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South African Jews reject Israeli official’s meeting with ANC

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November 9, 2017

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SAJFP MEDIA STATEMENT

We as Jewish South Africans reject the ANC’s International Relations Sub Committee meeting with Israeli politician Tzachi Hanegbi.

Hanegbi has a history of violence. As president of his student union in 1980, he received a six-month suspended sentence for leading an attack on Palestinian students, he has also served in the Israeli Defense Force (that we need not remind you is guilty of human rights abuses and crimes against the Palestinians). In addition, in July this year, through a despicable Facebook post, Hanegbi threatened Palestinians with a further round of ethnic cleansing.

Furthermore, Hanegbi was part of a group of Israeli politicians who in January this year backed a racist anti-African law. Hanegbi voted in favor of the “Prevention of Infiltration Law and Ensuring the Exit of Infiltrators from Israel (Legislative Amendments and Temporary Provisions) (Amendment), 5767 – 2016” which proposed the seizing of wages from non-Jewish African refugees to coerce them to self-deport. Israeli racism against Africans is shared and even encouraged by leading Israeli politicians including the likes of Hanegbi as well as Israeli Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said that Africans in Israel “threaten 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 Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev, has publicly compared Africans to “a cancer”. It was also revealed in 2013 that Israel was forcing African women to take birth control injections without their consent.

We appreciate that the Hanegbi/ANC meeting was not an official government to government meeting, however, Israel has already issued a statement misconstruing the facts – suggesting that this was an inter-ministerial meeting. Hanegbi himself has tweeted that he was “in the first ministerial meetings between @Israel and @GovernmentZA in 5 years”. The ANC has not rejected this Israeli PR strongly or forcefully enough. And, the larger question remains, why would the ANC have held such a meeting in the first place?  How would the ANC view a meeting during the 1970s of, for example, an ally, Julius Nyerere’s Tanzania African National Union (TANU), meeting with a Minister from Apartheid South Africa? The ANC and the larger liberation movement would rightfully have condemned such moves and likewise Palestinians – as well as human rights supporting Jewish South Africans and our progressive Jewish Israelis allies also condemn this.

SAJFP reaffirms our support for the ANC National Policy Conference’s recommendation to downgrade the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv. We hope that the ANC’s International Relations Sub-Committee is not attempting to derail this recommendation from its branches. The downgrade is a concrete step beyond rhetoric. Israel must be held accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people and a clear message must be sent that there are no normal relations with an abnormal regime.

We would like to again draw attention to the letter that a group of progressive Jewish Israelis sent to the ANC also supporting the call for a downgrade of relations and support of the BDS boycott of Israel. In their letter to the ANC, our Israeli friends explained that:

“After many years of trying to change our society from within, we have come to the conclusion that an international campaign, such as the boycott against apartheid South Africa, is necessary to change the situation here. We believe that the time has come for further measures. Governments including the South African government should be downgrading diplomatic relations and their embassies in Israel, to send a clear message to Israel that its violations of international law are unacceptable. Ultimately we call on the ANC to strengthen its support for the BDS movement and Palestinian struggle.”

We humbly submit that the ANC should be taking its direction from the oppressed, from the Palestinians, who have called for the downgrade, as well as progressive Israelis who are working towards a just peace in Israel-Palestine and who have also called for the downgrade of the Embassy. The ANC should not be taking its direction from the oppressor – from the Israeli government!

For more information please contact:
Allan Horwitz:  0825128188

*South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP) is an organisation of South African Jews wishing to see a just resolution to the conflict in Historic Palestine. We strongly believe in the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, “Repairing the World” which embodies social action and the pursuit of social justice. Historically Jews have been involved struggles to achieve social justice and we are proud to continue this tradition. Furthermore, as Jews, we feel obliged to speak out against injustice purportedly carried out in our name.

08 November 2017

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