OPINION

Blacklisting of BDS supporters infringes on freedom – ANC WCape

Party says this decision by Israel only increases their support of the Palestinian struggle

Israel's BDS attack is an attack on South Africans and the ANC 

11 January 2018

The ANC in the Western Cape cautions the Israeli government that it's recent blacklist of those who support the BDS movement has only encouraged us to increase our support for the Palestinian struggle and Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement. According to a list released by the Israeli government, those cited will not be allowed entry to Israel-Palestine over their support for BDS. The list singles out BDS South Africa, an organization of South African citizens and many of whom are ANC members.

In the ANC-led South Africa many of our Ministers and other senior government officials including Members of Parliament, Premiers, Mayors and others are vocal, public supporters of Palestine and many have addressed BDS events.  

Our resolutions and policies mandate our deployees in government to carry out Palestine solidarity within their government portfolios. In 2014 the ANC resolved to support the "call for a cultural, academic and education boycott of Israel.” For two years in a row our January 8th events held a reminder to all ANC officials to boycott travel to Israel. At our most recent elective congress we resolved for the immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA Embassy in Israel to a liaison office.

According to Israeli media, Mayors and Government officials who support boycotts of Israel will, under this recent blacklisting process, also be prevented from entering Israel-Palestine. This kind of thuggery and attempt to infringe on our freedom to stand against the government of Israel's violation of international law is an affirmation that they are a rogue regime. 

Last year Israel barred World Council of Churches leader, Isabel Phiri, a citizen of Malawi living in Switzerland, due to the support of the WCC for the Palestinian struggle against Israeli Apartheid.

One of the organizations included on Israel's BDS Blacklist is the progressive Jewish organization, Jewish Voices For Peace (JVP). Recently the Israeli lobby, including the SAJBD, falsely claimed that the ANC downgrading the SA embassy in Tel Aviv will negatively affect travel to Israel. The irony is that the Israeli regime itself, which the SAJBD defends, is preventing people (including Jews) from travel to Israel (and Palestine). Knowing the SAJBD we do not expect them to protest against this undemocratic move by Israel - the SAJBD and Israeli lobby do not have Jewish interests at heart, they are simply a foreign government's lobby group operating in South Africa under the disguise of a religious group. 

Furthermore the hypocrisy of the Israeli government and its lobby groups who talk of "mediating and talking" when they ban and blacklist peaceful human rights organisations has been exposed.

We will continue with our practical solidarity to assist in pressuring Israel to end its human rights abuses, apartheid policies and violations of international law. Until then the struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle just as how our struggle was once their struggle! Last year many of our leaders including our newly elected president, Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, with several cabinet Ministers participated in a hunger strike in solidarity with Palestinian Political Prisoners. In addition, last year, president Ramaphosa also met the 16 year old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, who is now currently being detained by Israeli authorities and faces a 10 year prison sentence (see attached photo).

The ANC membership and our leadership does not disown the South African solidarity organization BDS, we defend it as its membership and overlap.

In addition to the swift implementation of the immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA Embassy in Israel, we also undertake to engage with South Africa's Minister of Home Affairs, Comrade Ayanda Dlodlo, to request that she reevaluates our visa policy with Israel in a way which will adequately respond to this Israeli insult, as it is common cause that visa policies are reciprocal. In this regard, we believe that BDS should also meet with Minister Ayanda Dlodlo to provide input on the appropriate response, as she too is an active supporter of the Palestinian people and BDS movement.

Indeed we must increase our solidarity with Palestine, as the Israeli government has again shown its bullish and thuggish nature. We have our dignity, our values and sovereignty to protect!

Issued by Faiez Jacobs, Provincial Secretary, ANC Western Cape, 11 January 2018