11 September 2017
The human rights and Palestine solidarity organization, BDS South Africa, welcomes the calling-off of the Africa-Israel Summit which was meant to take place in Togo next month. The decision comes following several boycott threats. (Click here)
This is welcome as good news by human rights organisations and the global BDS movement which has called for the isolation of Israel over its human rights abuses and violations of international law. Palestinian Ambassador to South Africa, Hashem Dajani, has also welcomed the decision adding that: “The State of Palestine welcomes the position adopted by South Africa and other African states to shun this propaganda exercise by Israel.”
Last month it was reported that several countries, including South Africa, were planning to boycott the summit. South African Ambassador Sean Benfeldt explained that South Africa will not take part because the summit was viewed as a step by Israel to normalize relations between Africa and an “occupation state.” (Click here)
In addition, the head of International Relations for South Africa’s governing ANC party, Minister Edna Molewa, is quoted as saying on the issue: “We cannot turn a blind eye on Israeli efforts to galvanise support from Africa and elsewhere, with a view to undermine the Palestinian cause.”
BDS South Africa joins other groups in welcoming this decision and commends South Africa and other African states who were to boycott the summit. However, our governments must continue to resist all Israeli attempts to influence, corrupt or weaken our solidarity with the Palestinians – including attempts, in contradiction to our policies, by some within our own Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). The Palestinians were a people that supported us during the darkest days of Apartheid, while Israel, we painfully remember, was supplying arms to the Apartheid government.
Earlier this year, in a letter addressed to African governments and their respective embassies, Palestinians called for a boycott of the Africa-Israel summit. The letter read: “African countries which fought colonialism for decades and became free after a long suffering should never associate themselves with the only, longest and most brutal colonial project in the world today…in the name of justice and freedom and in the name of the African legacy of long struggle for freedom, we ask your country to disassociate from Israel’s Apartheid regime.” (Click here)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, addressing the 28th summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa, urged African nations not to entertain relations with Israel: “we urge you that this should not be done at the expense of the just cause of our Palestinian people, which still needs your help to get rid of the abhorrent Israeli occupation…[Israel is] creating a one-state reality with an apartheid system imposed on our people.” (Click here)
ISRAEL USING APARTHEID-ERA TACTICS
During Apartheid, Prime Minister BJ Vorster had initiated a foreign relations policy of “dialogue and détente” trying to break the increasing isolation that Apartheid South Africa was coming under. Apartheid South Africa offered free propaganda trips as well as agricultural, water and other so called superior technical support to African countries in an attempt to bribe and silence criticism of the Apartheid regime. Israel has recently also embarked on a similar apartheid-era tactic to try and win over African leaders and countries in the face of its increasing isolation.
Israeli racism against our African brothers and sisters is shared and even encouraged by leading Israeli politicians including the Israeli Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said that Africans in Israel “threaten the social fabric of society.” Israel’s Minister of Interior, Eli Yishai, has said that African immigrants “think the country doesn’t belong to us, the white man.” And the Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev, has publicly compared Africans to “a cancer”. It was also revealed in 2013 that Israel was forcing African women to take birth control injections without their consent.
ISSUED BY KWARA KEKANA ON BEHALF OF BDS SOUTH AFRICA