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Op-eds

Israel boycott reveals its true face once again

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
The #Yallayebo Exhibition, described as “A Photographic Dialogue between South Africa and Israel”, had its official opening at FotoZA Gallery in the Rosebank Mall last Thursday. The event was attended by more than 100 art enthusiasts, dignitaries, community leaders, and members of the media.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Jun 07, 2018

Speakers included Israeli Ambassador Lior Keinan and Deputy Ambassador Ayellet Black, both of whom stressed the value of cultural spaces as platforms for dialogue and engagement, where people can experience a different side to both countries.

Outside the venue, a group of noisy, aggressive protestors screamed abuse at those arriving at the event. The Board’s National Director, Wendy Kahn, who helped to prevent the situation from getting out of hand, testifies to the fact that she and others were called “Nazis” and “child killers”, amongst other repellent epithets. Flags representing the radical Islamist grouping Hezbollah were also displayed.

While they were unable to disrupt the function itself, the threats, insults, and gross acts of intimidation on the part of the protestors inevitably left a sour after taste. Their behaviour clearly crossed the line between legitimate peaceful protest, which we have no problem with, and infringing the right to freedom of expression. It certainly typified the modus operandi of BDS organisations, not just in South Africa, but worldwide. We were reminded yet again of how anti-Israel fanatics are quite prepared to provoke ugly confrontations in pursuit of their goal of silencing dissent and shutting down debate.

Sound counsel from BRICS meeting

This week, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations of the five BRICS countries (namely, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) met in Pretoria to plan for the upcoming 10th BRICS Summit.

Participants exchanged views on issues of global significance in political, security, economic, financial and sustainable development spheres. Afterwards, a media statement was issued referring to, amongst other matters, “the ongoing conflict and heightened tensions in the Middle-East region”.

The Israeli-Palestinian situation was specifically mentioned, but reference was also made to the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan. Most importantly, rather than singling out any particular party for special condemnation, the statement reiterated the need for “renewed diplomatic efforts to achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, with a negotiated process between the parties taking place with a view to creating “an independent, viable, territorially contiguous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel”.

The support expressed by South Africa and its fellow BRICS members for the international community to involve itself in conflict resolution initiatives is to be welcomed. We hope that our government, despite pressure from anti-Israel hardliners to break ties with Israel, will keep its policy of maintaining diplomatic channels of communication with all parties and looking for ways in which South Africa can help to advance peace prospects in the region.

  • Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00 to 13:00.

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