In an open letter to ANC MPs, African National Congress stalwart Ronnie Kasrils urges them not to be trapped into meeting Israeli MPs at a South African Jewish Board of Deputies conference to be held this weekend.
I first want to acknowledge and salute you for your strong and clear position and that of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus to reject the request that Parliament meet a delegation from the Israeli Knesset (parliament).
In your clear and bold statement you declared:
"The continuous killings of Palestinians by the Israeli Security Forces, administrative detentions, deportations and many other human rights violations also form part of the reasons why the ANC cannot allow itself to be co-opted into this charm offensive by Israel through this parliamentary visit."
I am writing to caution you of an advertised South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) conference this Sunday (20 August 2017) in Johannesburg which will likely be used to undermine your clear stance. It is within their right to invite whom ever they wish and in all likelihood many of you might have been invited to attend under the auspices of the Jewish community wanting to be addressed by you.
It is also apparent, however, that the visiting Israeli Knesset (Parliament) Members will be guests and thus likely address the event. If this is the case your presence will be exploited and utilised to undermine the stand you took in our parliament by proximity with those visitors.
Already they have sought photo opportunities with opposition MPs such as Mosiua Lekota; and been received by the Johannesburg Mayor. These reprehensible meetings undermine our country’s forthright stand against Israel’s criminal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, the inhuman Israeli siege of the Palestinian Gaza Strip, the consignment of Israel’s Palestinian inhabitants to second class status; and violation of Palestinian rights and usurpation of their land. Those who have been meeting with the delegation are actively choosing to shamelessly ignore the gross human rights violations and breach of international laws that Israel is committing.
Our people suffered under apartheid and today the Apartheid Government of Israel, which actively supported Apartheid South Africa, is attempting to gain our support in order to cover-up and condone their brutal abuse and repression of the Palestinian people. The SAJBD acts as a platform to provide Israel's government and parliament access to our people and government in direct and indirect ways. What they may be aiming for this weekend and at other such conference is drawing ANC MPs into their web in an indirect way. It is incumbent on all in the liberation movement, ministers as well as ordinary MPs, to be vigilant and not meet with them at all.
I join others in our country, including progressive Jews, in urging you not to be trapped into meeting the Israeli MPs this weekend thus legitimising their presence in South Africa.
I join those who are calling for a boycott of SAJBD activities until it ends its support of and lobbying on behalf of Apartheid Israel. The SAJBD is meant to represent the Jewish community of this country, not all of whom are Zionists or supporters of an ethnic Israeli state which brutally oppresses the indigenous Palestinian people. The SAJBD should confine itself to issues within the country in the interests of the Jewish community rather than acting as a devisive agent of a reprehensible foreign power.
Ronnie Kasrils (Former South African Government Minister)