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Anti-apartheid South African Author Warns Against Breaking Ties with S.a.

J. M. Coetzee, the outspoken anti-apartheid South African author, warned here that breaking ties with the Pretoria regime would be counter-productive for countries hoping to use their influence to bring about changes in South Africa.

Coetzee, who was awarded the Jerusalem Prize at the International Book Fair in Jerusalem last Thursday, said at a press conference that he believed that in general, foreign countries should try to influence South African policies while retaining contacts with the country. He said he was not sufficiently informed to comment on Israel’s relations with South Africa.

“I think pressure should be exercised, but I think it would be unfortunate if pressure was exercised in such a way that the power and ability of Western countries to exercise pressure were cut off by their own acts,” Coetzee said.

“That is to say, if country X were to terminate all relations with South Africa, and that termination were to end the ability of country X to continue to influence affairs in South Africa, it seems to me not a particularly wise procedure,” the author explained.

He spoke of the impact of apartheid on white youths and children in his country. “I think it comes to children as a moment of profound shock in their personal psychological development at the instant they realize there are, in fact, two kinds of people in the world,” Coetzee said.

Asked why the South African authorities have not censored his vehemently anti-apartheid novels, Coetzee said they probably decided that authors have no political influence.

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