Johannesburg – The ANC has called for a cultural boycott of Israel after expressing disappointment in the recent visit to the Jewish state by DJ Nkosinathi Maphumulo, popularly known as Black Coffee.
“We call on all 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,” said Lindiwe Zulu, the Chairperson of the ANC’s International Relations Committee in a Wednesday press release.
“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 Israeli’s suppression of the Palestinian people in their quest for self determination and statehood that mirrors our very own struggle.
“The South African artistic community, having themselves experienced discrimination and oppression, must therefore continue to pledge solidarity with others who are oppressed,” added Zulu.
DJ Black Coffee performed at a sold-out show in Tel Aviv at the Easter Weekend. The artist claimed he was unaware of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
In a tweet, the DJ said he was in the region because he would do anything to feed his family. “Like everyone else I have rights and free will and, no, Black Coffee is not a political party. I work as an entertainer to feed my family. I will take a bullet for my family.”
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa criticised Black Coffee for feigning ignorance as the group said it had approached him in 2014 prior to his Tel Aviv show.
BDS SA spokesperson Kwara Kekana said: “Black Coffee is familiar with the issue of the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. In 2014, Palestine solidarity groups reached out to him before his performance in Tel-Aviv at that time, armed with sufficient information on the issue. He chose to cross the picket line just like he did this week."
Zulu said on Wednesday that the cultural aspect of the boycott was critical in advancing the cause to ensure that the apartheid of the Israeli government was isolated and called on South Africa’s creative sector to ensure that the country continued to play a critical role in helping to resolve the crisis of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
“In solidarity with the people of Palestine, we will continue highlighting shortcomings wherever they rear their head with regard to the role of South Africans in undermining the cause of the emancipation of the people of Palestine,” said Zulu.
“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.
The boycott call followed the ANC at its 54th National Conference last year reaffirming its “unwavering commitment to the struggle of the Palestinian people and expressed its disappointment at the State of Israel’s lack of commitment towards a peaceful resolution".
To this end, the conference resolved to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israeli to a liaison office.
The call for a cultural boycott also came simultaneously as the South African government strongly condemned the Israeli armed forces for the killing of 17 Palestinians, and the injuring of hundreds of others, over 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 Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu.
“The actions of the Israeli armed forces present yet another obstacle to a permanent resolution to the conflict, which must come in the form of two states, Palestine and Israel, existing side-by-side and in peace,” added Sisulu.
"South Africa aligns itself with those members of the United Nations calling for an independent inquiry into the killings, with a view to holding to account those who are responsible."