Excerpt and Interview: Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s The Unspoken Alliance
Sasha Polakow-Suransky, Senior Editor at Foreign Affairs, has stirred up the past with the release of The Unspoken Alliance, a book which reveals a rather sinister side to Israel’s relationship with South Africa. Read the book’s prologue below, courtesy Mondoweiss, followed by video interview in which Amy Goodman talks to Polakow-Suransky on Democracy Now!.
From The Unspoken Alliance, Prologue, by Sasha Polakow-Suransky
On April 9, 1976, South African prime minister Balthazar Johannes Vorster arrived at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem with full diplomatic entourage in tow. After passing solemnly through the corridors commemorating those gassed in Auschwitz and Dachau, he entered the dimly lit Hall of Remembrance, where a memorial flame burned alongside a crypt filled with the ashes of Holocaust victims. Vorster bowed his head as a South African minister read a psalm in Afrikaans, the haunting melody of the Jewish prayer for the dead filling the room. He then kneeled and laid a wreath, containing the colors of the South African flag, in memory of Hitler’s victims. Cameras snapped, dignitaries applauded, and Israeli officials quickly ferried the prime minister away to his next destination. Back in Johannesburg, the opposition journalist Benjamin Pogrund was sickened as he watched the spectacle on television. Thousands of South African Jews shared Pogrund’s disgust; they knew all too well that Vorster had another, darker past.
In addition to being the architect of South Africa’s brutal crackdown on the black democratic opposition and the hand behind many a tortured activist and imprisoned leader, Vorster and his intelligence chief, Hendrik van den Bergh, had served as generals in the Ossewa Brandwag, a militant Afrikaner nationalist organization that had openly supported the Nazis during World War II.
- The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa by Sasha Polakow-Suransky
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