Jonathan Cook: the Blog from Nazareth - www.jonathan-cook.net

J M Coetzee speaks his mind on Israel

The South African novelist and Nobel-laureate J M Coetzee rarely makes public statements, so it is great to hear him speaking out on Palestine on Thursday night in Ramallah at the close of this year’s Palfest literature festival.

Observing that it is not “a productive step” to compare Israel’s policies with those of apartheid South Africa, because it “diverts one into an inflamed, semantic wrangle”, he continues:

“Apartheid was a system of enforced segregation based on race or ethnicity put in place by an exclusive self-defined group in order to consolidate a colonial conquest, in particular to cement its hold on the land and its natural resources.

“To speak of Jerusalem and the West Bank, we see a system of enforced segregation based on religion and ethnicity put in place by an exclusive self-defined group to consolidate a colonial conquest, in particular to maintain, and indeed extend, its hold on the land and its natural resources.

“Draw your own conclusions.”

CORRECTION: My original transcription of Coetzee’s quote on apartheid wrongly referred to “religion and ethnicity”, and has been changed.

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