[August 03, 2012]

Dear Premier Zweli Mkhize:
Greetings from the Holy Land, cradle of three monotheistic religions, significant primarily for its spirituality.
We, Christians from Kairos Palestine (based in the holy city of Bethlehem) have been informed about a trip to Israel planned by the SA-Israel Forum for a delegation of mayors and municipal members from KwaZulu-Natal to “learn” about Israeli agriculture and know-how. With this letter, please allow us to express our feelings of deep worry concerning this trip and our request for you to cancel it.

We are troubled by the program of this intended visit. Your host, the SA-Israel Forum is well known to be part of the Israeli lobby, which disgracefully ignores facts and reality on the ground in Palestine and Israel and promotes an Israeli narrative that justifies the on-going occupation and its gross human rights violations.

Therefore, it is unfortunately predictable that this Israeli PR trip does not deal with the political and social reality in the Holy Land – a daily reality that includes all cruel dimensions of oppression and dispossession. At a time when South Africa is calling for clear labels on products coming from the illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, a group of South African mayors and municipal members visiting Israel sends the wrong messages: it gives off an obliviousness to the facts and the suffering experienced here. Moreover, even though the trip is scheduled to a visit of Christian sites, these are sanitized tourist areas that Israeli approved tour operators will take you to. You will not not meet indigenous Christian Palestinians to hear their cry from within the suffering of their country. And the call from us indigenous Palestinians is: don’t legitimize Apartheid Israel, don’t be part of its PR.

What we still need is the momentum and commitment of people of faith and courage, people who are willing to stand with Palestinians in their struggle for dignity and freedom and their search for a just peace.

Therefore, we, your brothers and sisters in faith and humanity, appeal to you, honourable Premier, to urgently intervene in this matter and cancel this trip to Israel.

Kairos Palestine
c/o Dar Annadwa, P.O.Box 162, Bethlehem, Palestine • Phone +972-2-277 0047  • Fax +972-2-277 0048
Email: info@kairospalestine.ps  www.kairospalestine.ps