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(Wissam Nassar / Maan Images)

In historic decision, South Africa’s ANC makes support for Israel boycott its official policy

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In Johannesburg, a graffiti artist helped promote this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week.

(Minhaj Jeenah / BDS South Africa)

For the first time ever, the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party in South Africa, today made the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel part of its official policy.

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of BDS South Africa said the decision “by the ANC’s National Conference, its highest decision making body, is by far the most authoritative endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.”

In a press release sent out by email, BDS South Africa explained:

In October 2012, the ANC’s International Solidarity Conference (ISC) declared its full support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.

Today, Lindiwe Zulu (member of the ANC’s International Relations Sub-Committee and special advisor to President Jacob Zuma) announced at the ANC’s 53rd National Conference plenary session, the ANC’s official endorsement, as captured in Resolution 39 (b), of the ANC’s October International Solidarity Conference (ISC) and all its resolutions, which includes a resolution on BDS. Giving muscle to resolution 39 (b), the ANC has committed to set up a steering committee to implement these ISC resolutions.

In addition, the ANC adopted resolution 35 (g) that specifically called for “all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel to engage with the Palestinian people to reach a just solution.”

Solidarity with Africans mistreated by Israel

BDS South Africa also applauded the ANC National Conference for passing a resolution that “abhors the recent Israeli state-sponsored xenophobic attacks and deportation of Africans” and to “request that this matter should be escalated to the African Union.”

Failed effort by South African Zionist groups

In the days leading up to the conference, Jewish communal and Zionst organizations had expressed worries about the impending vote. JTA reported on 18 December:

A marked anti-Israel swing by the South African government in recent months has caused consternation among South African Jews and Christian supporters of Israel.

This concern reached a climax with the possibility of the passage of a boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, resolution at the ANC’s 53rd National Conference in Mangaung, which ends Dec. 20.

The groups mounted intense efforts to forestall the resolution:

The [South African] Jewish Board of Deputies sent a letter to the ANC prior to the conference in which it calls for evenhandedness on the Israel-Palestinian issue, and asks that the letter be read out loud at the conference if the resolution is proposed.

An open letter to the ANC signed by a number of religious leaders was published on the front page of South Africa’s widest-circulating paper, the Sunday Times. It called on the ANC not to take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Titled “Choosing Peace”, the letter outlined the violence and battles throughout the ages for control of Israel.

The effort to call for “evenhandedness” and “not to take sides” indicates the weakness of anti-Palestinian groups who can no longer dream of a pro-Israel policy. Israel was one of the closest allies and biggest arms suppliers to South Africa’s former apartheid regime until the 1994 transition to democracy.

In what BDS South Africa termed a “final blow to the Israeli lobby” the National Conference passed a resolution that stated:

The ANC is unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel.

Growing solidarity in South Africa

Recently high-level South African church leaders, shocked at what they saw then they visited Palestine, also expressed support for the boycott.

In August, South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim advised his country’s citizens not to travel to Israel “because of the treatment and policies of Israel towards the Palestinian people.”

Prior to October’s decision at the ANC’s International Solidarity Conference – that set the stage for today’s vote at the National Conference – more than 150 former anti-Apartheid activists from around the world signed a statement calling on the ANC to support the boycott.

Today, those voices and those of solidarity groups in South Africa, proved to be more effective than the appeals of the once mighty anti-Palestinian groups.

Full BDS South Africa Press release

MEDIA RELEASE: S. Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, reaffirms boycott of Israel resolution

South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), at its 53rd National Conference, reaffirmed a resolution supporting the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.

In October 2012, the ANC’s International Solidarity Conference (ISC) declared its full support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign (ISC Declaration, page 2, point 10).

Today, Lindiwe Zulu (member of the ANC’s International Relations Sub-Committee and special advisor to President Jacob Zuma) announced at the ANC’s 53rd National Conference plenary session, the ANC’s official endorsement, as captured in Resolution 39 (b), of the ANC’s October International Solidarity Conference (ISC) and all its resolutions, which includes a resolution on BDS. Giving muscle to resolution 39 (b), the ANC has committed to set up a steering committee to implement these ISC resolutions.

In addition, the ANC adopted resolution 35 (g) that specifically called for “all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel to engage with the Palestinian people to reach a just solution.” In 2005 Palestinian civil society issued a call to the international community for a program and campaign of  boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to be applied against Israel as a way to pressure Israel to end its violations of international law, respect Palestinian human rights and engage in fair negotiations for a just peace.

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of BDS South Africa welcomed today’s decision: “This reaffirmation by the ANC’s National Conference, its highest decision making body, is by far the most authoritative endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign. The ANC has now taken its international conference resolutions, and officially made it the policy of the ANC. We look forward to working with the ANC and specifically the ISC steering committee to expedite its implementation.”

Another hard-hitting decision on Israel that was adopted by the ANC was resolution 35 (j): “The ANC abhors the recent Israeli state-sponsored xenophobic attacks and deportation of Africans and request that this matter should be escalated to the African Union”.  In June this year Israeli anti-African protests turned into full-fledged race riots. Israeli racism and xenophobia against Africans is shared and even encouraged by Israeli politicians including the Israeli Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said: “If we don’t stop their [African immigrants’] entry, the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000, and that threatens our existence…and threatens 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 parliamentarian, Miri Regev, has publicly compared Sudanese people to “a cancer”.

Finally, in a blow to the Israeli lobby, the ANC also adopted resolution 35 (c) stating: “The ANC is unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel.” In the build up to the ANC’s National Conference the Israeli lobby, including the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, demanded a “balanced” and “nonpartisan” rather than a decisive and solidarity role by the ANC in the Palestinian-Israeli issue.

ISSUED BY MBUYISENI NDLOZI FOR BDS SOUTH AFRICA

Comments

I think alot this is a 'game play' from ANC to win votes / support. Nevertheless it gives voice to the occupied state my Muslim brothers and sisters unfortunately have to bear on an ongoing basis...
Breaks my heart

I'm so pleased that the ANC could find the time to put so much effort behind such a meaningless boycott. To have an effective one, they would have to make it illegal for anyone in South Africa to own or use products which exist because of Israeli technology - mobile phones, computers, televisions etc . Somehow I don't think they will, because that would take courage and integrity. Like all others who call for boycotts - but only of those goods which don't really affect their daily lives - they are nothing more than posturing hypocrites. Such a shame they can't put the same effort into raising the standard of living of their own citizens. Now that would be a real achievement. By comparison, not visiting Israel or buying Israeli cosmetics pales into insignificance.

When will people realise that their BDS campaign has had, is having, and will continue to have no effect whatsoever on Israel's policies? The only thing that will change that is if Israel's neighbours decide to pursue peace instead of war and violence. They might also like to acquaint themselves with the reality of the situation instead of simply swallowing Palestinian lies and propaganda.

The Palestinians in Gaza are suffering but through the actions of the Hamas government which they elected, so they only have themselves to blame. How much of the billions of international aid money has been spent on armaments? What could have been achieved for its citizens if it had been spent on schools and housing and economic development? And why wasn't it?

Israel has said time and time again that it is seeking a solution which will allow two states to live in peace side by side and had demonstrated its commitment to land-for-peace by giving up Gaza and Southern Lebanon and the Sinai. In each case the response has been violence. When will the Palestinians demonstrate their commitment to peace, and how? And what action will the ANC take to encourage them?

It sounds like you've been swallowing something too, my friend --- the lies and fictions of the pro-Israel media.

"The Palestinians in Gaza are suffering but through the actions of the Hamas government which they elected, so they only have themselves to blame." This is taken almost verbatim from Murdoch-onian news organizations such as Fox News.

Please open your eyes to the reality that any set of facts can be twisted to suit an agenda. Your suggestions that money be spent on schools, housing, etc. would be fitting were it not for the fact that these are continually built and rebuilt, only to be destroyed once again by Israeli shelling.

And when will people cease trying to make this ridiculous point that Israel has been seeking peace negotiations? Do you not comprehend that the very concept of negotiation cannot exist without equal or at least comparable positions of power? Anything else is merely a statement of the position of the more powerful, along with the option of the less powerful to accept (the set of unacceptable terms) or else continue resisting.

Dear Khaled

Many thanks for your reponse. I shall attempt to answer each point you raised.

It doesn't matter whether or not my statement about the Palestinians being responsible for their own problems is taken from a Murdochian source - which, I assure you, it isn't. That doesn't make it any less true. In 2007 the people of Gaza elected Hamas; Hamas de facto declared war on Israel and fires rockets at Israeli civilians on a daily basis to underline this; and the people of Gaza suffer. They suffer because millions of international aid money is spent on armaments instead of houses, schools, economic development; and they suffer when Israel eventually retaliates to try and destroy the launch pads and munitions dumps which Hamas deliberately locate in residential areas - an indication of how much they care for their people.

Since Hamas took control of Gaza, Israel has launched only 2 major attacks despite the daily rocket fire - in 2008 and 2012. How many houses, schools etc were destroyed? What was the cost of rebuilding them? What percentage of the millions in international aid received since 2007 was spent on rebuilding? And what happened to the rest of it?

Israel has been seeking peace with Gaza since the Oslo Accords. It demonstrated its commitment in 2005 when it pulled out of Gaza completely and handed control over to the PA. The PA showed similar commitment by keeping a lid on terrorist activity and the 2 parties lived side by side in relative peace. When Hamas - internationally regarded as a terrorist organisation - was elected in 2007, Israel offered to negotiate with them as it had been doing with the PA provided Hamas rescinded those parts of its Charter which called for the total destruction of Israel and death to all Jews. Hamas refused and has attacked Israel ever since.

Quite simply, the people of Gaza could live in peace if Hamas were to cease hostilities. Then there would be no need for Israel to retaliate.

"...instead of simply swallowing Palestinian lies and propaganda"

Apologists for Israeli apartheid get real upset when the truth finally catches up to their lies, so they start spewing out even more lies.

Not only did Israel break the international boycott against apartheid South Africa by selling weapons to the regime, it also offered to sell them nuclear weapons. Israel was also the only UN member state to afford diplomatic recognition to some of the apartheid Bantustans, which were designed to ensure that South Africa remained a white and democratic state.

But South African apartheid and Israeli apartheid are not the same.
- At least the supremacist Afrikaners did not ethnically cleanse the indigenous majority to neighbouring African states (thereby rendering the overwhelming indigenous majority into a controllable minority in their own homeland).

- At least the supremacist Afrikaners did not use their state-of-the-art warplanes, warships and artillery to blitzkrieg, cluster and phosphorus bomb besieged and defenceless indigenous towns, cities and bantustans.

- At least the supremacist Afrikaners gave up on trying to extort their victims into agreeing to enforced inferiority in their own homeland ("the right to exist as a white state" in what would have been the only white state (of 54) in the whole of Africa).

So let me get this right. You're saying that the reason for the ANC boycott is simply revenge for the fact that Israel did not boycott South Africa in the days of white rule? That's about the only part of your rant that makes sense and might even be grounded in fact instead of Arab lies and propaganda. I'm not sure whether you're making these statements out of ignorance or an inability to comprehend the whole situation or just inherent anti-Israel prejudice. Perhaps you could tell me.

Mind you, I'm pleased to note that you've invented an new kind of 'apartheid' - not the traditional one where people living in the same country are treated unequally but one where people living in neighbouring states are treated differently to Israeli citizens. The people to whom you refer are refugees in Jordan and Gaza (which was previously governed by Egypt) and Lebanon as a result of the wars waged by the Arab nations - in 1948, 1967 and 1973 - to try and destroy Israel. Over the same period Israel absorbed some 750,000 Jews (and others) who were expelled from Arab / Muslim nations, but I don't hear any outcry about this.

However I do agree that the refugees are ill-treated by comparison. Perhaps Israel should follow the example of Jordan and Lebanon and Syria and Egypt in its treatment of those people living outside its borders but under its supervision. Please give me some concrete examples of what Israel could and should do without jeopardising the safety and security of its own citizens.

Apologists for Israeli apartheid get real upset when the truth finally catches up to their lies, so they start spewing out even more lies.

Israeli apartheid is covered by the legal definition of the crime of apartheid. The crime of apartheid is defined by the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as inhumane acts of a character similar to other crimes against humanity "committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime."

As has been well documented, Israeli apartheid is practised within Israel (1967 borders) and in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories.

Back in the apartheid heydays of South Africa, when the whole world was boycotting the apartheid regime, the only state to maintain relations with it was Israel, ElAl Israeli national airways was the only airways to maintain its routine flights to Johannesburg.

Your point being?

This is an interesting piece of news - Where do you think apartheid Afrikaans favorited desitenation after leaving South Africa:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

What peace does Israel want if they continue building on occupied land, that shows Israel's intention is to leave the Palestians with nothing to negotiate for. If Israel was serious about peace they would freeze the settlement which is against international law. Everybody knows that Israel with USA support are above the law.