Quote of the week

Remedial or restitutionary equality are not in themselves a deviation from, or invasive of, the right to equality guaranteed by the Constitution. They are not “reverse discrimination” or “positive discrimination” … They are integral to the reach of our equality protection… Equality before the law protection in section 9(1) and measures to promote equality in section 9(2) are both necessary and mutually reinforcing but may sometimes serve distinguishable purposes.. However, what is clear is that our Constitution and in particular section 9 thereof, read as a whole, embraces for good reason a substantive conception of equality inclusive of measures to redress existing inequality. Absent a positive commitment progressively to eradicate socially constructed barriers to equality and to root out systematic or institutionalised under-privilege, the constitutional promise of equality before the law and its equal protection and benefit must, in the context of our country, ring hollow.

Moseneke DCJ
Minister of Finance and Other v Van Heerden (CCT 63/03) [2004] ZACC 3
18 January 2024

On victimhood and guilt

Netanyahu has been brandishing Amalek in the wake of the Hamas attack. The logic of this legend, as he wields it—that Jews occupy a singular place in history and have an exclusive claim on victimhood—has bolstered the anti-antisemitism bureaucracy in Germany and the unholy alliance between Israel and the European far right. But no nation is all victim all the time or all perpetrator all the time. Just as much of Israel’s claim to impunity lies in the Jews’ perpetual victim status, many of the country’s critics have tried to excuse Hamas’s act of terrorism as a predictable response to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Conversely, in the eyes of Israel’s supporters, Palestinians in Gaza can’t be victims because Hamas attacked Israel first. The fight over one rightful claim to victimhood runs on forever.

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