By Yaseen Kippie
A call for the ANC to vote to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel has been made by the South African Muslim Network (SAMNET). The vote will take place at the ANC’s National Elective Conference later this month.
SAMNET Chairperson Dr Faizal Suleman says the call, which echoes the calls of the BDS movement in SA, ANC members and some of its alliance partners, is a measure of indicating the displeasure from the overwhelming majority of South Africa towards the way Israel has continued its expansions in occupied Palestinian territories, and its human rights abuses.
Suleman says negotiations taken on by world leaders “have not manifested in practical solutions.”
“Israel, with its backing from Western countries and its allies in the Arab world, need to pressured. It’s important to show that the world opinion is against them. Mandla Mandela’s trip to Palestine, Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s support, and Jewish people against the occupation, are all encouraged as forms of engagement to pressure Israel.”
Suleman makes it clear that this is not an election ploy. “This is not about party political matters. Its about policy determining, which the NEC is about.”
South Africans and Palestinians have a lot in common. “We expect the ruling party to do the right thing. The ANC is also being strongly lobbied, and therefore it is not inconceivable that they do not pass this resolution. There may be delegates who have been won over by Israel,” Suleman remarked.
Suleman says Muslim supporters of the Democratic Alliance (DA), known for its support of Israel, should ask themselves if there voices are being heard in their own party.
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) hosted a panel discussion last month with the chairperson of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL), Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva. The discussion viewed the opinion that a downgrade would have negative implications for South Africa.
National Co-ordinator for the BDS SA, Muhammad Desai, says “the Israeli lobby has spent millions of rands trying to lobby regions, branch members, buy off and pay members of the ANC to oppose the downgrading in Tel Aviv. These are ludicrous claims that it will negatively affect South Africa. We don’t leave tomatoes from Israel, we can create them locally. All of the arguments are hogwash. There is no constitutional threat whatsoever.”
According to Desai, the downgrade has received support from Hamas and Fatah. He also says it is laughable that the SAJBD is concerned with Palestinian statehood when they say the downgrade will affect a separate Palestinian state. “It is as ridiculous as saying that sanctions on Apartheid South Africa would harm blacks. The Israeli government does not represent the masses of Palestinians.”
“We hope members of the ANC will stand their ground and make sure this gets passed and implemented by the South African government. [VOC]