The Israel an apartheid state was not in opposition to Jewish people, but to the policies of its governments, which were becoming ever more extreme, says the Anglican church.
This was among the reasons the Anglican Church of Southern Africa cited in its decision to declare Israel an apartheid state, saying as people of faith who long for security and a just peace for both Palestine and Israel, they can no longer ignore the realities on the ground. The resolution, which was taken during an annual meeting of the church’s Provincial Standing Committee, was endorsed by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the South African Council of Churches (SACC), the church said in a statement on Thursday.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said they were distressed by the pain of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and could no longer keep quiet.
“We are opposed not to the Jewish people, but to the policies of Israel’s governments, which are becoming ever more extreme. For Christians, the Holy Land is the place where Jesus was born, nurtured, crucified and raised. Our hearts ache for our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine, whose numbers include Anglicans but are rapidly declining.
“People of all faiths in South Africa have both a deep understanding of what it is to live under oppression, as well as experience of how to confront and overcome unjust rule by peaceful means.
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.
“If we are to celebrate peace for Palestinians and security for the Israelis in in our time, we need to pray and work for the land we call holy, for an end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and for full recognition of the Palestinians' inalienable right to self-determination. We yearn for peace and the wholeness of God to be made manifest in Palestine, in Israel and among their neighbouring countries,“ Makgoba said.
South African BDS Coalition co-ordinator Roshan Dadoo hailed the resolution by the Anglican Church, saying the church was standing on the right side of history.
“The Anglican’s resolution is particularly impressive for their commitment to people-to-people solidarity with Palestinians, ensuring that pilgrimages include meetings with Palestinian Christians and visits to Palestinian homes.
We salute the Anglican Church for not only calling out Israeli apartheid but also taking action.
“The church will be joining millions of people around the world in a global anti-apartheid movement and participating in the international anti-apartheid conference for Palestine to be held in South Africa in May next year,” Dadoo said.
South African Friends of Israel (Safi) spokesperson Bafana Modise, however, said the decision to declare Israel as an apartheid state portrays a false view of the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel.
“The Church did not engage with Safi regarding its decision. This is concerning as Safi is a well-established member of a number of church-based organisations across South Africa.
“In fact, Safi has received a number of appeals from members of the Anglican Church that remain outraged at the decision. This tells us that the views of the church leadership do not reflect those of its members, the majority of South Africans love the Holy Land of Israel and would rather play a productive role in ending the conflict, as opposed to recycling the views of anti-Semitic organisations like the BDS movement.
“We will be meeting with a number of churches in South Africa over the next few months to formally oppose this decision in numbers, to provide those of the Anglican Church and the Christian faith generally with a more educated view of why the conflict remains between the Palestinians and Israel today,” Modise said.
Last year Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, concluded that Israel’s political system of entrenched rule satisfied the prevailing evidentiary standard for the existence of apartheid.