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Is ACDP Israel’s only SA political ally?




In a highly emotive opinion piece published in Business Day on Monday, Gareth van Onselen poses the question: “Has the DA abandoned its position on Israel?”

“The Democratic Alliance (DA) has always maintained a balanced position on the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestine conflict. It advocates a two-state solution that recognises the right of Palestinians to self-determination and for Israel to exist within secure and agreed borders — as close to the 1967 “Green Line” as possible,” writes Van Onselen.

“It argues that while it is necessary that the Israeli government stands firm against right-wing extremism, it fulfils its plan to disengage from Gaza and certain settlements in the West Bank,” he writes. “In turn, that it is equally necessary that the Palestinian government stop allowing terror to continue and that it ends anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian media.”

The DA, continues Van Onselen, “has set out its policy in a position paper and, in the past, in numerous speeches and statements on the subject.” But now, he says, the DA wholly attributes any and all culpability for the conflict to Israel whose conduct it completely condemns. “That is a position it has now declared and it will support the Africa National Congress (ANC) government in pursuing it.”

Brouhaha over “Cape Town Declaration”

The SAJR reported last week on the anti-Israel “Cape Town Declaration” which approved by the DA. It was expected to be discussed and ratified by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations this Wednesday.

But Cheryllyn Dudley MP, ACDP, who is the only is the member of the Portfolio Committee who voted against the Declaration and has been promised a chance to present to the Committee when the matter arises, told the SAJR on Tuesday that she had been advised that “the report is not ready for us to discuss,” and that “the meeting to discuss the Cape Town Declaration is postponed till next week Wednesday 26 February.

A leaked version of the 15-point Declaration included:

  • SA must expeditiously deal with S-Africans serving in the Israeli Defence Force;
  • SA must stop all financial transactions with Israeli settlement companies and banks and companies involved in the Israeli settlements.
  • Entrance into SA for Palestinians must be made easier.
  • Conference supports the freedom of Marwan Barghouti and all Political prisoners.
  • Conference supports BDS.
  • Complete military, financial and political sanctions must be applied against Israel.
  • All SA political parties must clearly communicate their stance on the plight of the Palestinian people and make it timeously known in the build-up to 2014 elections.
  • The SA gov’t must campaign for Israel to be suspended from the SWIFT banking network.
  • SA must table the Declaration at the AU, UN and IPU.

So, what does the DA have to say? 

Long-serving DA Joburg City Councillor Darren Bergman, earmarked for a seat in Parliament after the election, today told Jewish Report that the DA had not changed its long-standing policy on the Middle East. “Our policy is very clear and always been,” he said, the DA supported “a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.”

Helen Zille has confirmed that the policy remains in place, he says, but Bergman is unsure how the DA will deal with the matter when it comes before the Portfolio Committee next week. “We are going to woo our voters through delivery – and not become entangled, or allow our voters to be used, in a political battle to steal back the Western Cape,” said Bergman.

“The DA focusses locally – on service delivery – and not internationally,” Darren told SAJR.

Myburgh - Viv longVivienne Myburgh, pictured right, is a Christian Zionist, attended the Conference and posed some very relevant questions from the public gallery during a short window that was opened to the floor.

Vivienne is passionately anti-BDS and raised issues such as: Lebanon, where the law legally bans Palestinians from owning property and working in most professions; Jordan, which she says is composed of 88 percent of Palestinians refugees who do not enjoy the rights of citizens; and Kuwait, which expelled a quarter of a million Palestinians and Yasser Arafat acknowledged that “what Kuwait did to us in 2005 is worse than what has been done by Israel.”

Gareth van Onselen continued to postulate that the DA had changed in his Business Day article on Monday.

“The party now wholly attributes any and all culpability for the conflict to Israel whose conduct it completely condemns. That is a position it has now declared and it will support the Africa National Congress (ANC) government in pursuing it,” he writes. “Either that or this represents yet another communications foul up, as its representative again failed to understand DA policy or articulate it properly in key moments that require conviction, not ambivalence.”


The portfolio committee on international relations hosted The Parliamentary Solidarity Conference in support of the peoples of Palestine, Western Sahara and Cuba in the Good Hope Chamber in Parliament, Cape Town on February 6. But many pundits like van Onselen have speculated that there was an ulterior political motive behind what portfolio chairman Tisetso Magama described as “the first of its kind in Parliament.”

Writes Van Onsellen: “The official purpose of the conference was spelt out in Orwellian cuttlefish ink by the committee as follows: ‘It is a culmination of extensive work carried out by the committee in response to the call by President (Jacob) Zuma in his successive state of the nation addresses since 2010, with a message that solidarity is and should feature as a strong element of South Africa’s internationalism’.”

Van Onsellen is scathing and writes that the “unofficial purpose was to further entrench the ANC’s and the government’s rabid anti-Israel stance, confirm that Israel is an ‘apartheid state’ and show uncritical ‘solidarity’ with Palestine while condemning Israel.”

How things unfolded

On her blog, Marthie Momberg, who describes herself as an “advocate for justice and peace in South Africa and in Palestine and Israel”, sets out how events unfolded.

“Different political parties attended the proceedings and the ACDP was the only party to distance itself from the declaration,” she wrote. “They voted against it, and so did three members of the public.”

The DA played its part by endorsing the key sentiments without registering so much as a whisper of opposition. When the group is asked if anyone has any reservations against the draft declaration, says Van Onsellen, the DA kept silent.


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  1. Darren Bergman

    Feb 20, 2014 at 5:27 am

    I owe a lot of people a response from the conference that took place last week in Cape-Town. I hope you don’t mind me rather putting it on my status and tagging those of you on fb instead. 
    \n1. The DA policy on the Middle East stays the same. We believe in the promotion of peace in the Middle East which in our policy is a two-state solution that makes Jerusalem a joint Capital. 
    \n2. In order for one to ever comment on the Middle East it is always advisable that they inform themselves with fact and refer to as many sources as possible from all sides before taking a stance. 
    \n3. The DA believes that its main mission at this point in time is to be part of a solution that makes South-Africa a safe, affordable, developing and enabling place to stay. Our focus is on redress, reconciliation, delivery and embracing cultural diversity. 
    \nThis is our local stance and there is no reason why this would not inform our policies on an international basis too. 
    \n4. Next Wednesday the resolutions will be put before the Parliamentary committee and I can assure you there will be more than one party speaking for a balanced and unbiased approach to the complexities that is the Middle East. 
    \n5. I worry when a political party running a Country in South-Africa makes the politics in the Middle East their priority when their own house has more unnatural deaths on an annual basis. I further get concerned when people attack the DA for their stance when their Government is driving the agenda. Energies should be spent on trying to find truth, justice and resolve nationally and internationally. It must also be asked – why is the ANC in the Western Cape trying hard to drive this agenda and why do they want it resolved before elections? Is a certain party trying to stoke fires by making their constituents the pawns?

  2. David Hersch - SAIPAC

    Feb 20, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    ‘1. Not a word from Bregman about why Bill Eloff, MP, voted with the ANC. What has the DA done about this? What happens when Helen Zille is

    no more the leader of the DA?

    2. “Our policy is very clear and always been,” he said, the DA supported “a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.” – If the DA

    supports a policy with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, I will not be voting for them.

    3. Lots of the usual verbiage and side-stepping. Don’t be fooled by it.

    4. As realpolitik dictates that I cannot allow the ANC to take over the Cape or Cape Town, I will vote locally for the DA who run this city and province well. However, on a national basis, I will support the ACDP and encourage all to do the same. We must support our friends and those that support us and Israel. The

    ACDP are our only reliable and consistent friends and allies in the South African parliament and need to be strengthened as much as possible.

    5. I am saddened by the mindlessness of the DA in allowing this matter and their inability to respond immediately as we should all be fighting the ANC and

    its policies, national and international, which are destroying this beautiful country. If you want to see where the country is headed, lock your car doors

    and drive into Johannesburg CBD, Hillbrow, Berea and Yeoville. Take a drive into the country dorps and see the same happening to them as they deteriorate and begin to fall apart. Look at the huge unemployment and poverty in this country and wonder at the ANC corruption, tenderpreneurs, Nkandla, new and

    sudden millionaires and billionaires and then consider what it all about that the ANC spends so much time \”worrying\” about Israel when they should be concentrating on their own people’s welfare first and foremost. Consider how many are on the take from Arab/Muslim countries and how cheap it is to buy

    South Africa’s foreign policy.

    6. I suggest Bregman rethink his position. Party hacks are an anathema to me.



    Cape Town


  3. CT Cugel

    Feb 21, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    ‘I may get shot for saying this aT sHUL thsi week, but maybe we as a community SHOULD be looking at voting for the ACDP – and making a financial contribution to them as well.’

  4. Linda

    Feb 24, 2014 at 9:59 am

    ‘The Jewish community must support ACDP or their voice in Parliament may be lost! ‘

  5. Palesa

    Feb 24, 2014 at 10:19 am

    ‘David Hersch, ACDP needs support both nationally and provincially. ACDP is standing up for Israel both nationally and provincially!

    CT Cugel is right – the community must support this party which is standing up for us!’

  6. Karen Bayley

    Feb 26, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    ‘The ACDP certainly could do with a lot of financial support very quickly> There is a lot of work to do to get visibility and grow the party support in a short space of time. Travel and accommodation, printing and stationery, T-shirts, posters and banners, the list goes on. The people want to see this show to believe that there is substance to the party (even if their real substance is the hard work they do in parliament and local government)

    I am not active in the party but have followed them since their start and have always been impressed by their hard work and integrity and high moral ground. I will certainly be giving them financial support and my vote this election, but really hope that they can enjoy much more financial support in time to make a big impact.’

  7. Lawrence

    Feb 26, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    ‘VIVA ACDP! DA have lost the plot.  ‘

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