PRESS STATEMENT: SA Minister of Sports to boycott Israel tennis match

25 January 2018

The human rights and Palestine solidarity organization, BDS South Africa, welcomes the decision by South Africa’s Minister of Sports and Recreation, Honourable Thulas Nxesi, to boycott the upcoming Davis Cup Israel tennis match.

The decision comes following an appeal by South African civil society organizations who appealed to the Minister, in line with the BDS boycott of Israel, to not attend the match given that an Israeli team would be present.

Below is a copy of the letter sent by Minister Thulas Nxesi to BDS South Africa, SA Jews for a Free Palestine, PSA and NC4P:

Dear BDS South Africa, SA Jews for a Free Palestine, PSA and NC4P,

Dear fellow South Africans,

Thank you for your letter and for the concerns that you have raised on behalf of the various organizations that you belong to.

International solidarity and the boycott against Apartheid South Africa played a big role in our liberation. Indeed, one of the most well-known slogans came out of that context – ‘no normal sport with an abnormal regime!’

Our own Human Sciences Research Council, in 2009, produced a report documenting how Israel is practicing Apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 

I myself have experienced Israeli discrimination and occupation when I was denied entry to Palestine in 2012. In response to this and other practices by the Israeli regime against the Palestinians, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many other notable South Africans, have called on the world to support the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. 

This call for BDS is increasingly supported by progressive Jewish Israelis who remind us of our own icon, Cde. Joe Slovo, who, while he was Jewish, dissociated himself from the practices of the Israeli regime.

I would actually have loved to attend the Davis Cup but given the concerns that activists and fellow South Africans are raising regarding the presence of an Israeli team I believe that it would not be proper for me to attend. 

Finally, in the year that we are celebrating Nelson Mandela, let me end by quoting Tata Madiba, who said that “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinian people”.

With best wishes,

Thulas Nxesi, Minister of Sport and Recreation