Cape Town - The Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s (ACSA) Provincial Standing Committee has resolved to declare Israel an apartheid state.
The annual meeting presided over by Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, on Wednesday, saw a resolution on the matter passed without opposing votes.
The resolution endorsed a decision by the National Executive Committee of the SA Council of Churches to declare Israel an apartheid state.
In a statement, Makgoba said: “As people of faith who are distressed by the pain of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza – and who long for security and a just peace for both Palestine and Israel – we can no longer ignore the realities on the ground. We are opposed not to the Jewish people, but to the policies of Israel’s governments, which are becoming ever more extreme.”
Another resolution urged the church’s members to include meetings with Palestinian Christians on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, as it acknowledged that meetings or visits to Palestinian Christians were not often on pilgrimage programmes, and that the word Palestine was omitted or hardly used in marketing material or in preparation for the pilgrimage.
It added that the military occupation of Palestine and the similarities to apartheid South Africa was hardly discussed on these pilgrimages.
Makgoba said: “When black South Africans who have lived under apartheid visit Israel, the parallels to apartheid are impossible to ignore. If we stand by and keep quiet, we will be complicit in the continuing oppression of the Palestinians.”
The church said the Dutch Reformed Church Western Cape synod also expressed that Israel should be declared an apartheid state and had asked its church’s national synod to consider this at its synod next month.
SA Zionist Federation chairperson Rowan Polovin said: “It is appalling that the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has officially adopted an anti-Semitic resolution designed to isolate, demonise and delegitimise the world’s only Jewish State, Israel.
“The church has not adopted an official position on any other of the 193 countries in the world but, over the years, continues to vent and obsess only over Israel, a country smaller than the Kruger Park.”
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomed the resolution and said it hoped other churches and faith organisations would adopt a similar stand.
PSC spokesperson professor Usuf Chikte said: “The Israeli apartheid declaration follows on similar positions held by states, civil society organisations, unions, and human rights groups seeing the reality in Palestine for what it is, settler colonialism and apartheid, and are calling for action to dismantle it.”