Our silence over Mandela’s support for Palestinians: Siddiqui
First off, in India at least, nobody seems to abide by the all-white dress code. People come wearing pretty much what they like, from jeans and kurtas, to saris and shorts, all in colours of their choosing. Many people dont even bother to sit through all the bhajans, leaving as soon as they have marked their attendance with the family. Those who do, fiddle discreetly with their phones, answering mails and sending smses so that they dont miss out on a single minute of a working day. And the close friends and family members who stay back for a cup of tea or coffee afterwards, shuffle awkwardly as they try and make conversation with the bereaved, and take off as soon as they can without violating the laws of common decency. Part of the problem, of course, is that all of us are, at some level, rendered acutely uncomfortable by death. There is an element of There, but for the grace of God, go I in our reactions to the news of someones passing. And in that maelstrom of emotions, we find it hard to negotiate the best way to communicate our sympathy to those who have lost a loved one. I am so sorry about your loss, sounds exactly like the cliche it is when we say it to someone who has lost a parent, a spouse, a sibling, or even worse, a child. But no matter how acutely we feel for them, we dont seem to have the vocabulary to express the depth of our feelings. And so, it just seems easier to just avoid any meaningful conversation until the worst of their grief has passed. But no matter how uncomfortable we feel, it behoves us to treat a funeral with proper respect. And that means turning up on time, instead of halfway through the prayer service.
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In fact, there are over 50 Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinians There are different rights and privileges for different categories of people that determine how and where they can live and work, with whom they can associate, where they can travel, whether they can live with their spouse, and so on. Permits for Palestinians to travel beyond their assigned areas are stringently controlled. The point was also made in June by the retired South African ambassador to Israel, Ismail Coovadia. Unlike Stephen Harper, who plans to visit a bird sanctuary in Israel named after him by the Jewish National Fund, Coovadia rejected the planting of trees in his honour by the Fund: I cannot be a proponent of what Ive witnessed in Israel a replication of apartheid . Mandela initially believed in Gandhian non-violence but took up arms in the 1960s, saying there is no moral goodness in using an ineffective weapon. He was the first commander of the military wing of the ANC, the Spear of the Nation, which hit power stations and planted bombs and landmines, and carried out some acts of violence against civilians, to little effect. But once he won, he did not make an issue of Israels ties with the apartheid regime. He accepted the legitimacy of Zionism, while upholding the rights of Palestinians: Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians. All of us need to do more in supporting the struggle of the people of Palestine for self-determination. In 1994, on the first weekend after his election as president, he visited a Cape Town synagogue. He appealed to South African Jewish expatriates to return home to help build the new nation, but made an exception for those Jews who left for their homeland, Israel. He had always been close to South African Jews. His first boss was Jewish Lazer Sidelsky, who hired him as a law clerk in the 1940s. (On his 1999 visit to Israel, Mandela met Sidelskys son, Barry). Mandela acknowledged that Jews were disproportionately represented among our white compatriots in the liberation struggle. In his 1994 autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, he wrote: I have found Jews to be more broad-minded than most whites on issues of race and politics. That liberal streak can be seen in the reaction to Netanyahus decision not go to the Mandela funeral, citing the high cost of the trip. The prime minister was signalling that Israel does not consider a man like Nelson Mandela worth the price of a plane flight, wrote Bradley Burston in the Israeli daily Haaretz.
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