Co-Author Suraya Dadoo speaks to the Rising Sun newspaper  about the book Why Israel?, written from a South African perspective…

Zaakirah Vadi

Rising Sun

24 July 2013

“It’s not meant to preach to the converted.” This is Suraya Dadoo’s view about the recently published book, Why Israel?

Together with her co-author, Firoz Osman, Dadoo produced the 659 page book providing answers as to why Israel is compared to apartheid South Africa.

Dadoo, a Media Review Network researcher since 2003, says that the book caters for a large audience. “It isn’t for any specific audience, but can be used by anyone from a trade unionist to a Moulana, as well as a Zionist,” she emphasises. “We want the book to be scrutinised and there must be debate around it.”

Why Israel? is a culmination of the MRN’s work since 1996. Initially, it was supposed to be a booklet, but as we delved into the issues, Firoz and I realised that it has to be a pure book,” she explains.

Using academic analysis, articles, blogs, commentaries and NGO reports, the book has a multifaceted focus.

It explains the origins of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, gives a comparison of apartheid South Africa and Israel, internal and international resistance against Israel, and the future of Palestine.

Why Israel? gives a detailed account of the South African Zionist lobby and what it calls its “AIPAC strategy”. It also explores the history of the Palestinian solidarity movement in the country.

Local activists would find it interesting that the book captures individual South African experiences and successes in the campaign for a free Palestine.

A highlight from these individual cases for Dadoo is the story about Layla Cassim. Age 14 in 1998, Cassim attended a Johannesburg School “and was suspended after challenging the Zionist perspective on the founding of the State of Israel in a history assignment.”

“We’ve also tried to make the book as current as possible, with some of the incidences mentioned having occurred in 2013,” Dadoo notes.

With its catchy black and red cover, the book also includes a map showing how Palestinian land was taken over by Israel.

The book itself sports an easy to read font, with pictures and interesting quotations enlarged.

But anything of the magnitude of this book requires time, and it took the co-authors three years to put the information together. A mother of two, Dadoo says that the assignment was completed in between school runs, and often burning the midnight oil. “My co-author is a doctor, so for him it was working in between patients,” she says.

Dadoo adds though, that help from local and international organisations such as the Palestine Solidarity Alliance assisted greatly.

But there was a ‘low-light’ for Dadoo in the production of Why Israel? “While working on the book, a definite low-light was that sometimes people became statistics and the issues desensitised,” she explains.

From an emotional point of view though, Dadoo says that she was most affected by the stories of Palestinian women and children in Israeli prisons.

Why Israel? is expected to be sold at all books stores nationwide. “The e-version of the book is available, and we hope to get hard copies in municipal and university libraries as well,” Dadoo states.

While the author says that she is a bit anxious about reaction to the book, she adds that she knows what to expect from people with opposing views.

Dadoo, who graduated with a Masters in Sociology, says that the Palestinian issue interested her for a long time. “I schooled at Chatsworth High, which was a very politically active school, where I was made aware of human rights and civil issues.

“As South Africans, the world spoke for us when we had no voice, therefore it is incumbent on every South African to speak up for others against apartheid,” she ends.