12 January 2017

The Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation BDS South Africa condemns the visit by opposition leader Mmusi Maimane of the Democratic Alliance (DA) to Israel.

In 2009, in a 300-page report commissioned by the SA Government, the SA Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) found that Israel is practicing forms of apartheid. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other human rights groups have subsequently published similar reports, including investigations revealing Israel’s discriminatory policies regarding natural resources and in particular water.

It is in this context that BDS SA and our supporters condemn the cosy-ing up of the DA with the collaborators of our former oppressors. Israel backed and supported Apartheid South Africa with weapons including nuclear weaponry that was used against our people. It speaks volumes that the DA is trying to take us back to Apartheid days by forging relations with countries like Israel and other regimes that backed Apartheid. South African foreign policy, which is to curtail relations with Israel, was articulated by our Deputy Minister of International Realtions in 2012 and by our Minister of International Relations in 2013.

The DA, and Maimane, claim to want to listen to what Israelis and Palestinian are asking for. Yet they are ignoring what Palestinians and progressivce Israels are saying. Palestinians in their overwhelming majority have called for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and for limiting engagement with the Israeli regime. This call for BDS is also supported by a growing number of Jewish Israelis. In our recent engagements with Parliamentarians in December 2016, DA members were at the forefront of opposing any forms of boycott against Israel. This is not the only occassion that DA leaders are taking overtly pro-Israeli positions (click here for previous article).

The DA, and Maimane, claim that the trip is a private initiative but he is meeting with Israeli officials including its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with a picture of him standing next to Netanyahu in front of both the South African flag and the Israeli one.

The DA claims that Maimane is visiting religious sites but is utterly silent on the oppression of the indigenous Palestinian Christians of Bethlehem, Jerusalem, the Galilee and others areas. The DA is utterly silent on Israel’s illegal settlements and 8m high Apartheid Wall that encircles the Holy Town of Bethlehem.

The DA claim to be meeting with Palestinian human rights activists but cannot mention a single reputable organization. Its mention of Palestinians seems like an after-thought. We remind the DA that even during Apartheid people came on Apartheid supported trips and met so called no-name activists who were merely charlatans. People visited Apartheid, spoke with Buthelezi and Mangope and then claimed to have spoken to authoritative figures that represented the masses of our people in South Africa.

The DA claim to support a peaceful solution but are utterly silent on Israel’s Apartheid policies, Israel’s Apartheid Wall, the political prisoners situation including the over 400 child prisoners, the continued construction of the illegal settlements and the expansion of the settlement industry.

The DA claim to support peace but don’t condemn Israel’s illegal settlements or call out Israel’s racism against Africans. Maimane and the DA are behaving like hypocrites who claimed to be in in support of resolving Apartheid, like Nixon and Thatcher, during the 1980s, but who were utterly silent in the face of the killing and oppression of our people. Its no use claiming to support peace but remaining silent in the face of the abuse and not acting or speaking up against it.

We welcome the ANC statement on this issue (click here) and in particular President Zuma and the ANC’s re-affirmation of firmly discouraging propaganda trips to Israel and the ANC and Government’s backing of the recent UN Security Council Resolution 2334 which stated that the: “[UN Security Council] reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law…”

During Apartheid BJ Vorster had initiated a foreign relations policy of “dialogue and détente” trying to break the increasing isolation that South Africa was under. This involved Apartheid South Africa offering free trip as well as agricultural, water and other support to African countries in an attempt to bribe and silence criticism of Apartheid South Africa. Israel has also recently embarked on a similar initiative to win over African leaders and countries in the face of its increasing isolation. Maimane in Israel is the regime’s attempt to break the boycott, with a willing, it would seem, collaborator – the DA.

ISSUED BY KWARA KEKANA ON BEHALF OF BDS SOUTH AFRICA

BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL IN SOUTH AFRICA (BDS SOUTH AFRICA)
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