My letter to Business Day in response to Jonny Steinberg was not published. I approached Shaun de Waal of the M & G, a journalist/writer whom I respect, for permission to write an article for publication roughly along the lines of the post, Sinister Innocence, which I sent him for reference. (I pointed out that as it stood it was merely a guide to the form the article would take, that it was not suitable as it stood for newspaper publication). I reproduce below the reply I received:
I think I said that, as far as the comment pages were concerned, we'd want
to steer clear of Israel/Palestine unless there was something new to be
said. Drew's piece was a piece of colourful, analytical reporting from "on
the ground" in the West Bank -- and it wasn't in the opinion pages, so
qualified as a news feature.
What we don't want is more of the generalised, almost abstract debate about
the issues, the kinds of opinions that we've all seen before, which tend to
take up old attitudes and then turn into a ping-pong match of pro and anti.
Such pieces need to be anchored in specific events. They need to analyse
actual goings-on, new developments etc, in a hard-headed way, rather than
simply reproducing the usual rhetoric without a hook to the news. That's the
I agree that the debate is useless, because it goes round and round --
witness the Kasrils et al correspondence in the letters pages. The news and
other pages will obviously reflect any fresh developments, and the opinion
section should, I feel, contain proper analysis of those developments. My
own feeling is that our comment pages in general should be more analytical
in relation to specific events rather than simply broad opinions on ongoing
So far I have not responded to de Waal. But this weekend, Mondli Makhanya, the chief editor of the Sunday Times, published a long Opinion piece entitled "The never-ending face-off". (It can be accessed here. If this doesn't work try cutting and pasting http://www.monitoringsa.com/PDFS/2008_07_27_342496.pdf and if that also fails, write me - as a last resort please.
I reproduce my response to the Makhanya article below. I did not attempt to soften my sense of outrage, which some of you may feel is undiplomatic. But I am sick of the closed minds of Israel's detractors and don't believe a mutually civil dialogue can be established with the wilfully blind. I write to the press, not with any illusion of getting through, but simply not to allow vile slanders to pass without comment. It is a painful job.
To the Sunday Times:
“The primary intention of our visit to
But the Palestinians (here also include other Arab-Muslim groups) did not especially want statehood; they wanted the destruction of