Historic decision : South Africa’s ANC makes support for Israel boycott its official policy

My Catbird Seat December 21, 2012 0
Historic decision : South Africa’s ANC makes support for Israel boycott its official policy

Prior to October’s decision at the ANC’s International Solidarity Conference – that set the stage for today’s vote at the National Conference – more than 150 former anti-Apartheid activists from around the world signed a statement calling on the ANC to support the boycott.

 

by Ali Abunimah

For the first time ever, the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party in South Africa, today made the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel part of its official policy.

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of BDS South Africa said the decision “by the ANC’s National Conference, its highest decision making body, is by far the most authoritative endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.”

In a press release sent out by email, BDS South Africa explained:

In October 2012, the ANC’s International Solidarity Conference (ISC) declared its full support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.

Today, Lindiwe Zulu (member of the ANC’s International Relations Sub-Committee and special advisor to President Jacob Zuma) announced at the ANC’s 53rd National Conference plenary session, the ANC’s official endorsement, as captured in Resolution 39 (b), of the ANC’s October International Solidarity Conference (ISC) and all its resolutions, which includes a resolution on BDS. Giving muscle to resolution 39 (b), the ANC has committed to set up a steering committee to implement these ISC resolutions.

In addition, the ANC adopted resolution 35 (g) that specifically called for “all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel to engage with the Palestinian people to reach a just solution.”

Solidarity with Africans mistreated by Israel

BDS South Africa also applauded the ANC National Conference for passing a resolution that “abhors the recent Israeli state-sponsored xenophobic attacks and deportation of Africans” and to “request that this matter should be escalated to the African Union.”

Failed effort by South African Zionist groups

In the days leading up to the conference, Jewish communal and Zionst organizations had expressed worries about the impending vote. JTA reported on 18 December:

A marked anti-Israel swing by the South African government in recent months has caused consternation among South African Jews and Christian supporters of Israel.

This concern reached a climax with the possibility of the passage of a boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, resolution at the ANC’s 53rd National Conference in Mangaung, which ends Dec. 20.

The groups mounted intense efforts to forestall the resolution:

The [South African] Jewish Board of Deputies sent a letter to the ANC prior to the conference in which it calls for evenhandedness on the Israel-Palestinian issue, and asks that the letter be read out loud at the conference if the resolution is proposed.

An open letter to the ANC signed by a number of religious leaders was published on the front page of South Africa’s widest-circulating paper, the Sunday Times. It called on the ANC not to take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Titled “Choosing Peace”, the letter outlined the violence and battles throughout the ages for control of Israel.

The effort to call for “evenhandedness” and “not to take sides” indicates the weakness of anti-Palestinian groups who can no longer dream of a pro-Israel policy. Israel was one of the closest allies and biggest arms suppliers to South Africa’s former apartheid regime until the 1994 transition to democracy.

In what BDS South Africa termed a “final blow to the Israeli lobby” the National Conference passed a resolution that stated:

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.

Growing solidarity in South Africa

Recently high-level South African church leaders, shocked at what they saw when they visited Palestine, also expressed support for the boycott.

In August, South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim advised his country’s citizens not to travel to Israel “because of the treatment and policies of Israel towards the Palestinian people.”

Prior to October’s decision at the ANC’s International Solidarity Conference – that set the stage for today’s vote at the National Conference – more than 150 former anti-Apartheid activists from around the world signed a statement calling on the ANC to support the boycott.

Today, those voices and those of solidarity groups in South Africa, proved to be more effective than the appeals of the once mighty anti-Palestinian groups.

Full BDS South Africa Press release

MEDIA RELEASE: S. Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, reaffirms boycott of Israel resolution

South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), at its 53rd National Conference, reaffirmed a resolution supporting the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.

In October 2012, the ANC’s International Solidarity Conference (ISC) declared its full support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign (ISC Declaration, page 2, point 10).

Today, Lindiwe Zulu (member of the ANC’s International Relations Sub-Committee and special advisor to President Jacob Zuma) announced at the ANC’s 53rd National Conference plenary session, the ANC’s official endorsement, as captured in Resolution 39 (b), of the ANC’s October International Solidarity Conference (ISC) and all its resolutions, which includes a resolution on BDS. Giving muscle to resolution 39 (b), the ANC has committed to set up a steering committee to implement these ISC resolutions.

In addition, the ANC adopted resolution 35 (g) that specifically called for “all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel to engage with the Palestinian people to reach a just solution.” In 2005 Palestinian civil society issued a call to the international community for a program and campaign of  boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to be applied against Israel as a way to pressure Israel to end its violations of international law, respect Palestinian human rights and engage in fair negotiations for a just peace.

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of BDS South Africa welcomed today’s decision: “This reaffirmation by the ANC’s National Conference, its highest decision making body, is by far the most authoritative endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign. The ANC has now taken its international conference resolutions, and officially made it the policy of the ANC. We look forward to working with the ANC and specifically the ISC steering committee to expedite its implementation.”

Another hard-hitting decision on Israel that was adopted by the ANC was resolution 35 (j): “The ANC abhors the recent Israeli state-sponsored xenophobic attacks and deportation of Africans and request that this matter should be escalated to the African Union”.  In June this year Israeli anti-African protests turned into full-fledged race riots. Israeli racism and xenophobia against Africans is shared and even encouraged by Israeli politicians including the Israeli Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said: “If we don’t stop their [African immigrants’] entry, the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000, and that threatens our existence…and threatens 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 parliamentarian, Miri Regev, has publicly compared Sudanese people to “a cancer”.

Finally, in a blow to the Israeli lobby, the ANC also adopted resolution 35 (c) stating: “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.” In the build up to the ANC’s National Conference the Israeli lobby, including the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, demanded a “balanced” and “nonpartisan” rather than a decisive and solidarity role by the ANC in the Palestinian-Israeli issue.

ISSUED BY MBUYISENI NDLOZI FOR BDS SOUTH AFRICA


Ali Hasan Abunimah is a Palestinian American journalist and co-founder of Electronic Intifada, a not-for-profit, independent online publication about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.

 

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