Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, October 24, 2005

A South African role in the Middle East
There is a very interesting article in today's Houston Chronicle about the need for the PLO to learn from the South African example, and the differences between the PLO and the ANC in both policy and ideology. It's written by Dennis Ross, who was Clinton's envoy to the Middle East, and who highlights the lessons that have not be learnt by the PLO, and the need for some South African assistance in solving the Middle East peace issue from the Palestinian side:

"The South Africans are far less reticent, especially in challenging those who call for violence, and they are likely to be taken seriously by the Palestinian public. I know from my conversations with members of South Africa's government in Pretoria this summer that they are interested in playing a role — an interest that they have signaled in several venues, including meetings with Palestinian and Israeli officials.

Now is perhaps the time for a visit to Ramallah by Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's president, to share his country's experience and its lessons for the Palestinians.

No one can question whether South Africans struggled. No one can doubt the moral authority of their words. And no one can more forcefully offer a successful and nonviolent pathway to national liberation and a government of basic decency."

I think that's a very good call, and one which would undoubtedly attract Mbeki, given his penchant for - and success in - foreign diplomacy initiatives. I'm not a supporter of the methodologies or policies used by the PLO, and I do view the Palestinians as obstructionists to peace, but any effort that South Africa can play in this regard, especially given its strong ties with the PLO, I will support.