Present ANC of self-interest has lost Madiba’s vision

  • Ben
As a young rabbi, and assistant to the late Chief Rabbi Louis Isaac Rabinowitz, of blessed memory, in the 1950s, I was present when, on numerous occasions, he unleashed attacks on the apartheid system, led by Dr D F Malan.
by RABBI BEN ISAACSON | Apr 20, 2016

He was adamant that Judaism was totally opposed to the vicious race policies supported by most South African whites, including the majority of his own congregants and synagogue officers. He especially stressed the ethical teachings of the Hebrew prophets on justice, equality and love of the poor. Thus, he concluded that no Jew had a right to be a racist.

He told me to continue his path, no matter what the consequences. I was only too happy to do so and, in 1958, at the age of 22, I became associated with the white affiliate of the ANC, known as the Congress of Democrats and enjoyed the friendship of Struggle veterans Ben Turok, Ronnie Kasrils and many others.

During the Sharpeville uprising and the massacre of 69 black people I was questioned by the security police. They did not harm me physically, but my young wife was terrified for months to come.

My congregants of the Krugersdorp Hebrew Congregation were not impressed and I was ordered to cease my activities or leave. I took the latter path.

From then on, my life was a continuous tale of appointments and dismissals. I regularly received anonymous phone calls and even death threats.

I took my family to Israel for a few years where I taught at a school. But I missed South Africa. While we were secure in Israel, I was missing my friends in the Struggle.

I was offered a post in Johannesburg: Nothing had changed, quite the contrary. South Africa in the ‘70s was a fascist state in the hands of tyrants. The Struggle had to go on and as the armed struggle intensified, so did my attacks on the regime.

Groups of congregants joined together to get me dismissed. They succeeded. A small group of supporters tried to form a congregation but ít did not last long.

On the other hand, I received warmth and support from where it counted. Great leaders of the Struggle such as “Oom Bey”, Dr Beyers Naude; the then Archbishop Desmond Tutu (with whom I prayed and fasted); Helen Joseph and others, stood at my side. “Oom Bey” even provided me with some financial help. He was one of the great Christians of our time.

Out of work and with family obligations, I had no choice but to go into self-imposed exile in Zimbabwe, where the late Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris, of blessed memory, had arranged for me to receive a congregational appointment.

It was there that I mixed with various exiles, including Thabo Mbeki, whom I entertained in my home. I also became a card-carrying member of the ANC.

The greatest honour I received in Zimbabwe was from the Catholic Church in recognition of my role in the Struggle. It was a special audience with Pope John Paul 11, who was on a visit. This truly great man was so warm that I could feel it long afterwards.

When Madiba was released, I was able to return home. It was a great day for me, especially since I had been active in the “Release Mandela” campaign.

But I am no longer a member of the ANC and will not be voting for them. Today, they have no regard for the welfare of those who supported the Struggle at great cost - be they Jew, Christian or Muslim - or whatever.

Do I regret my actions and suffering in the Struggle? I am not alone, but among those who fought - not for the reward - but because it was the right thing to do.

Nelson Mandela’s vision was beautiful - injustice and racism had to be removed, if necessary by force.

A then hero of the Struggle, now President Jacob Zuma, and his brainwashed mass following, are tragically leading the country downwards, towards a black fascism and racism, which replaces the white one. It worships the leadership even to the extent of trampling on the country’s most precious document - the Constitution.

The Zuma government has led the country to the brink of economic collapse, being adjudged in many parts of the world as a junk state.

The cost of living is rising from day to day. It has become the done thing to blame white business interests for everything, but many white businessmen play a major role in investment in the country, whereas the number of black millionaires and billionaires increase by the year.

In the meantime, there is a surplus of millions of township dwellers who live in dire poverty, without water, healthcare and sanitation. Education is almost a lost cause, with black children being taught by inexperienced and unqualified teachers. Lower matric results are the inevitable outcome. Unemployment has become an everyday situation in most South African families.

I will celebrate Freedom Day as if Nelson Mandela and his colleagues were with us. It would help if the present ANC would go back into exile!


1 Comment

  1. 1 nat cheiman 21 Apr
    Brilliantly written and well said


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