PRESS STATEMENT: PR Gone Wrong On Israeli Propaganda Trip, participant speaks out

01 August 2015
A recent Israeli PR exercise organised by the South Africa Israel Forum (SAIF) has gone wrong.
SAIF is part of the Israeli lobby in South Africa which works with the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and SA Zionist Federation in attempting to undermine the growing non-violent BDS boycott of Israel movement. SAIF recently arranged a "propaganda holiday trip" to Israel for a group of young South Africans.
One participant, Ms Nazreen Pandor, a young Johannesburg based lawyer and businesswoman has, subsequent to the trip, been publicly critical of Israel and its policies. Instead of singing praises for Israel, Pandor has broken rank.
SAIF and organisers of the trip attempted, according to Pandor, to convince the participants that the situation in Palestine-Israel is a two sided, "complicated matter” instead of a clear-cut issue of oppression and violation of international law and human rights. 

In a meeting, which concluded in the issuing of this statement, Nazreen Pandor reported to BDS South Africa: “On my return, I have reflected a lot on the trip and my experiences. While in Israel on the SAIF trip I had first hand experienced my freedom of movement and association being curtailed by Israel. My basic rights as a young muslim woman were violated; rights that are protected today in democratic South Africa but were once denied to people under Apartheid. I would like to stress that, from what I witnessed and have read, my one or two negative experiences of detainment and harassment while in Israel are what Palestinians probably go through on a daily basis.”
Pandor also added: “Yes, I was detained by Israeli authorities upon my arrival into the country but I was also harassed when walking the streets of Jerusalem with a group of young Palestinian woman on our way back from Masjidul Al Aqsa, Islam’s third holiest sight. Harassment to or from a place of worship exposes Israel’s basic disregard of religious freedom. Israel's claims of respecting Palestinian worshippers rights to religions sites, either muslim or christian, would seem to me a façade. Hampering religious freedoms in what is already a highly politicised conflict, complicates things even further in my view. I cannot as a Muslim woman, keep quiet about what I personally experienced, that would mean that my trip was in vain."  

Pandor criticised Israel’s violation of human rights saying: “There can be no human rights under occupation. Israel’s occupation of Palestine is clearly illegal under international law. ”

Pandor, the Chairperson of the South African Youth Employment Index intends on exploring with BDS South Africa ways in which to bring to South Africa young Palestinians involved in the non-violent BDS campaign as well as young progressive Israelis who are also involved with the non-violent BDS campaign. BDS South Africa welcomes such an initiative as it is in line with our long standing position that we are not anti-Israeli but anti the policies of Israel and associated institutions. We enjoy relations with and should promote those Israeli comrades part of the BDS movement.

The Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation BDS South Africa has been approached by various participants of the recent Israeli propaganda holiday trip organised by the SA Israel Forum. BDS South Africa welcomes Pandor's willingness to come forward, in her case this recent SAIF sanction-busting holiday trip has failed.
However we remain of the firm opinion that no young person should accept these sanctions busting trips to Israel as its a violation of not only our organisational positions but what Palestinians themselves together with progressive Israeli comrades have asked for (not to participate in these trips).

Following the Israeli tour and subsequent controversy, including South Africa’s ruling ANC party slamming the trip, some of the participants have distanced themselves and expressed regret for associating with the South Africa Israel Forum. 


To arrange an interview with Ms. Nazreen Pandor or for further info, contact 0842119988
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