The African National Congress (ANC) in the Western Cape has called for greater solidarity with the Palestinian people while urging South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs, Comrade Ayanda Dlodlo, to re-evaluate the country’s visa policy with Israel following the decision by the government in Tel Aviv to blacklist BDS South Africa along with dozens of other organisations.
The party of Nelson Mandela, which voted to downgrade South Africa’s embassy in Israel last month, cautioned the Israeli government for blacklisting supporters of the BDS movement. The organisations listed, including a Quaker group that helped save Jews from Hitler’s Nazi regime, will not be allowed entry to Israel-Palestine due to their support for BDS. The list also singles out BDS South Africa, whose members include prominent figures from the ANC.
In its statement, released following the publication of the blacklist, the ANC denounced its inclusion, pointing to many of its members that are currently serving as government ministers and who have been appointed to senior positions within the Parliament of South Africa. These MPs, premiers and mayors, said the ANC, are “vocal” in their “public supporters of Palestine”.
The ANC said that its “resolutions and policies mandate [our] deployees in government to carry out Palestine solidarity within their government portfolios”, noting that “in 2014 the ANC resolved to support the call for a cultural, academic and education boycott of Israel.” The statement mentioned that ANC officials are repeatedly instructed to boycott travel to Israel.
The Israeli banning of organisations, according to the ANC, will mean that “mayors and government officials who support boycotts of Israel will, under this recent blacklisting process, also be prevented from entering Israel-Palestine”. “This kind of thuggery,” said the ANC, was an “attempt to infringe on [our] freedom to stand against the government of Israel’s violation of international law” and “an affirmation that they are a rogue regime.”
In their denunciation, the ANC cited many of the progressive organisations that have been blacklisted for supporting the “Palestinian struggle against Israeli Apartheid”. They mentioned that last year Israel barred World Council of Churches leader, Isabel Phiri, a citizen of Malawi living in Switzerland, due to the support of the WCC for the BDS. The banned organisations include progressive Jewish organisation such as Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP).
The ANC insisted that it will not disown South Africa’s BDS movement. “We will continue with our practical solidarity to assist in pressuring Israel to end its human rights abuses, apartheid policies and violations of international law,” adding that the struggle of the people of Palestine is their struggle “just as how our struggle was once their struggle”.
The statement called for the “swift implementation of the immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA Embassy in Israel”. The ANC said it will engage with South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs, Comrade Ayanda Dlodlo, and request the minister revaluate South Africa’s visa policy with Israel “in a way which will adequately respond to this Israeli insult”. They also called on the BDS movement to meet with Dlodlo, who is described as “an active supporter of the Palestinian people and BDS movement” in order to formulate an appropriate response.
Indeed we must increase our solidarity with Palestine, as the Israeli government has again shown its bullish and thuggish nature. We have our dignity, our values and sovereignty to protect the ANC concluded.