OPINION

SA Jews welcome ANC decision to downgrade embassy in Israel - SAJFP

Organisation says it is no longer justified to persist with fruitless policy of meaningless engagement

South African Jews welcome ANC decision to downgrade Israel Embassy

(21 December 2017) 

We, South African Jews, welcome the decision by the ANC to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African embassy in Israel. The resolution, adopted yesterday by the ANC, reads: "In order to give our practical expression of support to the oppressed people of Palestine; the ANC has unanimously resolved to direct the SA government to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office.”

This move by the ANC actively applies pressure on Israel's government to end its violations of international law. As members of the Jewish community we believe that this is one of the most practical things that South Africa can do to contribute towards a just peace in Israel-Palestine. 

We are part of a growing network of Jews across the globe who oppose the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands and seek justice for all people. Earlier this year a group of Jewish Israelis wrote a letter to the ANC supporting the call for a downgrade of relations and support of the BDS boycott of Israel. In their letter to the ANC, our Israeli friends explained that:

"After many years of trying to change our society from within, we have come to the conclusion that an international campaign, such as the boycott against apartheid South Africa, is necessary to change the situation here. We believe that the time has come for further measures. Governments, including that of South Africa, should be downgrading diplomatic relations and their embassies in Israel, to send a clear message to Israel that its violations of international law are unacceptable. Furthermore, we call on the ANC to strengthen its support for the BDS movement and Palestinian struggle.” (http://boycottisrael.info/node/302)

Given the gross violations by Israel against the Palestinians people, it is clearly not justified to persist with a fruitless policy of meaningless engagement. A far tougher approach is needed. This is where the Palestinians themselves have led the way in asking the world to apply the same policy of Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel - a policy that we, as South Africans, adopted to hasten the end of Apartheid. Significantly, Jewish activists in many countries (and in Israel itself) have committed themselves to this non-violent BDS movement.

We South Africans, in our diversity, are united in our solidarity with the Palestinians, our opposition to Israeli Apartheid and our quest for justice.

*South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP) is an organisation of South African Jews wishing to see a just resolution to the conflict in Historic Palestine. We strongly believe in the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, “Repairing the World” which embodies social action and the pursuit of social justice. Historically Jews have been involved struggles to achieve social justice and we are proud to continue this tradition. Furthermore, as Jews, we feel obliged to speak out against injustice purportedly carried out in our name.

Statement issued by Allan Horwitz, South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP), 21 December 2017