The African National Congress (ANC) has clarified that it did not apologise to the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) during its recent meeting on the current devastating developments in Gaza.
Reacting to a statement issued by the SAJBD following the meeting, ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said the party had met with the Board to engage in a “robust, and frank dialogue”.
In its statement, the SAJBD said that during the meeting the ANC “acknowledged the hurt its stance had caused the Jewish community”.
The SAJBD, together with the SA Zionist Federation, met with the ANC recently. It said they agreed to the meeting in the spirit of good faith and its willingness to always engage. The purpose, it said, was to ask the ANC to reflect on the “hurtful” statements it made on the massacre of Israeli civilians carried out by Hamas on October 7.
“The SAJBD explained how let down our community had felt by their lack of any form of sympathy for the Israeli terror victims, mostly civilians, murdered by Hamas in the week following the massacre.
“It also shared the escalating levels of anti-Semitism in our country, which have increased nearly tenfold since the conflict began, and how this was being fuelled by inflammatory rhetoric by some in political leadership,” said SAJBD national chairperson, Professor Karen Milner.
However, the ANC said while the engagement with the SAJBD was aligned with the party’s approach of consulting broadly and advocating for a just, peaceful, and humane world, the ANC reiterated its full support for long lasting peace, and the liberation of the Palestinian people.
“I can categorically state that we did not apologise to the SAJBD. There is no way we can contradict ourselves and speak from two sides of our mouths. Our stance has always been known,” Bhengu-Motsiri said.
She said the ANC would continue with its other engagements intended to take place with various key role players including religious groups and civil society formations that continue to play a meaningful role in matters related to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.