F.W. de Klerk, who as South Africa’s last apartheid president oversaw the end of the country’s white minority rule, has died at the age of 85. In a pre-recorded message to the South African Nation, de Klerk apologised “unreservedly” for the pain and suffering caused by South African Apartheid. Read more…
Israeli politicians are fond of saying that they have “no peace partner” on the Palestinian side. “Where is the Palestinian Mandela?”, they frequently ask.
The death of F. W. de Klerk on November 10th raises the opposite question: “Where is the Israeli politician who will end Israeli apartheid? Where is the Israeli de Klerk?“
The former president’s foundation released a pre-recorded farewell message after his death was announced Thursday, in which de Klerk says he “defended separate development in his early years” but “had a conversion” in the 1980s and realized apartheid was wrong.
“I, without qualification, apologize for the pain and the hurt and the indignity and the damage that apartheid has done to black, brown and Indians in South Africa,” a frail-looking de Klerk says in the undated video.
De Klerk remains a controversial figure in South Africa, of course. For a small fringe of white supremacists, he is still seen as a traitor and a renegade.
And many Black South Africans remember painfully the role that de Klerk played in sustaining apartheid.
Commenting on de Klerk’s video, South African journalist Redi Thihabi reflected the thoughts of many Black South Africans in an article in the Washington Post: “Words he wouldn’t utter before, flowing from his mouth with ease. Perhaps the certainty of death and mortality allows us all to reconsider many of our harmful positions. But de Klerk goes to his grave with many untold secrets, and without properly and honestly accounting to families whose loved ones were murdered by the party and government he served for decades.”
But, whatever his morals and motivations, de Klerk did the deed. He sat down and negotiated an end to apartheid in South Africa. Where is Israel’s de Klerk?
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
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