MEDIA RELEASE: Statement from South African Jewish dissidents on Israel-Palestine
Over the weekend a group of Jewish South Africans, belonging to the newly formed human rights organization, StopTheJNF, published an open statement distancing themselves from two mainstream but conservative South African Jewish representative bodies, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF). The new group cite the SAJBD and SAZF's "support for Israel at all costs" as one reason of contention.
The StopTheJNF's open statement reads:
"As Jews, with our own painful history of oppression, we are compelled to speak out against human rights violations being committed by the State of Israel – in our name – against the Palestinian people.

"We note that the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) together with the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), recently met with the South African Presidency and other politicians. We also note, with great concern, the SAJBD and SAZF’s assertion that they represent and speak on behalf of all Jewish South Africans, particularly when it comes to Palestine-Israel.

"Let us be clear, the SAJBD and SAZF’s position of supporting Israel at all costs does not represent us. We also appeal to the SAJBD and SAZF to respect one of the hallmarks of Judaism: respectful debate amongst those who hold divergent viewpoints. The SAJBD and SAZF’s position on Israel, and attempts to stifle opposing voices that speak out against Israel, is morally untenable."
"The Jewish community is neither homogeneous nor monolithic.  There is a growing number of Jews, in South Africa and around the world, who are organising to form alternative spaces and who unconditionally oppose Israeli policies and practices that shamefully privilege Jews over the indigenous Palestinian people.  In this vein, we support the non-violent campaign of applying Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it abides by international law and respects basic human rights [].

"We are encouraged that our South African government is joining those countries that are taking a clear stance against Israel’s violations of international law and its acts of violence against the Palestinian people []. We also welcome and support our Department of Trade and Industry's initiative to prevent the false labelling of Israeli settlement products []. We hope that the ANC and the SA Government goes further and completely bans Israeli settlement products. Israeli settlements are in clear violation of international law and seriously undermine any chance of negotiations and a just peace.

"Such positions as those recently taken by our government against Israeli violence and violations of international law, in fact, serve to affirm a proud Jewish tradition of respect for justice and human rights; regardless of race, religion or creed. Such positions connect us to our fellow humanity.

"We humbly - and sadly - acknowledge that our voices may not be the dominant ones in our community, but neither were Dietrich Bonnhoefer’s in Nazi Germany nor Beyers Naude’s, Antjie Krog’s, Braam Fischer’s and Joe Slovo’s in Apartheid South Africa.

"Our individual consciences, our Jewish tradition and our painful history compel us to declare to the SAJBD, SAZF and to the Israeli government that we will continue to speak out and take a stand for justice and human rights.  Taking such a stand is in the very interests of being Jewish. For when we proclaim “Never Again”, we should mean “Never Again”, unconditionally, and to any human being - including the Palestinians.
The statement was issued by Alan Horwitz for StopTheJNF, an organization initiated by a group of Jewish South Africans committed to justice and human rights for the Palestinian people and Jewish Israelis. 
Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of BDS South Africa welcomed the StopTheJNF statement: "The StopTheJNF statement is a much-needed breath of fresh air and has indeed been written in the spirit of those brave white apartheid dissidents such as Braam Fischer, Antjie Krog, Joe Slovo, Beyers Naude, Ruth First and others that spoke out from within their oppressive communities and whom we celebrate today . The StopTheJNF statement is both important and powerful, and should be celebrated by all justice-loving peoples."
Mentioned in the above statement is Joe Slovo: the well-known South African Treason Trialist, founding member of the South African Congress of Democrats, the former South African Communist Party General-Secretary, the Chief of Staff  during the 1980s of the African National Congress' armed wing (Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK)) and a leading NEC member of South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC). Slovo, who was born Jewish, was an outspoken critic of Apartheid South Africa as well as a consistent critic of the Israeli regime - which he also considered an Apartheid state. In an unfinished autobiography, Joe Slovo wrote: "Ironically enough, the horrors of the Holocaust became the rationalization [by Israeli supporters] for ... acts of genocide against the indigenous people of Palestine. Those of us who, in the years that were to follow, raised our voices publicly against the violent apartheid of the Israeli state were vilified...".
Muhammed Desai +27 (0) 84 211 9988 (BDS South Africa)
Alan Horwitz: +27 (0) 82 512 8188 (StopTheJNF)
Shereen Usdin: +27 (0) 82 652 4844 (StopTheJNF)
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