Office 915
Ninth Floor
Khotso House
62 Marshall Street
Johannesburg, South Africa
07 November 2013
Dear Friends and Comrades,
In this YouTube video extract, 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 boycott of government travel to Israel. Click here to watch.
In Ocotber 2012 the ANC's International Solidarity Confernce (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  endorsed the ISC resolutions (which included the resolution supporting the BDS campaign), committed itself to set up a steering committee to implement these 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." The ANC Mangaung Conference also  adopted another hard-hitting resolution in support of the Palestinians: "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."
The Israeli Embassy and lobby in South Africa tries to co-opt business and entice local government by circumventing South Africa's national 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 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 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.

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South Africa's Minsiter for International Relations & Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, has said that South Africa 's official 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 homelands, which were also known as Bantustans: small cantons set up for the indigenous black South African population, away and seperated from the white population.
Nkoana-Mashabane also expressed her 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 South African organizations have come out in support of the Minister. On the other end of the specturm 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 Mashabane of "hypocrisy and classic anti-Semitism" for crtiticising Israel.
During Apartheid, Israel was a staunch supporter and ally of Apartheid South Africa. The Apartheid government's yearbook of 1976 wrote: "Israel and [Apartheid] South Africa have one thing above all else in common, they are both situated in a predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples."
However, the cosy relations between Apartheid South Africa and Israe changed since South Africa became a democracy in 1994.
--------> In 2001, Israel and the USA withdrew participation from the South African government hosted UN World Conference Against Racism due to accusations that Israel is an Apartheid State and 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 Winne Mandela, Kgalema Monthlante, Ahmed Kathrada 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 reserach body, the HSRC, found Israel guilty of practising policies of Apartheid against the 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 ambasssador from Israel for over a month following the 31st of May killing of 9 humanitarian aid workers.

--------> In February 2011, the South African Minister for Arts and Culture, 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 Minsiter 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 Miniser for Agriculture in the Western Cape abandoned his trip to Israel after the South African's Department of International Relations informed him that visits by government officials to Israel had to be kept to a minimum.

--------> In July 2012, lending support to the boycott of Israel, South Africa Deputy Minsiter 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 Ocotber 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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