Jewish organisations condemn ANC resolution on Israel

21 December 2017 - 07:55 By Timeslive
Delegates singing ahead of the ANC elective conference starting in Nasrec.
Delegates singing ahead of the ANC elective conference starting in Nasrec.
Image: Alaister Russell

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) has condemned the ANC’s resolution to downgrade the status of its Israel embassy.

The resolution was taken at the ANC’s 54th national conference on Wednesday. The decision followed a recent announcement by US President Donald Trump that his country would formally recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel‚ drawing widespread criticism.

“We question the motives behind this discriminatory decision that would effectively prevent South Africa from playing any mediatory role in bringing about peace or dialogue between Israel and Palestine‚” the SAJBD and SAZF said in a statement.

“This downgrade will do nothing for the Palestinian people‚ and have a detrimental effect on South Africans. We further question the motives of organisations and individuals who have managed to ‘capture’ the ANC’s international relations agenda‚ including the BDS.”

The ruling ANC has been a long-time ally of the Palestinian independence movement‚ dating back to the struggle against apartheid. South African government officials have also frequently engaged in diplomatic efforts to solve the Middle East crisis. The recognition of Jerusalem is at the centre of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Israel views the entire city as its capital‚ while the Palestinians consider the east of the city occupied territory.

The SAJBD and SAZF said the ANC’s stance had implications for South African tourism and trade‚ as well as diminishing the country’s status as a meaningful peace broker. The organisations also said that a downgrade would harm social cohesion and “ the ability of Jews and committed Christians to practice and identify with their religious and cultural heritage”.

“South African Jewry feel betrayed by the liberation movement of the ANC structures and are deeply disappointed that they were persuaded by those with (an) obsession to vilify the Jewish state‚” they said.