An Orthodox Jew walks past the Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem. Picture: Natalie Behring/Reuters
Johannesburg - While the decision by the ANC to downgrade the South African embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, has been slammed by the Israeli embassy in Pretoria, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP) has challenged the orthodox Jewish narrative and response to the move and welcomed the downgrading.

"We, South African Jews, welcome the decision by the ANC to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African embassy in Israel," said SAJFP in a Thursday statement.

The resolution, adopted on Wednesday by the ANC at its 54th Conference, reads: "In order to give our practical expression of support to the oppressed people of Palestine; the ANC has unanimously resolved to direct the SA government to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office.”


"This move by the ANC actively applies pressure on Israel's government to end its violations of international law. As members of the Jewish community we believe that this is one of the most practical things that South Africa can do to contribute towards a just peace in Palestine-Israel," said SAJFP in its statement.

"We are part of a growing network of Jews across the globe who oppose the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands and seek justice for all people."

Earlier this year a group of Jewish Israelis wrote a letter to the ANC supporting the call for a downgrade of relations and support of the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) boycott of Israel. In their letter to the ANC, our Israeli friends explained that:

"After many years of trying to change our society from within, we have come to the conclusion that an international campaign, such as the boycott against apartheid South Africa, is necessary to change the situation here," wrote the Israelis.


"We believe that the time has come for further measures. Governments, including that of South Africa, should be downgrading diplomatic relations and their embassies in Israel, to send a clear message to Israel that its violations of international law are unacceptable. Furthermore, we call on the ANC to strengthen its support for the BDS movement and Palestinian struggle.”

Given the gross violations by Israel against the Palestinians people, it is clearly not justified to persist with a fruitless policy of meaningless engagement. A far tougher approach is needed, asserted SAJFP.

This is where the Palestinians themselves have led the way in asking the world to apply the same policy of Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel - a policy that we, as South Africans, adopted to hasten the end of Apartheid, added the SAJFP statement.

Significantly, Jewish activists in many countries (and in Israel itself) have committed themselves to this non-violent BDS movement.

"We South Africans, in our diversity, are united in our solidarity with the Palestinians, our opposition to Israeli Apartheid and our quest for justice."

African News Agency