“Because of the treatment and policies of Israel towards the Palestinian people, we strongly discourage South Africans from going there,” South Africa’s deputy minister of international relations and co-operation has told the Mail & Guardian.
The Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim added that this was South Africa’s “general policy,” but more so “in regard to municipalities, since they are part of government.”
South African mayor’s visit to Israel canceled
The minister’s comments came in the wake of the cancelation of a visit to Israel by a delegation of mayors and municipal leaders from South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The Mail & Guardian reported:
A South African pro-Palestinian lobby group has welcomed the news that a delegation of mayors and other members of several KwaZulu-Natal municipalities has cancelled a planned visit to Israel.
“This is a major setback for the Israeli lobby and particularly the SA-Israel Forum, which we believe had organised the trip,” said Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, a board member of the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement of South Africa. “The KZN province should be commended for its principled position. Now that the Israeli lobby has been exposed and, in a way, caught red-handed, it will be difficult for it to do its pro-Israeli work.
The newspaper reported that KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize had confirmed the cancelation of the visit that was supposed to have taken place last month.
“Boycott-busting” similar to South Africa’s apartheid regime.
The cancelation of the South African mayors’ visit comes just months after the South African government decided to require that goods originating from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank will be labeled as such. This has been seen as a first step toward banning such goods altogether.
Ronnie Kasrils, a former minister, and one of the legendary founders of the armed wing of the African National Congress during the struggle against apartheid, welcomed the mayors’ move.
“During the days of Apartheid we had similar attempts by the regime to undermine the isolation of South Africa. It is not surprising that the Israeli lobby is also attempting to ensnare the unwary into boycott-busting trips,” Kasrils was quoted saying in a release from BDS South Africa.
KwaZulu-Natal’s “rejection of this opportunistic invite is commendable and an example to all South Africans believing in justice and solidarity for the dispossessed Palestinians,” Kasrils added.
COSATU – the confederation of South African trade unions – which has fully endorsed the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel – commended KwaZulu Natal for its “principled decision not to go on this trip organized by the Israeli lobby.” COSATU’s Zanele Matebula added “it is about time that the SA-Israel Forum and their boycott-busting trips to Israel has been exposed.”
SA-Israel Forum an “arm of the Israel lobby”
BDS South Africa explained that in violation of the Palestinian cal for BDS, the lobby group SA-Israel Forum
has attempted several “boycott-busting” trips to Israel. The SA-Israel Forum is mostly a covert arm of the Israeli lobby operating in South Africa with direct connections to CapeGate - a South African company that, shamefully, supplies material to, and profits from, the construction of Israel’s notorious, “Apartheid Wall”).
The SA-Israel Forum seeks to co-opt business and entice local government by circumventing SA’s national policy- - which is to discourage relations with the Israeli regime. The Israeli lobby in general, and the SA-Israel Forum in particular, have been taking members from the academic, sports, business, media and local government sectors to forge relations with the Israeli establishment (which is becoming increasingly isolated because of Israel’s oppression toward the Palestinian people and active BDS campaigning worldwide).
It likened these efforts to apartheid South Africa’s propaganda efforts “to build relations for an isolated Pretoria regime.”
The cancelation of the KwaZulu-Natal mayors’ visit demonstrates, however, that these efforts are meeting with more resistance and that BDS is winning victories in South Africa.