Student leaders slam BDS intimidation

  • Mokgomole Klaas
In a real turn up for the books, 16 high-ranking members of young ANC-affiliated student, political & business bodies which went to Israel on a fact-finding tour hosted by SAIF and SAUJS last week, have issued a defiant statement against their own organisations & slam BDS. Even more interesting is the fact that the statement was issued by two members of the so-called “Wits-11” who were censured for forcing the cancellation of an Israeli-born pianists’ concert last year – and the head of the Wits Branch of SASCO (pictured)!
by ANT KATZ | Jul 17, 2015

The statement issued on Thursday 16 July came in the wake of some of the office-bearers of ANC-affiliated structures found themselves suspended. The SA arm of the US NGO Boycott, Divest, Sanction (Israel), BDS-SA, had offered the sixteen R40,000 each if they would cancel their trip. None did, and a war of intimidation began.

Mokgomole Klaas longThe sixteens’ statement was titled “SA Young Leaders Trip to Israel & Palestine” and was on behalf of the collective – and signed by Wits-11’s Justice Nkomo and Klaas Mokgomole, and the now-suspended Wits Sasco head Nthabiseng Molefe.

RIGHT: From Wits-11 to anti-BDS, Klaas Mokgomole

To allow Jewish Report users to draw their own conclusions, we publish the statement verbatim and without commentary. The statement speaks for itself:

A delegation of 16 young leaders travelled to Israel from the 4th to the 11th of July. All delegates travelled in their personal capacity even though the majority of them are affiliated to various Mass Democratic Movements. This was in no way a propaganda trip.

On a political front, BDS South Africa has threatened those affiliated to the Progressive Youth Alliance namely from SASCO, ANCYL and YCLSA and those in the ANC not to go on the trip. This was justified by resolutions which support the BDS movement. The ANC has never resolved to banning any member from traveling to Israel. The government continues to enjoy diplomatic ties, with Israel meaning that dialogue between two nations is important. If the ANC knows how to distinguish between the ANC as a political party and the government as a diplomatic tool why is it difficult for BDS to distinguish the different between South Africans travelling in their personal capacity compared to political representation? We remain resolute and we have proof that this trip was done in our personal capacity as South Africans and not in any way to undermine our political affiliations.

SAIf ANC4Even so, who is BDS to dictate the solidarity towards the Palestinian people? For the past three years young people who went on this trip have risked their degrees, their lives and most importantly their dignity and ability to think because of revolutionary blackmail and morality by the BDS. 

LEFT: Cosas' Wits branch chair, Nthabiseng Molefe (now suspended) who confirmed that BDS offered her R40,000 not to go on the trip

It is alleged that the trip was funded by Cape Gate which constructs the popularly known "Apartheid Walls" as BDS would argue. It is alleged that the ANC and PYA have standing resolutions on travel bans to Israel. The last allegation was that this trip was meant to brainwash and present a one sided view of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

We would like to put it on record that all these claims are factually incorrect and aimed at threatening South Africans who have the rights to move and associate with anyone whether domestically or internationally as long as those relations do not cause any harm to the republic. BDS can never be a spokesperson on behalf of the PYA and thus we find it very offensive that they think they can dictate to us what should be our role in the struggle of the poor; with such arrogance. In fact it must be stated that the BDS does not represent the Palestinian people as they share no interest or struggles with the people of Palestine. The word internationalism is being abused in our platforms, why is BDS not concerned with comrades traveling to Swaziland, Sudan and dealing with many other struggles internationally.

This statement seeks to clarify the allegations. Firstly, there is no standing resolution which bans South Africans from travelling to Israel, however we note that the struggle of the people of Palestine is the one we share and subsequently in need for peace between the two states without extreme measures that involves the killing of innocent lives.  All young people who traveled to Israel and Palestine did not represent any political party on the trip. We all travelled in our personal capacity in order to learn more about the reality of the situation and understand the positions of both countries.

The name of the African National Congress was cited in an online newspaper in Israel. This was corrected with immediate effect considering that it was not verified and the newspaper outlet never interviewed the young people and did not capture the full conversation we had with the South African Israel Federation. This matter was resolved, yet BDS activists, who by the way are on the payroll of BDS, continued to circulate the false article for political scores on Facebook.

Media outlets in South Africa also reported without contacting any of the delegates alleging that we were representing the ANC. We do not control media yet we have the obligation to rectify them when they misuse their influence and in all honesty, since when do we use Cape Argus as our main source of deliberation? It cannot be that when it is convenient we reference media without question but in some cases we critic, this shows the desperation the BDS wants to legitimize them within the MDM. It is a pure hypocrisy. Perhaps we should start now asking relevant question,

I mean who does BDS account to, it certainly is not the Palestinian because there is no BDS structure in Palestine. It is not all Muslims in South Africa because we only see them in wealthy Muslims communities. Why is this? Where does the money we collect as volunteers go to? Is BDS a liberation movement for the people of Palestine? Or it is just an NPO that seeks to bread and butter of individuals who saw an opportunity of swelling the ranks.

BDS believes all people can be brainwashed

This trip explored both Israel and Palestine. Historical backgrounds of both nations were presented with specific emphasis of finding out what civilians in various communities felt. We went out of the organized program for the authenticity of our trip, after all we are schooled from the MDM. One cannot help but wonder, why is it that our findings are not given space for engagement, but rather we are attacked before even speaking.

Shoot The Jew Desai - 350Let us be critical, is it because BDS concludes that all people can be brainwashed? Or is there something to hide? The trip was fully sponsored by South African Philanthropists as per our request with no conditions. All records are available to back up this fact. It was alleged that we received gifts or money on the side, this is incorrect and we challenge those with allegations to present proof.

RIGHT: BDS-SA head Muhammed Desai has led many campus campaigns resulting in anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic activity. BDS-SA also had students and staff at Rhodes spy on a Jewish staffer for them, an act that cost the university dearly in both their settlement with the staffer and the loss of Jewish donor funding
Is BDS also willing to disclose to all South Africans as where they get funding from? In a democratic country like South Africa, is it fair to threaten citizens as to where they should travel all in the name of brainwash?

This trip was a success and all delegates have different positions on this conflict as a result of our experiences with both people of Palestine and Israel and thus we are more determined that through our findings there might actually be light for a solution towards the ongoing war. We therefore condemn BDS in threatening us due to our individual affiliation to the PYA and the ANC. Political scoring and threats are a danger to our democratic principles especially by people who know nothing about the revolution of an African child. Propaganda is the story BDS continues to spread about people they differ with instead of engaging in a peace processes.

At no point does the ANC endorse the BDS movement in its current form. BDS is advocating for "Sea to Sea” resolution while the ANC is pushing for negotiated settlement through peaceful processes. The standing resolutions of the ANC seek to support peace processes and engagements between Palestine and Israel, with Israel compromising more of course as they are viewed to be at the wrong for the wall and settlements.

There is no ANC resolution which bans members from traveling to Israel. The ANC has deployed a diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv. The people of Palestine told us that they want to live in peace, and this can only be achieved through dialogue and then agreement. We maintain that occupation is wrong, the wall is wrong as perpetuated by the Israel government, however the missiles as architecture by Hamas are also not aiding peace in the conflict. We call for all leaders to think of the future of the Palestinian population and that of the Israel population, that live in constant fear. We call on all leaders to resolve this matter and avoid opportunist who benefit through conflict to triumph at the expense of the people. We call on negotiations towards peace in this conflict. We cannot ignore the conflict. Dialogue and honest engagement is what we need.

We therefore remain resolute and dismiss all those who do not want peace in the Palestinian and Israelite conflict. The tactics of threatening individuals and promising incentives for rejecting the trip goes to prove that BDS is not based on principles but it is based on solidarity which seeks to undermine peaceful processes between the two people.

Issued by SAYLT delegates 

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1 Comment

  1. 1 Michael Perloff 28 Jul
    Before arriving at any conclusion about the Arab-Israeli conflict, those young people should get to the heart of the matter by reading the foundation documents of the major parties. That would go a long way towards removing distractions and the influences of propaganda and political or social pressure to conform to the politically correct party line du jour. 

    The foundation documents of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), the Party of Allah (Hezbollah), the Victory Party (Fatah), etc. unambiguously call for Jihad and the slaughter of Jews, -  not just Israelis, but all Jews -  and the destruction of the Jewish state. Compare those official documents with the foundation document of Israel, its Declaration of Independence. It calls for peace, reconciliation, and cooperation with all the region's people for the common good. 

    Then research the leadership rolls and positions of influence throughout most sectors of Israeli society to find proof of the widespread participation of many prominent non-Jewish Israelis. Note too, the freedoms of speech and religion that are vigorously practiced by all Israelis regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity. To be fair, then conduct similar research into the societies of Israel's adversaries. 

    Finally, these brave young people will then have a basis for making an intelligent decision about which side in the Arab-Israel conflict possesses values, a sense of morality, and vision of the future that is compatible with theirs and the people of South Africa. 


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