our modest comfort. You will find that we are also pro-Israel and that our views on many things will differ profoundly from yours.
But you may be interested in our black grandchildren and the story of our lives and the contributions we both have made to the emergence of the new South Africa. And just possibly this experience will shatter the stereotypes you hold so close to your heart; the stereotypes that permit you to stigmatise whites in the manner you do; the stereotypes that enabled Hitler (whom you admire) to set out to systematically murder all Jews that he could lay his hands on from old men and women to the smallest babies – the same stereotypes that encourage Muslims to kill fellow Muslims, whites to kill blacks and black people to murder other black people. The stereotypes which Mr Mugabe uses to justify his corrupt dictatorship.
The shattering of self-justifying illusions is a painful experience but the invitation stands if you wish to avail yourself of it.
Looking for long lost family in Africa
I live in the United States, and recently found a letter and postcard that my late mother had shown me many years ago, but we didn’t put two and two together that we had lost family somewhere!
My mother, Anneliese Nossbaum (nee Winterberg), was from Germany. Although she never lived there (she and her parents lived first in Guben, then Bonn), the other Winterbergs lived in a town called Witzenhausen.
My mother was a Holocaust survivor, and several members of her family (including the Winterbergs) were interned or died in camps.
Her grandmother, Hannchen Winterberg (nee Lomnitz), had a brother, B. Lomnitz, who emigrated with his family to Africa before 1900. My mother knew that he lived in Johannesburg. Hannchen had three children:
Siegfried, my mother’s father, perished in Dachau.
Amalie married Moritz Vogel, who escaped to New York after Kristallnacht.
Gerda married Menna (Max) Goldschmidt, and since he was a communist, escaped with him first to what was then Palestine, and later to New York.
I was wondering if anyone knows the Lomnitz family, and how I could be in touch. They could be anywhere now, I know. I’m also writing to Yad Vashem to enquire what is known. I’d be happy to provide more information. – Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disparaging image contributes to stigma about weight
The article by Mirah Langer, “How COVID-19 lockdown turned eating upside down”, SA Jewish Report, 29 April, was well written, highlighting how people are struggling to maintain a healthy relationship with food and their bodies since the lockdown.
Unfortunately, the original online and print versions were accompanied by an awful image – one that perpetuates weight bias and weight stigma. I was relieved to see that the online image had already been changed by Friday, 30 April, however, the awful image made it to print.
I’m therefore writing this letter to educate those working in media and healthcare about the dangers of using images that depict people in larger bodies in a disparaging way as it contributes to weight bias and stigma. Weight bias is defined as negative, prejudiced attitudes about weight, with overt manifestations of weight stigma and discrimination.
Unfortunately, weight bias and stigma have a psychological and physical impact on health, contributing directly to anxiety, depression, disordered eating behaviours, high blood pressure, high cortisol levels, and systemic inflammation. To the person responsible for changing the image online so quickly, thank you for a job well done! – Gayle Landau, Registered non-diet dietician and certified intuitive eating counsellor, and member of Non-Diet South Africa for healthcare professionals
Looking for descendants of Lithuanian great-grandfather
I would be grateful for any information a reader may have as I search for descendants of my great-grandfather, Eliahu Zvi Bloch, a Kohen who lived in Anassisic/Anusshishok, Lithuania, near the Latvian border, from roughly 1820 to 1900.
My grandfather, Elchanon, the son of Eliahu Zvi and his third wife, Sarah Oralowich, who grew up in an orphanage, is the only one of the family who emigrated to the United States. I recall hearing that some of Elchanon’s siblings or half-siblings emigrated to South Africa in the first half of the last century.
I know very little else. I believe the family migrated to Lithuania from Germany around 1750 or 1800, that Eliahu Zvi’s father lived to be 100, and that Eliahu Zvi was 66 years old when my grandfather was born. It’s possible that some family members migrated to Israel, either prior to statehood or after living in South Africa. I would welcome any information, even if marginally related to my family, such as knowledge of life in Anassisic/Anusshishok. I live in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, and can be reached at email@example.com
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