Item Laurie_Nathan_interview_clip - Jews and the struggle for human rights, "Laurie Nathan interview"

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Jews and the struggle for human rights, "Laurie Nathan interview"

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Jonathan Ancer is a journalist, who has held various positions on a
variety of publications: reporter on The Star, editor of Grocott’s
Mail and crossword columnist for the Cape Times. He has won awards for
hard news journalism, feature writing and creative writing. He is the
author of Mensches In The Trenches - Jewish Foot Soldiers In The Anti-Apartheid Struggle (2022), The Victor Within (2000), Spy: Uncovering Craig Williamson
(2017) and Betrayal: The Secret Lives of Apartheid Spies (2019).

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Laurie Nathan was born in 1959 and grew up in Sea Point in Cape Town. He went to school at Weitzman Primary and SACS and then studied at the University of Cape Town (UCT) where he completed business science and law degrees, followed by a Master’s in Philosophy at Bradford University's School of Peace Studies, and a doctorate from UCT.
Nathan became politically conscious at UCT and joined the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS). He was elected to the Student Representative Council (SRC) as the education officer in 1979 and the following year became SRC president. He was a founding member of the End Conscription Campaign (ECC), which opposed the system of compulsory military service for white men, and served as the organisation’s national organiser. The ECC was banned in 1988 and Nathan went into hiding to evade arrest. After the unbanning of the ANC he worked as a policy researcher, focusing on the legislative and policy dimensions of intelligence and defence transformation. He headed up the Centre for Conflict Resolution and became a senior mediation adviser to the United Nations and the African Union. He is based at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame University, where he is the directior of the mediation programme.

In this interview, Laurie Nathan talks about growing up in a liberal Jewish family in Cape Town and the three specific turning points in his life that led to his decision to become a fulltime political activist. He also explains how the formation of the End Conscription Campaign (ECC) came about and reflects on the debates among the left around the issue of conscription into the South African Defence Force. He discusses the role of the ECC to mobilise the white community against apartheid and how it reached into the liberal sector of the white community for support in order to broaden its appeal. He also talks about being recruited into the ANC underground.
Nathan discusses his post-apartheid work as a policy researcher around security sector reform, focusing on the legislative and policy dimensions of intelligence and defence transformation. He discusses growing up with a Jewish sense of justice and hatred of injustice and talks about his “complicated” relationship with Judaism and his views on Israel. He also talks about the anger of the members of the Fallist Movement and reflects on post-apartheid South Africa that has gone from being a model democracy to a country in crisis [Written by: Jonathan Ancer].

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Donated by The South African Jewish Museum


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Unless otherwise stated the copyright of all material on the Jewish Digital Archive Project resides with the South African Jewish Museum.

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