(11 JUNE 2015)
We are a group of Israeli citizens, active against our government’s policies of racism, occupation and apartheid.
We would like to denounce an attempted sanctions-busting junket organized by South African supporters of Israeli apartheid. This deplorable policy resembles 1980s junkets to Apartheid South Africa organised by US and UK based groups which supported the racist Pretoria regime.
As Israeli citizens living here and witnessing the daily reality of Israeli apartheid, we do not welcome propaganda junkets such as the one organized by the South Africa Israel Forum together with the SA Zionist Federation and SA Friends of Israel.
This initiative merely serves to cover-up Israeli crimes and undermine the growing BDS campaign, which a growing number of human rights-minded South Africans, and even a growing number of conscientious Israeli citizens, support.
A reading of the list of venues and individuals the group is supposed to visit makes it perfectly clear that participants will be taken to institutions which are directly complicit in the Israeli government crimes. For example:
1. Artist village in Aniam
The Aniam Artist village was established by the Jewish Agency in the illegally Israeli occupied Palestinian territory of the Golan Heights. The Jewish Agency has played an active role in the displacement of the indigenous Palestinian population.
2. Gabriel Naddaf
Gabriel Naddaf is an Israeli priest who has been vocal in his support for the State of Israel. He has also proactively campaigned for Israeli Arab Christians to join the IDF which is an instrumental part of Israel’s occupation. Naddaf has been vehemently criticized by Israeli Arabs and Palestinians and has been excommunicated by the Orthodox Church Council. Naddaf has also campaigned for the recognition of a separate identity for Arab Christians in opposition to Arab Christian organisations such as Sabeel, Kairos and others. Naddaf is basically a tool of the Israeli Apartheid regime much as how Apartheid South Africa had used certain Bantustan leaders during the 1980s.
3. IDC Herzliya
IDC Herzliya has been operating a special propaganda center during Israel’s massacre in Gaza in the summer of 2014 (http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israel-student-union-sets- war-room-sell-gaza-massacre-facebook ) to counter international criticism of Israeli war crimes.
4 . Israel’s Gay and Lesbian Centre
Israel’s Gay and Lesbian Centre has been complicit in “pinkwashing” the Israeli occupation. By only concentrating on Israel’s attitude towards Israeli LGBTQ issues and completely ignoring the tangible issues of occupation and human rights abuses, it has used the LGBTQ cause to condone its abuse of Palestinian rights. Renowned activists including LGBTQ identified and Jewish activists such as Sarah Schulman , Ashley Bohrer and Jasbir Puar have criticised the method of “pink washing” as a disservice to both LGBTQ struggle for justice and the Palestinian struggle for justice. There are several other Palestinian LGBTQ groups such as AlQaws, Palestinian Queers for BDS have previously said: “You cannot have queer liberation while apartheid, patriarchy, capitalism and other oppressions exist. It’s important to target the connections of these oppressive forces. Furthermore, pinkwashing is a strategy used by the Brand Israel campaign to garner the support of queers in other parts of the world. It is simply an attempt to make the Zionist project more appealing to queer people. This is another iteration of a familiar and toxic colonial fantasy — that the colonizer can provide something important and necessary that the colonized cannot possibly provide for themselves. Pinkwashing strips away our voices, history and agency, telling the world that Israel knows what is best for us. By targeting pinkwashing we are reclaiming our agency, history, voices and bodies, telling the world what we want and how to support us.”
5. Save a Child’s Heart
Saving any Child’s Heart is a worthy deed. However, the head of the racist SA Zionist Federation, Avrom Krengel, in 2009 referred to the new direction of the SAZF’s Israeli propaganda work. Krengel specifically identifies “Save A Child’s Heart” as one Israeli propaganda device which is actually a highly politicized project of the SAZF’s Israel Advocacy team.
Bashar Masri, the person responsible for the construction of Rawabi city in the Occupied Territories has been condemned by Palestinian civil society for his participation in Israeli conferences (such as the Israeli High Tech Industry Association which has links to Israel’s industrial military complex) and his relationship with Israel’s government. Masri is also an active supporter and participant in the Israeli-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, an Israeli-established and controlled body based in Tel Aviv designed to advance the economic exploitation of Palestinians and Palestinian resources under occupation. Masri has collaborated with many institutions and person belonging to the Israeli establishment that have and continue to support Israel’s occupation and aggression against the Palestinians. He has lost favour with organised Palestinian civil society.
7. Michael Levine Centre
The Lone Soldier Centre in memory of Michael Levine is an institution which provides support to “lone soldiers” of the IDF before, during, and after their service in the IDF. The IDF is guilty of various well documented war crimes and crimes against humanity including the killing of more than 2000 Palestinians (500 children) last year in Gaza.
8. Meeting with IDF soldiers
IDF soldiers are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses against Palestinians. Their actions contribute to the criminal nature of this army as the army of occupation and apartheid. IDF soldiers are the footmen who ensure that Israel’s apartheid policies and occupation is maintained. IDF soldiers are also responsible for harassing, assaulting and victimising Palestinian men, women and children. They play a central role in maintaining the Israeli settlement infrastructure in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It should go without saying that a meeting with IDF soldiers legitimizes the criminal nature of this army as the army of occupation and apartheid.
9 . Hebrew University
The Hebrew University in Jerusalem has been complicit in the Gaza massacre (http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-universities-lend-support-gaza-massacre . The university has also set police on students protesting against military service
: http://electronicintifada.net/content/hebrew-university-sets-police-students-protesting-army- recruitment/13379. In addition, the university’s facilities have been illegally built on occupied territory in occupied East Jerusalem http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/hundreds- academics–call-boycott-hebrew–university–conference–2014 ). The latter link serves as proof that conscientious people all over the world are keeping note of the university’s violations of human rights and refusing to take part in its activities(.
10 . Pastor Khoury from 1st Baptist Church of Bethlehem.
Pastor Khoury is a member of Holy Land Missions which condones Israel’s acts of occupation. Holy Land Missions is also not a signatory to the revolutionary Kairos document which is the single most important Christian view and position on the Israeli occupation. Kairos Palestine was inspired by the revolutionary South African Kairos document. We would like to stress that even during Apartheid in South Africa there were some progressive churches like St. Georges Cathedral and some reactionary churches like the Dutch Reformed Church. Likewise in Palestine- Israel, the vast majority of progressive Palestinian churches and church organisations will be ignored by the SA-Israel Forum, SA Zionist Federation and SA Friends of Israel because of these churches support for BDS. The SA-Israel Forum, SA Zionist Federation and SA Friends of Israel will only expose delegates to reactionaries.
11 . Promised Land Tours
Promised Land Tours is a travel entity that organised tours to Israel as part of a whitewashing campaign to present Israel as a democratic society (although Israel is a democratic-non society with various well documented forms of racism and Apartheid, see South African HSRC 2009 report detailing Israel’s Apartheid practices). In none of its tours does it provide visitors with a glimpse of the harsh realities that Palestinians suffer on a daily basis due to Israel’s continued occupation and unequal treatment of people within Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
We call on South African citizens not to lend support and legitimacy to Israeli apartheid and its institutions. Let us work together for the end of apartheid in Israel/Palestine, just like in South Africa more than 20 years ago.
If you wish to come to our land please, come with the support and endorsement of the BDS movement and as a guest of theirs, not assanctions busting groups like the SA Zionist Federation, SA Israel Forum, SA Friends of Israel.
Ofer Nieman and Tali Shapiro on behalf of
Israeli citizens for BDS
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (Aka Boycott from Within)