Office 915
Ninth Floor
Khotso House
62 Marshall Street
Johannesburg, South Africa
07 November 2013
Dear Friends and Comrades,
In this YouTube video the Deputy Minister in South Africa's Presidency and current Head of International Relations for South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, Obed Bapela, outlines South Africa's policy of banning government travel to Israel (click here to watch). In October 2012 the ANC's International Solidarity Conference (ISC), adopted a resolution in support of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign. Two months later, in December 2012,  the ANC's 53rd National Elective Conference in Mangaung endorsed the ISC resolutions (which included the resolution supporting the BDS campaign), committed to set up a steering committee to implement these ANC ISC resolutions and also called on, more generally, "all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel." Click here to watch.
The Israeli Embassy and lobby in SA tries to circumvent South African government policy --which is to discourage relations with the Israeli regime-- by taking members from the academic, sports, business, media and local government sectors on all-paid-for boycott-busting trips to Israel. In 2012, such a visit was cancelled by the Premier of KZN (and now Treasurer-General of the ANC), Zweli Mkhize. Welcoming the cancellation, former South african Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils commented: “During the days of Apartheid [in South Africa] we had similar attempts by the regime to undermine the isolation of South Africa. It is not surprising that the Israeli lobby is also attempting to ensnare the unwary into boycott-busting trips”. Click here for more information.
In 2005, with Israeli discrimination, human rights abuses, violations of International Law and illegal Israeli settlement construction on the increase, Palestinians, inspired by the successful boycott and isolation of Apartheid South Africa, called on the international community to impose a non-violent program of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and respects human rights. The BDS campaign is not a malicious, blunt or punitive one which is out to punish Israelis but rather, it is a practical, non-violent, goal-orientated and focused campaign to hold Israel accountable to international law and that is also increasingly supported by (progressive) Israelis. The international isolation of Israel  it is hoped will lead to the necessary conditions for a just peace to be negotiated - similar to what occurred in South Africa and brought about a democratic country for all our people. Click here for more information.

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South Africa's Minister for International Relations & Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, has said that South Africa's policy is to "curtail" and "slow down" relations with Israel. At an international relations meeting hosted by South Africa's trade union confederation, COSATU, and attended by members of BDS South Africa, Nkoana-Mashabane said: “[Government] Ministers of South Africa do not visit Israel currently...our Palestinian friends have asked us in formal meetings to not engage with the [Israeli] regime. We have agreed to slow down and curtail senior leadership contact with that regime until things begin to look better.”
The South African foreign minister further criticized the Israeli regime’s occupation of Palestinian lands: “That arrangement there in Palestine keeps us awake...the last time I looked at the map of Palestine, I could not go to sleep. Its "dots", smaller than those of the homelands". Referring to the former South African Bantustans. Nkoana-Mashabane also unequivocally expressed South Africa's solidarity with the Palestinian people, stating that: “The struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle.”
COSATU (find here), NEHAWU (find here), the YCL (find here) and several other organizations have come out in support of the Minister and the SA government. On the other end of the spectrum a few pro-Israeli groups including the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, SA Zionist Federation and the Israeli Embassy in SA have attacked the South African government with Israel's Parliamentary Chairperson for Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, even accusing Minister Nkoana-Mashabane of "hypocrisy and classic anti-Semitism" for criticizing Israel. Click here for more information.
During Apartheid, Israel was a staunch supporter and ally of Apartheid South Africa. In 1961 Hendrik Verwoed, the former Prime Minister of South Africa and architect of Apartheid said: “Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state”.

However, the cosy relations between Apartheid South Africa and Israel changed when South Africa became a democracy in 1994. Click on arrows below for more information.

--------> In 2001, Israel and the USA withdrew participation from the SA government hosted United Nations World Conference Against Racism due to accusations that Israel is an Apartheid State and that zionism is a form of racism.

--------> In 2002, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was one of the first senior South Africans to have compared Israel to Apartheid South Africa. Subsequently, others to have made the comparison include Winnie Mandela, Kgalema Motlanthe, Ahmed Kathrada, John Dugard, Breyten Breytenbach and several others.

--------> In 2003, South African President Thabo Mbeki, warned Israel that it is repeating the same mistakes of Apartheid South Africa.

--------> In 2004, the South African government submitted an affidavit to the International Court of Justice declaring that Israel's "Apartheid" Wall and Jewish-only settlements are "illegal and in violation of international law".

--------> In May 2008, several South African government leaders signed a statement calling out Israel for its apartheid policies. Signatories included Derek Hanekom (Minister of Science and Technology), Rob Davies (Minister of Trade and Industry), Blade Nzimande (Minister of Higher Education), Jeremy Cronin (Deputy Minister of Public Works), Enver Surty (Deputy Minister of Basic Education), the late Roy Padayache (Former Minister of Public Service), Dr Essop Pahad (Former Minister in the Presidency), Ronnie Kasrils (Former Minister of Intelligence), Mosibudi Mangena (Former Minister of Science and Technology), Sydney Mufamadi (Former Minister of Provincial and Local Government), Pallo Jordan (Former Minister of Arts and Culture), Frene Ginwala (Former Speaker of Parliament) and several others.

--------> In May 2009, a South African government commissioned and funded report, by the South African State research body, the HSRC, found Israel guilty of practicing policies of Apartheid against the indigenous Palestinians.

--------> In May 2010, the South African government issued a “demarche” (the strongest possible diplomatic protest short of expulsion) to Israel, whose naval forces killed 9 humanitarian aid workers.

--------> In June 2010, South Africa withdrew its ambassador from Israel for over a month following the 31st of May Israeli attack and killing of 9 humanitarian aid workers.

--------> In February 2011, South African Government Minister, Paul Mashatile, said at a press briefing: "We want to step up our support of the Palestinians and are investigating a number of peaceful ways to upgrade this support...we have no problem with supporting the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel."

--------> In April 2012 South Africa's Deputy Minister for International Relations, Ebrahim Ebrahim, conveyed SA government policy regarding travel to Israel: “Because of the treatment and policies of Israel towards the Palestinian people, we strongly discourage South Africans from going there.”

--------> In May 2012, the Minister for Agriculture in the Western Cape abandoned his trip to Israel after being informed by South Africa's Department of International Relations that visits by government officials to Israel were discouraged and had to be kept to a minimum.

--------> In July 2012, lending support to the boycott of Israel, South Africa's Deputy Minister for International Relations, Marius Fransman said: “Economic diplomacy could be one of the most effective weapons of change in the Palestinian situation. Palestinians and their supporters, inspired by the economic boycott of apartheid-era South Africa, have been trying for years to emulate our success in that terrain”.

--------> In October 2012, South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), at its International Solidarity Conference adopted a resolution in support of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.

--------> In December 2012, the ANC further called on "all South Africans to support the campaigns of Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel."

--------> In April 2013, the South African Ambassador to Israel slammed Israeli policies as a replication of Apartheid. In an open letter, the Ambassador wrote how the forced removals by Israel of Palestinians: "bears all the hallmarks of Apartheid South Africa’s forced removals...what I have witnessed in a replication of Apartheid."

--------> In February 2013, South African President, Jacob Zuma, during his official State of the Nation Address, gave special mention to Palestine, saying: "We stand with the people of Palestine as they strive to turn a new leaf in their struggle for their right to self-determination". President Zuma also criticised Israel's illegal settlement construction, warning that: "The expansion of Israeli settlements into Palestinian territories is a serious stumbling block to the resolution of the conflict."

--------> In July 2013, South Africa’s newly-appointed Ambassador to Israel, Sisa Ngombane, said: "I think the ANC took this position [to boycott Israel] to express its unhappiness about the current policies of the Israeli government and to express support for the Palestinians. Of course, the BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel] movement exists ... and of course ANC members will support it, the way they ought to support it."
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