South Africa's ruling party endorses campaign to boycott Israel

21 December 2012

At its 53rd National Conference, the African National Congress (ANC) led by South African President Jacob Zuma has adopted a motion endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The ANC adopted policies urging South Africans to support any Palestinian campaigns that "pressure Israel to end its violations of international law, respect Palestinian human rights and engage in fair negotiations for a just peace." Another resolution adopted affirms that 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.”

The ANC – once led by Nelson Mandela - also strongly condemned the Israeli "state-sponsored xenophobic attacks and deportation" of African migrants. "The ANC abhors the recent Israeli state-sponsored xenophobic attacks and deportation of Africans and request that this matter should be referred to the African Union," the text states. The resolution cites comments from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Interior Minister Eli Yishai and MK Miri Regev as examples for Israeli racism.

In August, the South African government approved a plan to require special labels on products coming from the settlements so that they do not read ‘Made in Israel’. The decision came despite protests from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and other Israel supporters in the country. The same month, Zuma’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim called upon South African citizens to refrain from visiting Israel. In May, former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu penned an open letter to the United Methodist Church urging it to boycott Israel, alleging that the Palestinians were “being oppressed more than the apartheid ideologues could ever dream about in South Africa.”

Earlier this week, a group of South African Christian leaders joined the country’s chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein, to urge the ANC party to treat Israel fairly. The religious leaders wrote an open letter than appeared on the front page of the ‘Sunday Times’  newspaper to coincide with the opening of the ANC convention. “South Africa has no just cause for choosing sides,” the letter read. “We should support both sides in their struggle for a peaceful solution.”

“When South Africa’s ruling party chooses sides in this bitter conflict, our country loses the credibility to be a voice for peace between the parties, and only the agenda of conflict is served. Such actions impede a peaceful solution that would enable Jews to live in their ancient Biblical land in peace side by side with their Muslim neighbors,” the leaders stated.

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