Dear Friends, 

The 2012 ANC Policy Conference at Gallagher Estate has concluded. The conference reaffirmed the ANC's policy of progressive internationalism and has undertaken to "increase" the ANC's support for the Palestinian people and the boycott of Israel. 

Member of the ANC's International Relations Commission (and special adviser to President Jacob Zuma) Lindiwe Zulu, reported at a media briefing that: "[T]he ANC would continue to support Palestine and [has] called for an increased boycott on Israeli products".
The ANC's long-standing position on Palestine is part of its broader progressive internationalism. It is increasingly clear that the ANC is not simply offering "generalized" support to the oppressed but has chosen to support specific things that will lend concrete solidarity and contribute toward peace. With Swaziland, the ANC has insisted that the Swazi government sign an MOU on "democratisation and unbanning of political parties". On Palestine, the ANC has taken measures that will ensure sufficient pressure is brought for a just and negotiated resolution - similar to the pressure, negotiations and solution in South Africa. The complete and full ANC Policy Conference proposals will be released in due course by ANC's Luthuli House. We look forward to the ANC stregnthening its resolution on Palestine even further during the Mangaung conference in December.

In taking this position, together with the recent announcement by the Department of Trade & Industry to prevent the mislabeling of Israeli goods, the ANC is not acting alone, with support coming from suprising quarters:

- The former Director-General of Israel's Foreign Ministry, Alon Liel, has backed the boycott of Israeli products terming it a "wake-up call" and saying that "such a non-violent wake-up call is needed" in Israel. Also, subsequent to Israel accusing the ANC and South Africa of racism due to SA's position on Israel, Liel has bravely broken ranks and come out defending South Africa: "The ANC, which toppled apartheid, is still ruling the country [and] to use that term, racism, for the government that toppled apartheid is very counterproductive.” 
- Avrum Burg, the former Speaker of Israel's parliament, recently wrote in the UK's Independent Newspaper: "Even I – an Israeli – think Israeli settlement goods are not kosher...we need intervention from the tell Israel that it is impossible to be treated as 'the only democracy in the Middle East', while it is also the last colonial occupier in the Western world. It is not anti-Semitic.. to convey these messages."
- Palestinian Prime Minsiter, Salam Fayyad, has personally thanked South Africa and has also called on other countries to follow SA's lead and boycott Israeli products.
- Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement wrote in South Africa's Mail&Guardian newspaper describing how other countries are closely following the ANC and South Africa. He explained how the Irish foreign minister, Eamon Gilmore, told a media briefing after a recent European Union (EU) foreign ministers’ meeting that Dublin might very soon be proposing a Europe-wide ban on Israeli products during its EU presidency in early 2013.

- Archbishop Desmond Tutu together with Zapiro, Zackie Achmat and several others have endorsed a public petition supporting the South African government. You too can lend your support by signing the petition, here

On the other spectrum, reactionary but marginal groups, like the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) together with the ACDP and IFP have come out attacking the ANC and South African government. But this is back-firing with various South African bodies publicly challenging the righ-wing groups' "blind support for Israel". For example, South African Christians have slammed the ACDP's "misguided" support for Israel (click here);  the South African Communist Party has criticized the IFP's support for Israel as "baseless" (click here); and, COSATU has exposed how the SAZF is luring people by promising "free tshirts and refreshments" to anyone that would attend their pro-Israel protest (click here).

Meanwhile, there have been some MAJOR international divestment from Israel victories:
DIVESTMENT FROM ISRAEL VICTORY: After active boycott campaigning, the global retirement fund, TIAA-CREF, has dumped 72 million dollars of Caterpillar shares from its TISCX investment portfolio. Caterpillar is notorious for its supply of military bulldozers, amongst other equipment, to the Israeli regime. 

[ANOTHER] DIVESTMENT FROM ISRAEL VICTORY: Norway's government-run pension fund, the largest pension fund in Europe, has announced that it will divest all its shares from the Israeli real estate firm, Shikun Binui, that profits from Israel's illegal activities. The Norwegian fund is worth $587 billion dollars, and this divestment decision will affect over 1 million dollars worth of Israeli shares.

Finally, the world renown African-American author, Alice Walker, has refused the Israeli company, Yediot Books, from publishing her award-winning novel, 'The Color Purple'. In the 1980s during Apartheid here, Walker also refused South Africa permission to screen the movie adaptation of her book, she writes: "How happy we all were when the apartheid regime [in South Africa] was dismantled…only then did we send our beautiful movie! And to this day, when I am in South Africa, I can hold my head high and nothing obstructs the love that flows between me and the people of that country."
We salute Alice Walker's moral consistency, for having opposed apartheid in South Africa, and now opposing apartheid in Israel!
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ANC demands boycott of Israeli products

2012-07-01 10:00
Conference delegates want more solidarity with Palestine

A boycott against all products imported from Israel is on the cards if ANC members get their way.

At the ruling party’s policy conference which ended on Friday, delegates voiced their concern about the lack of vigour in the ANC’s solidarity campaign with Palestine.

“Many members say there must be an increase in the boycott of products that are imported from Israel to South Africa,” said Lindiwe Zulu, presidential adviser on international relations and member of the ANC’s international relations subcommittee.

Zulu told reporters that delegates felt there must be “an increase in visibility on Palestine”.

In a move that is set to upset Israel, delegates wanted a full boycott of Israeli products to show that the ANC’s solidarity with Palestine has not changed.

Recently this was a topic of discussion at an NEC meeting in May, and shortly after that trade and industry minister Rob Davies announced that products from the occupied territories must be labelled as such.

This irked Israel immensely because the Jewish state does not believe that Gaza and the West Bank are occupied. They believe these areas rightfully belong to Israel.

On Thursday the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) joined Jewish groups in a march opposing the labelling of products from the occupied territories. 

According to ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe, the march drew about 1 600 people and a memorandum was handed over at the headquarters of the department of trade and industry in Pretoria. The ACDP believes South Africa should not take sides in the Middle Eastern crisis and rather position itself as a credible mediator, Meshoe said.

Israeli lobbyists believe if the labelling notice becomes law, Israeli companies will refuse to label goods and therefore stop exporting them to South Africa, a move that may have an impact on some industries like the beauty products industry.

Labelling of goods that say “West Bank” may be considered, Israeli lobbyists say, but not “occupied territories”.

Palestinian lobby groups want South Africa to become part of the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign to force Israel to reach an agreement over Palestinian land.

The South African government is wary of such a move, as it may create tension between South African and the United States, which is a key ally of Israel.

Meanwhile, Zulu announced that Swaziland has finally agreed to loan conditions for a R2,4 billion bailout from South Africa.

Zulu said the ANC will partner with Cosatu to come out strongly against the abuses of the Swazi government, especially the jailing of Swazi activists.

“There are those languishing in jail with no prospect of being charged or a court process being followed. This must stop,” she said. She warned that South Africa will regret “waiting too long” to deal decisively with Swaziland.

“We don’t want the same situation we had in Zimbabwe, where we waited too long. We shouldn’t wait until it erupts into a full-scale fire.” She also said the ANC wants the South African government to develop a code of conduct for entrepreneurs who do business in the rest of Africa.

“We’ve had quite a number of complaints from African countries about our businesspeople. There must be institutional recourse if our people do not do what they should do,” she said.