Have Your Say

Read what other people have to say about the film and the issues. At the bottom of this page you can add your comments.


  1. Toby
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Forty years ago I participated in hundreds of abortions. When I graduated, from nursing school, the experience became a non-thought for me. I do not think I was troubled at all by my participation in it. I cared for my patients – the ones I could see – so I was not totally lacking in ethical formation. Fifteen years later, during a religious conversion, I went through a night of dreaming about dead babies. Because of the understanding that came from that experience, I became pro-life. However, I did not become a zealous activist until old age, as I have relinquished other responsibilities.
    I think the 40 year dormant period for Dr. Bloch is significant. His experiences, at 15 and 23, were merely stepping stones to the wisdom he has now. Much of the forgiveness in S. Africa has been between victims and perpetrators. It is necessary, to understand how the rest of us become part the silent majority. In airing these questions, Dr. Block provides an important contribution to discussions about why evil flourishes when good men, and women, do nothing. This is a gift for subsequent generations to unwrap

  2. sidney bloch
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Dear Ian,
    I very much appreciate your points. Rod has responded to them just as I would but just to reiterate, my encounter with Prof Ed Coetzee was a great revelation and perhaps, as I state in the film, the most important lesson I learned.

    As Rod has commented, we could not tackle the complexity of the Israel-Palestine saga. I do believe that there is right on both sides. I myself am strongly opposed to the settlement policy which I believe has been misguided and totally unacceptable.

  3. Posted December 6, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Dear Ian,
    I’m very interested in the voice of young Afrikaners and don’t know of much work on the subject. I agree that there were victims of the system on all sides, not just the obvious ones. In the Facing The Past workshop in the film, held at the Cape Town Holocaust Centre, they discuss the various aspects of being a perpetrator, victim or bystander. One person may be each of those at any particular time. We did film a sequence with 3 Corrective Services offices, not included in the film for reasons of time, in which two of the (‘white’) men talked about feeling victims of the system with no choices, e.g. forced to be in the army, and feeling powerless. There are many more films to be made and books to be written reflecting on these experiences and I thank you for your perspective.
    A question – where did you see the film?

  4. Ian van Zyl
    Posted December 5, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Dear Rod,

    Thank you for your reply. And also for placing an unmoderated version of my post of yesterday. I only read after I had posted my comment that you wrote a response earlier in which you stated that the comments section was not intended as a platform for Israeli-Palestinian debate. So I appreciate that I was allowed expression of my thoughts. Sid managed to speak to Mr Coetzee, an Afrikaner from his own cohort. He also approached strangers, e.g. in the City Hall to ask them to share their thoughts. However, I feel that Afrikaners of my generation should equally have been given a voice. We were not the architects of Apartheid, though we are old enough to know what it was like to have lived through its heyday and its official end. Many of us feel that we were also victims of that system. It would be far too simplistic to suggest that all whites benefited from Apartheid. The only benefit I ever enjoyed was that I received a very sound education. For the rest, all Apartheid ever did for me was to brand me, stigmatise and demonise me. It was not something that I ever wanted. People have to understand that the system was imposed on us all, not just on blacks.

  5. Posted December 5, 2011 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Dear Ian,
    Thank you for your comments. The complexities of Israel were not part of this film – one film can only be about so much.

    I grew up in South Africa. I recall that certain leaders of the Nationalist Party were knowns supporters of the Nazis and so that’s likely where that association of Afrikanerdom and Nazism came from. I think Sid discovered on this journey that these simplistic associations held by many of us who grew up in Apartheid -era South Africa are just that – superficial and untrue – but that we nevertheless, often succumb to these stereotypes. In my experience, meeting individuals and engaging with them as individuals helps to break down the stereotypes and generalities that are often the easy way out. This happens in the film throughout Sid’s various encounters, not least with ed Coetzee, the Afrikaner at the reunion. I think Sidney DID realise that the benefactors were all whites and that was one of the reasons for his feelings of guilt. If the film helps to bring out the complexities of the moral and ethical issues that existed at the time of Apartheid and which continue to resonate, then perhaps it can con tribute to understanding the past better and offering ideas on how to act in the present.
    Rod Freedman – Director, Wrong Side of the Bus

  6. Ian van Zyl
    Posted December 5, 2011 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    I am an Afrikaner born in 1977, having lived through the transition to democracy. By the time of the elections of 1994 I was just too young to be able to vote, as I only turned 18 the next year. Unlike Sidney, I did not ever have the option to leave the country. I stayed the full course of the end of Apartheid, the transitional period, CODESA, the new constitution, the start of democracy, etc. I find it shocking and disappointing that an equation is so easily drawn between Nazism and Apartheid, and between Nazis and Afrikaners. I would never defend Apartheid, but one has to be very cautious when making such a simplistic comparison. Extermination of ethnicities was NEVER part of the ideology of Apartheid, and people need to be made aware of this. I find it unacceptable that Afrikanerdom is equated with Nazism. Sidney seems to be filled with disbelief when people tell him that they have assigned Apartheid to the past, and that they have forgiven its wrongdoers. Why such disbelief? South Africans of ALL races and ethnicities have had to go through a process of getting to grips and coming to terms with Apartheid. Many are still paying the price of decades of state-sanctioned inequality, including my generation of Afrikaners who will as a result of the actions of generations before us NOT enjoy equal rights or access to employment. It is also sad that Sidney fails to realise that the benefactors of Apartheid were ALL whites, and not just the Afrikaners. I think that Sidney needs to see a much bigger picture. He left South Africa for Israel, another state in which gross inequality has been the order of the day for decades. What about the forced removals in Jerusalem when the Moroccan Quarter was demolished in 1967 in order to give religious Jews easier access to the Kotel? I find the whole documentary an easy way out for a man who realises his complacency in Apartheid, but completely negates and ignores his complacency in the Israeli situation of the past 40 or 50 years. Sidney, why say sorry for Distric Six in Cape Town but not for the Moroccan Quarter of Jerusalem? If you insist on equating Apartheid with Nazism and Afrikaners with Nazis, isn’t the logical extension of that equating Zionism with Nazism and Israeli Jews with Nazis too? I realise that this is a highly politicised question for which I will receive a lot of flak. But I really feel that you should think things through to their logical conclusions before you sensationalise just a selection from the bigger picture by shedding a few tears on camera in exchange for real suffering endured by those who did not, could not, or chose not to leave.

  7. Posted November 2, 2011 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    This powerful and insightful film allows viewers to explore our own positions, actions and opportunities in the attempt to champion for human rights. The intimate account explored in ‘Wrong side of the Bus’ is relatable and inspiring for all of us living in a world of political turmoil and struggle.

  8. Posted August 29, 2011 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    Wrong Side of the Bus is a very inspiring and beautifully made film. Marc did a great job with the cinematography, particularly the shots of Cape Town and surrounds. It appeals to my sense of creating meaningful oral and visual history that reflects the inner dilemmas of individuals who are willing to face their demons. I loved the father/son relationship. It was powerful, honest, intelligent and insightful. Congratulations to you as Producer/Director/Writer, as well as all your crew.

  9. rod
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink


    I found the film moving and thoughtful. I think us expats missed out on so much process which we would have done well to be involved in as the social and political landscape changed. I imagined (before my own visit last year) that I had more or less been kept informed of the changes. But that had not been on a personal level – how could it without being there? I felt others had outstripped me in their psychological adjustments and I had a lot of catching up to do. Like you I found the goodwill in every sector of the society overwhelming and it made me confident about the future for the place though it is still so dysfunctional, broken, chaotic and inequitable.

    My medium is writing so I’m producing a collection of essays to help me process all this, as I’m sure the film helped you.

    Thank you for the film, I’m sure many have been stimulated and confronted and perhaps comforted by it.

  10. rod
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink


    I really enjoyed it – very moving, especially when Sid turned the key to Mandela’s cell door and spoke with Modise at the end. I was interested to see how many of the people who have lived in South Africa throughout have made painful journeys and come to a place of forgiveness. The years between 1964 and now have obviously involved lots of dark nights of the soul and deliberate choices not to carry hate around (as shown by Themba and others).

    I found myself wishing Sid had returned long before now, for his own sake (though then we wouldn’t have had such an interesting tale, I suppose!)

    The conversations with Ed Coetzee were a real surprise, and a fascinating turn in the narrative.

  11. rod
    Posted March 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink


    There was intensity but never a sense of moral self-congratulation in your personal journey. Aaron’s role was interesting: self-styled adolescent sceptic at the outset, landing the odd jab on the Old Man’s jaw, he was clearly moved by the depth of your feelings of guilt and your need for reconciliation. A couple of those scenes in which you were deeply moved must have been emotionally challenging for him (?), but he retained his composure and, touchingly, his care for you throughout. He clearly grew through the experience.

    Two scenes stood out for me. The Synagogue-turned-rug shop and the key to Mandela’s former door. The latter was astounding. The revelations by your old Afrikaner university colleague was also very striking.

    The narrative has effective shape, two interestingly connected centres of interest (dad and son), the powerful interplay between Jewish and South African histories, some stunning footage of South Africa, and above all, a deep humanitarian ethos. It’s a rich document in all sorts of ways.

  12. rod
    Posted March 23, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink


    Last night I went to see “Wrong Side Of The Bus”, which was being shown as part of the Seattle Jewish Film Festival (http://www.seattlejewishfilmfestival.org/). I was very pleased to have had the opportunity to see it.
    It was a riveting and often moving documentary. Sidney showed great courage to confront his past decisions after wrestling with his conscience for 40 years. I also thought he was brave to calmly accept uncompromising criticisms on film from his son. The trip to South Africa must have been quite liberating for Sidney and enlightening for Aaron.
    For me, the take-home message was that it is not enough to feel guilt about regrettable decisions in the past. It’s more important to take action and change the direction of the future. Sidney’s resolve and compassion are inspirational. Please feel free to convey to him my admiring salute.

  13. Posted March 3, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Very well done and moving. Africa and its terrible past seems so similar to our racist country (USA) yet at the same time so distant and foreign. Your film personalized much of that era bring it to life and making it real. Thank you for sharing with us!

  14. Posted February 10, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    WJFF Year-Round

    January 2011 Screening
    I just want to thank all of you for making last night’s program such a wonderful event!! It all starts with a terrific film and filmmaker, of course. Thanks to you, Rod and also Lesley, for bring us this important film and arranging to be here for the screening. The comments about the film and your talk back have been so positive…and you really made some people think beyond just last evening!

  15. rod
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Freedman,
    We met last week at the Jewish Community Center in Washington DC after I had seen the movie “Wrong Side of the Bus”. For me it was a very interesting experience especially since I could relate to much of the content of the film.

    I too lived through the apartheid period and saw what was going on around me. So much time was taken up in those years protesting the system. Eventually in 1972 I left South Africa for Israel where I lived for about one year, finally ending up in the United States where I have now been for three decades.

    I too have struggled to come to terms with that which I left behind. Since I was a “white man” I never suffered the indignities of being on the other side of the color line. There was a sense that all of apartheid was a gross miscarriage of justice. When I was physically gone from the country I focused on adjusting to new environments.

    Then not too many years ago I saw some South African movies such as Maphantsula and Tsotsi. They were but mere glimpses into the lives of the Black and Colored peoples during that terrible period. No, it did not come as a surprise to me but it jolted me nonetheless. What could I now do to assuage my own guilt ?

    I embarked on a different route to Sidney Bloch. In Washington DC there is a large community of expatriate South African Blacks. During the last few years I have been involved with their activities helping to organize an annual picnic that is held in April of each year. My participation in other related social activities has been welcomed.

    Nonetheless I have traversed a difficult road. With the exception of one other individual I am the only “white” person who seems to turn up at some events. Do I feel like a stranger at times in their company? Yes, but nonetheless I persist because ultimately these are my people amongst whom I grew up. In the past I may have been the “baas”, not recognizing that those who the system designated as inferior were hurting.

    Yesterday when speaking to a colleague in Cape Town he passed a joke along to me. A black lady who had been the vice-president in South Africa came round a corner in a supermarket in Ausstralia. The woman was seen by a white Jewish lady who remarked “Hello Elizabeth, I am so pleased to see that you have come to this country. Can you come and work for me?”.
    It may sound funny but it reflects where the whites are today.

    Alles van die beste.
    Victor Miller

  16. Jennifer Henry
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Hurrah, Rod and bravo, Sid! I saw your magnificent film at the New York Jewish FF, and rode every wave with Sid. The lead-up to the planned class reconciliation statement (like a Rudd apology?) thought we might be careering towards a climax not unlike that described by Thea Astley in ‘A Kindness Cup’, but the final climax was unexpected, subtle and much deeper than any University ceremony.

    I loved seeing the cutaway shots of Sid at home and trams zooming past on sunny Melbourne days – it made me a little homesick.

  17. Gail Loon-Lustig
    Posted December 5, 2010 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    There were four of us, all ex Southern African friends (two from Bulawayo) who travelled from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to see your documentary this evening. We were all excited at the prospect of seeing the city on such a beautiful evening and being treated to a trip down memory lane ..
    For me, seeing the movie had a special significance having studied Medicine at UCT. I also left immediately after my studies in 1976 for Israel where I still live.
    I thought that the movie successfully depicted Sidney`s search for understanding and forgiveness (though i`m not sure this was his intention at the outset) of the stance he took as a young man living in Apartheid South Africa .
    His upbringing was certainly not very unusual for a nice Jewish boy growing up at the foot of Table Mountain; lots of traditional values and observations, Habonim providing the creative, ideological, energizing side to his life, a secure family life with parents expecting him to perform well and observe the norms of the society they represented.
    What is often forgotten is the price the White, priveleged youth of the times paid: no freedom of speech; no freedom of relationships; no affirmation of differences in opinion as is observed in democratic systems.
    We grew up in a conservative, limiting society. When Sidney goes back to Cape Town, he expresses the torment he felt as a youth there. His son, Aaron, is the antithesis of how he was at the same age -confident, outspoken, sure of his ideas and filled with a sense of freedom that his father lacked.
    I think that this movie should be a spring-board for discussions and debate amongst former South Africans who went through the upheaval of leaving their yourth behind prematurely.
    There hasn`t ever been a “Truth Commission for Whites” – somehow the pain that they suffered was pale in comparison to that of the oppressed; but then who says opression depends on physical limitations only?
    Perhaps many of us had imaginary ropes preventing us from feeling free in the other sense of the word?
    Thanks for the movie, it felt as comfortable as sitting in my own home having our Friday family together.

  18. rod
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Dr. MICHELE A. MOSS – Calgary, Alberta, CANADA

    Dear Professor Bloch,
    I have just come back from watching The Wrong Side of the Bus …it was shown at our Jewish Film Festival in Calgary, Alberta Canada. Kol Hakavod to you and your son for this fantastic documentary.
    I wanted to talk to you and hope you do not think I am being too forward…
    I was born into a white, middle class Jewish family in Plumstead and was schooled at Wynberg Girls. My father was a GP who worked in Retreat ( got special permission to have his surgery in a Non-White area). I went on housecalls with him, as a little girl, into the shanties in Steenberg and Retreat…I would carry his bag for him…I SAW how they lived, in the shanties, with no running water, no electricity, sand for a yard….I HEARD how they called him from the nearest “tikkie box” a ten minute walk away…

    I too attended the University of Cape Town Medical School. In my small group of 6 around the cadaver in our second year, there were 5 Jews…myself and 4 male friends…and 1 token student, “the class Indian”. It didn’t occur to me that Hassan Goolam was different, that he lived in a different area, that he didn’t party with us. At the end of the year, when our exam results came out, I remember suggesting that we all go to the Golden Spur in Dean Street to celebrate with waffles and ice cream. I distinctly remember the conversation…Hassan saying he couldn’t come and me asking why not….him replying that it was for whites only….he said not to worry and went home and we 5 Jews went for waffles…I was 18 yrs old and it was my first introduction to Apartheid…AND I DID NOTHING TO CHANGE IT….

    I graduated in 1982 and moved to Canada in 1987…Since we have been in Canada, there is not a day that goes by when I haven’t felt guilty about not saying anything, not doing anything…..and I mention it often to my husband and he always tries to placate me by saying “what could you have done?”

    Today, when I watched your story, I felt like you had crawled inside of me and told my story….I felt exposed…. and I cried my heart out. I have carried this feeling of guilt with me for the past 33 years and I have never been able to really tell anyone who understood….today I felt there was someone who did…but why I write this now, and why I wanted to liase with you, is that I didn’t get the sense that you felt less guilty or that you were able to truly forgive yourself and I wondered if in the past few years that had changed….and if there was some advice that you could give a younger landsman in the same situation on the other side of the world in the Great White North.

    Best wishes
    Michele Moss

  19. Posted October 25, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink


    Dear Prof. Bloch
    Thank you for expressing the feelings of most South Africans who left without closure of the awful regime we were brought up with.You are certainly not alone in feeling the way you do. I trained as a nurse at the Johannesburg General Hospital and then a midwife at Addington Hospital. I very ashamedly bear certificates that state I am capable of nursing “white persons”. I have lived in Australia for 38 years and thank my Australian husband everyday for convincing me that this was a better alternative for raising our three children. As the years pass I realise that we were not responsible for how we were raised, we really didn’t have much choice. I grew up over night when I left the country and found my own way in the world. Watching the film brought it all back to me and I cried with you. Thank you for being brave enough to admit what we have all felt for so many years. Sincerely, June Ackerman

  20. Posted October 25, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Permalink


    Dear Dr Bloch
    I watched your journey back to South Africa on the ABC Compass program.
    I was blessed by your willingness to seek forgiveness for the wrongs of the Apartheid system and the privileges you enjoyed under the system of the day. I guess it must have being a painful and challenging journey for you.
    I grew up in Durban and spent most of my life under the Apartheid system. Every facet of life was controlled by laws which segregated my very being. I am now in Australia for the last 10 years.

  21. Posted October 15, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink


    Wrong Side Of The Bus is an extraordinary work; we were riveted and moved (many tears). We commend you but emphasize that the commendation vastly understates how we felt. We also note that your offspring is pretty extraordinary.

  22. Marie Andre Mitchell
    Posted September 10, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I have not seen the film but was put in touch with your website by a Rabbi in Israel who knows I am a South African who lived through the many changes that have happened to our “beloved country” The Truth and Reconciliation Commission helped us t realize the enormity of Apartheid as the press did not cover all the horrific stories. One person I admired for all he did was Dr Franz Auerbach who was a German-Jewish refugee. He worked in education. He has written a book No Single Loyalty which testifies to his deep dedication to fairness and justice and to challenging bigotry while at the same time telling his family’s own story in the turbulent times. It is important that people tell their stories. I appreciated the honesty that is portrayed in the film

  23. Posted July 6, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Permalink


    As a 4th generation Jewish Australian with many S. African friends, found your experiences fascinating, revealing, heartfelt & totally honest. The interplay with your son was fantastic!! We Jews have a special reason for appreciating minorities & deprived societies & it is a tragedy that ” the world” has learnt nothing from history. Your openness has contributed to the necessary ongoing education. Well done!!

  24. rod
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Permalink


    Dear Sidney

    The program about your South African journey of healing deeply moved me. I am an ex-safeffricen (and an Afrikaner to boot!), and I can identify with your quest for absolution. I have one feeble excuse: When I was 12 years old at the time of the 1966 election, I found out what the then Progressive Party stood for and summarily decided that that was my political home! I penned a note to the late Mrs Helen Suzman, who was the only PP MP at that stage.
    This is a most unusual pedigree for an Afrikaner boy from the Free State platteland (rural area), but it shows the value of a liberal-humanist education. My parents were great humanitarians and that helped me to perceive from an early age that apartheid was just patently wrong. You had to be Blind Freddy not to have realised it.

  25. Posted July 4, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Permalink


    Dear Sid
    Congratulations on an impressive and interesting piece of work. If this helps anyone understand the South African experience and its aftermath better, or helps anyone among those who chose to leave and who may be conflicted, then good for you. And if ultimately you found it helpful yourself, then good for you too.
    I thought Aaron was a star. Firstly, the pleasure you must have from a kid who is respectful, affectionate, articulate and confident must be very fulfilling. Beside that, his role in the enterprise seemed absolutely key – what a different film it would have been without him!

  26. VONDA
    Posted July 3, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Today my family and I had the priviledge of not only watching ‘Wrong Side of the Bus’, but also meeting Sidney and Aaron. I was intrigued by the story they had to tell with such honesty and frankness to their audience and also the journey they shared together and as individuals.
    Thank you Sidney for having the courage and the conscience to want to right past wrongs. So many of us are guilty of being bystanders at one time or another without ever recognising that it is never too late to take steps righting our wrongs.
    Aaron, your father was very fortunate to have such an intuitive young man beside him while he revisted his past and sought to discover how to make peace with what tormented him. Although you were there for your fathers journey, your own perspective of the world was widened and your actions would change because of the journey you undertook together.
    I hope you both continue to share your story and inspire others to take a good look at their own lives and how they live it. It often only takes one other to point you in the right direction, then thoughts are challenged and behaviours are changed. My daughter and her peers have education and opportunities like no other generation before them. They then have the chance to pass what they learn onto their family, friends and collegues in the hope that the message that they receive will go a long way in bridging the gap between the many races that make up this wonderful rainbow colored world of ours.
    Your contribution to my daughter’s and my family’s learning, has been greatly appreciated.

  27. Posted July 1, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Permalink


    Dear Professor Bloch

    I was intrigued by the account on the ABC’s Compass program of your visit to South Africa to confront your past in Apartheid South Africa. My intrigue arose on two counts: I, like you, am an expatriate South African now well settled in Australia, and I also look back on my own past in Apartheid South Africa with a degree of regret.

    I admire you for your courage (and you had a wonderful ally in your son) in returning to South Africa to face and, I strongly suspect, to finally exorcise your demons. I have never returned physically to South Africa, having left there as a 19-year-old in 1960, but I did go back there in spirit by writing my autobiography (Pretzel Legs) through which I have managed to exorcise some of my own demons.

    With kind regards
    Laurie Meintjes

  28. rod
    Posted July 1, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sid,
    A very important, moving and impressive film. Really interesting and a “real-life” insight into what most people ask themselves. “What would I do in such a situation”. I learnt a lot. Particularly of interest was the “use” of Aaron v’s you. Before the event/decision you don’t know which decision you will be happiest with years after the event. Reminds me of a surgical textbook written by SR called “Surgical Emergencies for the man on the spot”. He called it this because he was operating late at night and didn’t know what to do. He rang his boss and after discussion his boss told him to decide himself as he was the man on the spot.
    Our decisions may not turn out to be right , but it is the nature of the Universe we can only decide what we think is best at the time.
    Consequently, I don’t think you should have regrets; you made the decisions to the best of your ability under the prevailing circumstances. But, it really is an amazing brilliant film. Everybody should watch it.

  29. rod
    Posted July 1, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    WENDY SINCLAIR, Social Anthropologist

    Dear Professor Bloch,
    I was touched by the programme on Compass, documenting your return visit to Cape Town. The reaction of your medical colleagues to your sense of guilt and remorse revealed so much about contemporary South Africa.
    The generosity of spirit evident in those who suffered at the hands of white South Africans has always been a source of amazement to me. It cannot only be the Christian teaching on forgiveness and non-judgement of others that is in play. How does this become assimilated into an inner transformation? After all, we Jews still live in the shadow of the Holocaust, which seems as ever-present today as it was over 60 years ago. Thank you for being willing to share so much of yourself.

  30. Posted June 30, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I am writing this to you quite overwhelmed. It’s truly fantastic. This was so close to the bone, so many levels and dimensions, so many emotions.
    I felt exactly as you did regarding apartheid, I never was consumed by guilt. The bystander effect, the complicity, the sin of omission is a daily affair and consumes me but – like your SA experience- I don’t do a thing about it. I have no excuse, only the weak psychological explanation that I am like the 2000 year old man in the Mel Brooks record. When asked what was his main source of transportation 2000 years ago, he answered: “Fear, mainly fear”. That’s me, combined with Robert Frost’s famous definition of a liberal: someone who can’t even take his own side in an argument.

  31. Posted June 30, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    I was deeply moved by your emotion, your openness and honesty. I feel we could all do with a bit more honesty.

    I see at least two levels in the film. On the personal level: You are more plagued by the past than most people I know. However, your odyssey raises issues for all of us who have a conscience. Profoundly so.

    Then there are the wider issues: being Jewish, being a moral bystander, being a racist, staying or leaving, and so on. In fact, you paint a fairly comprehensive picture of life for us whites in apartheid South Africa, and its implications.

    The dialogue between you and Aaron works well. By the end, he seems to have undergone more of a transformation than you. And the whole thing hangs together well. It’s a work of art.
    My own thoughts on forgiveness: You can and should forgive yourself everything. Everything.

  32. rod
    Posted June 6, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink


    Just watched your film on the internet. A striking trip indeed, beautifully rendered. I can well sympathize with the bystander syndrome.

    I feel, alas, too close to this kind of moral standing. What was particularly striking was the scene with the Afrikaaner: it gave a deep twist to the whole thing about the bystander position. It showed that you were a bystander not only in the moral sense of not acting, but in the sense that you did not belong to the country in the first place (being Jewish), leaving the country once you got the opportunity. The blacks and the Afrikaaners had nowhere to go. They had to fight it out, and they had to undergo the true reconciliation.

    Forgiving you is easy for the black guy. You were never part of the system and by leaving, you stopped being an accomplice.

    Aaron was very impressive, in the process he underwent in his attitude towards you and the whole idea of the trip.

  33. rod
    Posted June 6, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Permalink


    Dear Sid,
    Marilyn and i saw your film last night and were transfixed to the screen – it is wonderful and so beautifully done and packed with your sensitive spirit. it spoke to me because as you may know, i grew up in an all black neighborhood in segregated Washington DC, living over my father’s grocery store and the nearest white family was another Jewish grocer four blocks away and not once ever thought of the comparison between what was done to the blacks and what was done to the Jews – complicated by all my friends in early life being black and my family’s refusal to speak of the holocaust in any way to us – thanks so much …

  34. Rodney
    Posted June 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Like Willo, to whom I am married, I watched Wrong Side of the Bus with deep interest and admiration. The question of “failure” is a thorny one for all of us. We play it out in the way that Sidney is exploring but also internally in the ways we “fail” ourselves by not being able to confront to abuse and suffering we are subjected to which often starts at a very young age. The two are related. I believe we can only confront this issue effectively if we know that as Willo says, love and anger can coexist and we can choose love to guide our anger. That must be so both internally and externally for guilt is covert anger against oneself and can do great harm. To love oneself well is the basis on which to love and support others. Thank you Sidney.

  35. Willo
    Posted June 3, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I viewed this documentary with delight. It is becoming rare to have the opportunity to share other peoples responses to the deeper issues of being human. It took courage to make this offering.
    I spent time mulling over the prime question of forgiveness. I believe perhaps the quest for compassion may prove more fruitful as it allows more room for unforgiving parts of ourselves to move.
    It is very hard being human and many people lose their way, causing damage to themselves and therefore others. A deep understanding of this can bring what internal liberation is possible without having to deny some acts are ‘unforgivable’. Love and anger can co-exsist.

  36. rod
    Posted June 3, 2010 at 9:16 am | Permalink


    I often watch Compass for I appreciate many of the topics it raises, and information in its presentations.

    As someone historically recognised for my participation in human rights issues of my people in NZ, the Maori, I was intrigued by a conversation between the father and son profiled in this program.

    It struck me immediately the truth of this father is he never failed. For no matter how much or little he achieved in his resistance to the apartheid regime and nightmare, he acted on his conscience, something many others fail to do.

    He did something that clearly expressed his diseent when he refused to comply with authorative direction to move to the other side of the bus. He retains my admiration of his courage, as someone who has had the privilege to know such courage.

  37. Pat Zuckerman
    Posted May 27, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Wow – Just had the extreme pleasure plus excruciating pain – watching Sidney Bloch dealing with his demons – which are all of ours too- thank you for making this film possible

  38. Posted May 25, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Permalink


    Congratulations on your television program – it came over very well and I hope that you and your son have at least gained some personal satisfaction over and above that you have afforded others in a similar position.

  39. Posted May 25, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Permalink


    The documentary was excellent! …To me one of the best parts … were the dynamics between Sid and Aaron – but I think Aaron stole the show. I also could not believe the warmth, forgiveness and wisdom of the black Africans after all that they had been through, this was very inspiring, considering all the bitterness and pettiness that we hang onto over such trivial things.

  40. rod
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Permalink


    Dear Professor Bloch,

    I watched with great interest the documentary on ABC last night. My family embarked on the chicken run in 1986, arriving in Melbourne a week before my 15th birthday. I’ve been back to South Africa three times in the 24 years since we left, but one of those visits turned into a year long stay in Cape Town in 1994. Voting in that incredible election and watching the new flag being raised are two of the most
    life defining moments I have had.

    As a fellow jew, I also wrestle with many of the issues that concerned you. There are many paths for dealing with our semitic consternation, but few for dealing with the ‘white guilt’ many ex-South Africans face.

    I appreciate the deeply personal insight into your life and thoughts.

  41. Posted May 25, 2010 at 9:03 am | Permalink


    Hello Prof Bloch.
    I saw the Compass show regarding the Wrong Side of the Bus, and I was moved to tears. Many thanks for sharing with us this journey with your son to Cape. I am considering using the program for a bible study…
    You are a blessed man. Shalom.

  42. Posted May 24, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    In response to Rod Freedman…

    Many thanks for your reply Rod.

    I trust you appreciate the extreme irony of your remark that “There are entirely different histories and circumstances between the two regions” (South Africa and Palestine/Israel) – made on the very same day that the Guardian in the UK reported on archival material documenting more fully than ever before the deep collaboration between Apartheid South Africa and the State of Israel during the 1970s and 80s.

    More seriously, I disagree with you. A adequeate, fair and honest discussion about the life of a very self-consciously Jewish Australian and his role (or lack thereof) in dismantling Apartheid in South Africa cannot simply leave Israel out of the story. To do so is to take a position: that there are no implications of one for the other – and that there was no connection between Apartheid South Africa and Israel. The reality is otherwise.

    By leaving any discussion of Israel/Palestine out of this documentary, you effectively sanitised Israeli Apartheid. This was done using Australian public funds. It is not, in my opinion, acceptable.

    At the very least it IS appropriate that critical comments from the public, such as this, are reflected in the feedback here – along with the many plaudits you are receiving from fans.

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