ANC lekgotla aims the big stick at SA Jews and some companies
SA JEWISH REPORT STAFF
“This is exactly what the Nazi regime did in Germany,” Zev Krengel, president of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), told the Jewish Report. “You say Jews are not loyal to their country; secondly you make the outrageous claim that Jews train in Israel and come back here. This is what happened in Nazi Germany when they said that Jews were a danger to Germany; and thirdly you name and shame anyone who does business with Israel. Bapela is taking Nazi propaganda and implementing it here.”
The SAJBD and the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) have requested a meeting with President Zuma and say they will update the community when they have more clarity.
The Sunday Times broke the story on the weekend and listed several companies that the ANC would act against including Cape Gate, accused of constructing “the Apartheid wall” in Gaza as well as retailer Woolworths, Caterpillar whose machinery the ANC claim are being used to demolish homes in the West Bank, among others.
In an impassioned public address delivered by video this week, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein noted how disturbing it was that the ANC are proposing changing citizenship laws for the whole country because they are obsessed with the State of Israel.
He also said that: “To be a Jew is to be deeply connected to Israel and to Jerusalem. That is very much a part of our identity. And we love South Africa and we are loyal and committed South Africans. But we also love Israel and when the ANC targets, with an obsession, the State of Israel more than any other country in the world – that is deeply insulting to a very important part of South African society.”
Obed Bapela, who has continued in other media to back up his claims and plans since Sunday’s story, has confirmed that the issue had already been discussed at the ANC’s July lekgotla and would come up again next month at its national general council.
The measures on citizenship could affect millions of South Africans who have dual citizenship. Legal experts note however that the ANC would have to change the Constitution.
According to well-known immigration lawyer Craig Smith, quoted in the Sunday Times, “There would be no way that our Constitution will allow government to impose such invasive measures that go to the core of international norms of citizenship law.” He called the proposal “retrogressive and ill-conceived”.
ANC policy can only be changed at their conference which is in 2017. But to dismiss the “Bapela proposal” as merely a discussion document is to ignore the possibility that some of the measures could become law at some point, say some political observers. With its huge majority of some 62 per cent in parliament, policy is generally made in Luthuli House and then submitted to the ANC parliamentarians as a fait accompli.
But Jewish leaders are not yet quaking in their boots about this outcome.
“In reality it’s a non-starter this,” says Krengel. “Anything can come up on the agenda at the ANC legotkla and this midterm conference. Actual legislation is many, many years away from even being close to being passed.”
Krengel says he is “much more concerned that this type of anti-Semitic conversation is actually happening and that’s why we fighting it so hard and that’s why it’s unacceptable. It’s got to do with a deputy minister singling the state of Israel and his hatred for Israel that he is taking out on the local community.”
The recruitment group, Homecoming Revolution, encouraging South African expats to return to the country of their birth, also expressed its alarm, saying that should the citizenship ban be enacted, it would have “disastrous consequences” for the economy.
CEO Angel Jones said it would force people with more than one passport to give up their South African citizenship because of a fear the country was regressing.
Many people with dual citizenship living in South Africa rely on pensions from their home countries.
Jones points out: “South Africa has more than 800 000 critical skills vacancies across all sectors and a dual citizenship ban would push this higher. We would lose even more critical skills and we would be making it harder for globally experienced South Africans to return home.”
How a proposal banning citizens from fighting in foreign armies – should it become law – could be enforced, is an open question, the experts say. Although South African “mercenaries” are prohibited from plying their trade outside the country’s borders, it is well known that former SA special forces personnel act as “advisers” to many African heads of state. There are also quite a number of South African citizens serving in the British armed forces.
Also, South African Jews who went to Israel’s aid in previous wars, filled positions such as truck drivers or kibbutz volunteers, to free up the “real soldiers” to do the actual fighting. Most of the South Africans never saw action.
In a joint statement, the SAJBD and South African Zionist Federation said: “Certainly, the proposed changes to our law and foreign policy, as outlined by Obed Bapela, are outrageous and unacceptable. It is of concern that policies so overtly targeted against Israel and discriminatory against our Jewish community are allegedly being considered by the ruling party at all.”