John Pilger

Freedom next time

Britain is a principal architect of the historic disaster in Palestine. In 1917, with an eye to establishing a client state in the Middle East to watch over the Suez Canal and Britain's trade routes to India, the Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour promised a 'national home for the Jewish people' in Palestine, adding that 'nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities.' Some historians regard it as the Zionist lobby's greatest victory. 72

I asked Charity what she would say to Mandela and Tutu, who insisted that criminal justice was not necessary, that amnesty and reconciliation were 'enough.'

'One has the feeling,' she replied, 'that if Mandela's son had been killed in the way our children were killed or if Archbishop Tutu's son had been killed, they wouldn't be talking like that. They have every right to forgive their own torturers and jailers, but they have no right to forgive and protect Sizwe's killers and deny his family justice.'

'What is justice to you?'

'Justice is bringing the murderers to court, trying them, convicting them, punishing them. I don't want them hanged. That is not the point. I want justice, not retribution. 223

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's terms were defined so narrowly that the ANC's 'historic' political compromise became an historic moral compromise. Not only was Dirk Coetzee allowed to brag about his 'adventures' on television and disingenuous generals to drone on about the meaning of 'eliminate,' most South African whites and their institutions were allowed to pretend, like good Germans, that they had opposed apartheid all along. 227

What South Africa has in abundance is a force called ubuntu, a humanism that is never still, having survived the brutalities of industrialization and apartheid and now the dismay of renewed economic apartheid. Ubuntu is a subtle concept from the Nguni languages that says a person's humanity is expressed through empathy and solidarity with others. Through community and standing together. A Xhosa proverb is 'Ubuntu ungamntu ngabanye abantu'--'People are people through other people.'

The generosity is astonishing. I failed to meet a black South African who dreamt of revenge: of persecuting whites, as whites had persecuted blacks. Yes, crime is a huge problem, not surprisingly, given the great state crimes that devastated whole generations and have gone unpunished, and not excusing the heists and crimes of greed. Behind their walls and dogs, those whites who neither expected nor deserved so painless a transition from the atrocities of apartheid have yet to appreciate the second chance they have been given. 246