The Mercury / 5 April 2018, 7:30pm / African News Agancy (ANA)
Durban - While the ANC called for a cultural boycott of Israel this week, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) hit back and labelled the party’s statement as “divisive” and inconsistent with how the country normally deals with foreign policy.
The furore comes after popular South African DJ Black Coffee, whose real name is Nkosinathi Maphumulo, performed in the Jewish state.
He received severe backlash for taking the gig and the ANC expressed its disappointment in him.
In a statement issued yesterday, Lindiwe Zulu, chairperson of the ANC’s International Relations Committee, said the party called on artists to have an appreciation of the role played by the international anti-apartheid solidarity movement in the successful international isolation of apartheid South Africa.
“The people of Palestine are in a just cause for self-determination and we urge our artists not to form part of the normalisation of Israel’s suppression of the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination and statehood that mirrors our very own struggle,” she said.
Zulu added that the South African artistic community had experienced discrimination and oppression and must therefore continue to pledge solidarity with others who are oppressed.
“We await an opportunity to engage Black Coffee and the creative sector at large, with a view to finding each other on this and other matters, as a way of creating common cause between all South Africans in rallying behind Palestine,” she added.
In response, the SAJBD said it “deplores the divisive” statement made by the ANC international relations subcommittee.
“Imposing a boycott against Israel over and above every other country in the world is itself immoral and inconsistent with how South Africa normally conducts its foreign policy. Prejudice rather than any genuine concern for human rights is what appears to be behind this decision,” the board said.
“Why, when it comes to this particular issue, is the ANC allowing its foreign policy to be hijacked by radicals who are quite happy to compromise South Africa’s objective interests for the sake of making empty, anti-Israel, propaganda gestures?”, the board asked.
The SAJBD said it “gives its full support to Black Coffee, Nkosinathi Maphumulo, who is one of our most talented artists and has worked incredibly hard to be where he is”.
The board said Black Coffee had every right under “our democratic dispensation” to travel wherever he liked.
“It is incredulous that the ANC as a governing party is associating itself with an anti-Semitic and anti-democratic group like BDS SA,” said the SAJBD.
“The SAJBD urges the ANC to move away from the politics of boycott and ‘rejectionism’ when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian question and instead pursue a policy of even-handed engagement with all sides to bring about a peaceful, negotiated two-state solution to the current conflict.”
The call for a cultural boycott also came simultaneously as the South African government strongly condemned the Israeli armed forces for killing 17 Palestinians and injuring hundreds of others in the last week as Gazans protested the continued Israel siege of the coastal enclave.
“South Africa reiterates its view that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) must withdraw and bring to an end the violent and destructive incursions into Palestinian territory,” said Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu. - African News Agency (ANA)