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Who’s calling Mid-East policy shots

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Ant Katz

Sixteen of the ANC’s most senior young academics and business leaders from around SA visited Israel and Palestine in their personal capacities on an educational tour this month which has resulted in so much consternation that it again begs the question: Who sets SA’s political policy towards the Middle East?

So much panic did this cause in the anti-Israel ranks when they found out about the trip shortly before their departure, that a US-based NGO reportedly offered an inducement of R640,000 to get these future SA leaders not to go. None accepted – and now they face the wrath of ANC-aligned structures.


Needless to say, BDS yesterday denied they had made this offer – and then proceeded to blame the misunderstanding on the Zionists. But make it they did, say the sixteen rebels


Several high-ranking branch executives and chairs have been suspended pending hearings. But the gutsy youngsters refuse to apologise and are now demanding to know what their organisations are trying to hide from them.

15-bds ant toon remakeThe sixteen travelled in their personal capacities as guests of a programme entirely funded by SA Jews.

The apparent disconnect over SA/Israel policy between Gwede Mantashe’s ideologists at ANC headquarters, Luthuli House and Jacob Zuma’s ANC-led Government’s pragmatic approach has had every reason to widen over the past five years.

Yet, clearly, any discomfort between the two centres of power has been well-managed. The meteoric growth of trade and tourism with Israel, largely in SA’s favour, is clearly indicative of this.

While the ideologues have pacified groups like BDS-SA, the local arm of the US-based NGO Boycott, Divest and Sanction (Israel) campaign, by assuring them that the ANC and SA will adopt their anti-Israel policies as their own, the governing pragmatists haven’t bothered one iota with it.

This begs the question whether these internal differences are well-disciplined and managed, or whether they don’t exist and are merely stage-managed to placate as many voters as possible.

In reality, any change between SA and Mid-East ties since Zuma’s ascension have been positive. Both sides have upgraded the staffing at their embassies, business is booming and Israel is actively providing services in all of SA’s nine provinces.

In short, South Africa does not subscribe to BDS ideology. It does from Luthuli House – but is this by design to placate Muslim voters and donors?

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has made it quite clear to government on more than one visit to SA that the PA does not support BDS policies.

Furthermore, when Israel recently denied minister Blade Nzimande a visa to pass through Israel to visit Palestine, Mantashe was vocally furious while the Government stayed mum.

 

Luthuli House on latest developments

Pundits have long questioned whether the ANC Mid-East disconnect is a strategy to placate all sides, or a genuine case of schizophrenic policy-making? Israel’s government and SA organisational Jewry have wondered for five long years just what SA’s Mid-East policy actually is.

The hasty political reaction that has erupted over the sixteen future leaders’ trip to Israel has ripped open the veil of secrecy that had hidden these unanswered questions.

With no time to correlate responses, wild and uninformed official statements abounded from ANC-affiliated youth groups and branches. “Young people who went on this trip have risked their degrees, their lives and most importantly their dignity and ability to think,” said the sixteen in a widely-circulated media statement last week. But they have little doubt where the blame lies for the systemic confusion: with BDS. “Who is BDS to dictate,” ask the ostracised sixteen.

Luthuli House is understandably shaken by the latest developments. Whatever boat they are on, has been shaken. Having worked so hard to ensure affiliated structures do what that they must to attract the many Muslim and first-time voters as the 2016 local government elections draw close.

The awakening discussion among young ANC supporters over the Middle East would seem to have had its roots in a blowback reaction to BDS activities on campuses, for the most part UCT, Wits and Rhodes – where BDS-led intimidation has created such a toxic environment for them that many Jewish students elect to leave the question of their religion blank on enrolment documentation and funding from Jewish alumni has all-but dried up.

 

They hear one thing & see another

The born-frees on campuses, it would seem, have found it intolerable that they are expected to adopt BDS policy without question.

They see their government interacting freely with Israel while student leaders are asking them to join BDS marches against the country.

They see President Zuma sending his personal, high-ranking Middle East envoys, Aziz Pahad & Zola Skhweyiya back and forth to meet the Israeli minister of foreign affairs, and, most recently, the country’s director-general for foreign affairs – but they are told by BDS that the ANC has imposed a travel ban on its officials travelling to Israel.

Tired of BDS’ antics, like asking them to assist in thuggery on and off campuses, expected to join chanting of “Shoot the Jew” and consumer boycotts that make no sense, expected to spy for BDS of Jewish staff and students, and even seeing public funds for students being, possibly illegally, diverted to fund BDS activities, student leaders have simply become gatvol.

BDS, say the sixteen, is “a danger to our democratic principles.” They know nothing about the revolution of an African child, they say. “Propaganda is the story BDS continues to spread about people they differ with, instead of engaging in a peace processes.”

Young leaders blame BDS and not ANC

As the crème de la crème of intellectual young South Africans, Their aim was to get real information which was being denied to them in SA.

The brave band of young activists who dared to confound conventional wisdom and go to see for themselves what Israeli and Palestinian life is like on the ground, could by no measure be accused of tokenism. At least seven are currently active in senior positions in the executives of the ANC and affiliated structures; four are primarily student activists; while four others are primarily business transformers.

In a widely-distributed media statement last week, the sixteen students claimed that “BDS-SA has threatened those affiliated (to) Sasco, ANCYL and YCLSA, and those in the ANC, not to go on the trip,” they said. BDS had tried to justify this “by resolutions which support the BDS movement,” they added.

“The ANC has never resolved to ban any member from traveling to Israel. The government continues to enjoy diplomatic ties with Israel meaning that dialogue between two nations is important,” added the sixteen emphatically.

When Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas came for an official visit recently, he spent more time with the SA Jewish leadership than with so-called “Palestinian solidarity” groups. He repeated his call made when he attended Madiba’s funeral that the PA does not agree with BDS policies.

“Who do BDS account to,” they ask, “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.”

 

Fundamental shift as BDS refuse to engage

In their media statement, the sixteen rebels challenge BDS to a debate. “Is BDS also willing to disclose to all South Africans as where they get funding from?” they ask. “In a democratic country like SA, is it fair to threaten citizens as to where they should travel all in the name of brainwashing?

“We therefore remain resolute and dismiss all those who do not want peace in the Palestine/Israel 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,” says the statement by the sixteen who, despite censure from their organisations, are sticking to their guns.

BDS has all-but refused to comment on the matter, despite the enormity of the accusations being thrown at them. Neither has the government, with the exception of deputy minister in the Presidency Obed Bopela, who promised the youngsters would be disciplined.

And even he, after a few days, changed his attribution from his government to his ANC position.

SA Zionist Federation chair Ben Swartz said it was indicative of good governance and democracy when a strong majority party such as the ANC can take one view as a party, and another as a government.

The sixteen students also raised this in their statement, saying that the ANC “knows how to distinguish between the ANC as a political party and the government as a diplomatic tool,” they said. Why, then, they ask angrily, “is it difficult for BDS to distinguish the difference between South Africans travelling in their personal capacity compared to political representation?”

Still, the sixteen believe they have to justify themselves. “We remain resolute, they say, “and we have proof that this trip was (undertaken) in our personal capacities as South Africans and not in any way to undermine our political affiliations.”

And they lay the blame at a single door: The “revolutionary blackmail and (im)morality” of BDS.  The sixteen have publically challenged BDS to a debate.

15-BDS 'toon. FULLjpg
BDS is being called out about it’s half-truths  

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Corwin

    Oct 5, 2015 at 8:34 am

    ‘Steady and amazing which we oblige you so i think as much it is by and large gainful and orchestrated. I may need to thank you for the ponderings. I am tiring the same best work from me later on besides.

  2. GeraldLevin

    Dec 29, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    ‘Egy[t needs to administer the Gaza strip for internal security reasons. The African Union support for this proposal will be stronger if South Africa supports Egyptian security above the formation of a potential ISIS \”Bantustan\” in the Gaza trip.  ‘

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Ant Katz

Israel not target of Obama’s UN ire, Trump is!

Why is Bibi acting so mad about the US not using its veto?

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Au Contrère: A blog by ANT KATZ


Do Bibi Netanyahu and his government get that the US allowing the UN anti-Israel Resolution to pass this week was not targeted at the Jewish state?

 

Because this fact is quite transparent and Israel’s PM is certainly no fool. So what is Netanyahu playing at?

Of course he is angry about the UN Resolution. So are all people who love Israel. The Obama administration may well have drafted and promoted the Resolution on Israel. But not because Obama, America or the present administration are anti-Israel.

There is only one logical purpose in what is being viewed as a sea of anti-Israel madness in the White House and State Department… and that is that they fear Donald Trump and his incoming Administration and State Department may tip the very, very delicate scale of seemingly pragmatic even-handedness that exists between the US and the Arab world.

In a blog I posted last week, US unlikely to open Embassy in Jerusalem, I wrote why I did not think the US’s Embassy would move to Jerusalem – as much, I added, that I would sincerely like to see the move. 

This issue has been on the table since it was unequivocally decided by US lawmakers in 1995 to shift the embassy and acknowledge Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. Congress sent to then-President Bill Clinton to action the move. Neither Clinton, nor the successive eight-year-long governments of George Bush (the Younger – and stupider); nor that of Barak Obama, had made any moves in that direction.

Trump and his team are taking no advice on this issue from State or the White House. So scared is the Obama administration of Trump’s rhetoric (the dangers it could impose on the ground), that it has seen fit to send him a stern warning of just how seriously they believe he could be blundering into this eons-old balancing act without understanding the consequences.

Trump, therefore, was the target of the US administration’s actions.

Israel was simply the instrument they chose to get the message across to him.

Why does Obama want Trump to slow down and assess the motivations of Presidents going back over 20 years? Here are some of the reasons that have been mooted by Obama’s predecessors:

  1. It would send out a message that could jeopardise the security of both the US and Israel. And, what’s more, it would kibosh any future role that America could play as an ‘honest broker’ in any mid-East peace talks as it will have already taken what is probably the world’s hottest political potato (the future of Jerusalem) and placed it squarely on the table as a fait accompli – a done deal – leaving scant space for a ‘no pre-condition’ meeting;
  2. It is essential that the US ensure it remains on very good terms with Saudi-aligned states in the neighbourhood – and especially so with Israel’s friendly neighbours Egypt and Jordan. The beat of the Trump drum could see these countries having to leave America/Israel’s sphere of influence under renewed pressure from fellow-Muslim states and become client-states of Russia which is working hard on becoming a bigger role-player in the region, (or even China, Iran, North Korea…);
  3. Israel gets the most advanced American armaments, while Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States get second-tier weapon systems. This may change if any US President risks being accused of bias in this regard and result in Israel not getting them, or a business-friendly Trump selling the best to everyone;
  4. Worldwide anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitism would gain another stick to beat Israel with, just as they did after the rocket-firing provocation that led to the outbreak of the 2013 Gaza incursion. That event was so masterfully exploited globally by BDS-acolytes that I have little doubt Hamas knew its provocation would lead to hundreds of Arab deaths. The sick interpretation of Islam by militants denies any value to life lost (actually, it rewards it) in its propaganda war against Israel and the West;

 

These and similar reasons, quoted by successive Presidents to explain the dangers of implementing Congress’s 1995 decision to relocate the Embassy, are what has forced the current administration to do something it would otherwise have been loath to do.

By not exercising its veto on the settlements issue, the incumbent administration was firing a shot across Trump’s bough – albeit using Israel as their weapon.

There can be no doubt that Obama & Co. realised fully the potential risk of negative implications that Israel and the world would face as a result of the Resolution being passed.

That they did it anyway, is indicative of the enormity of the risk they feel of allowing Trump, with all good intent but bad understanding of the situation, to continue down the path of over-placating Israel while creating a more dangerous future.

As I wrote last week, I would love to see all Embassies move to Jerusalem. Heck, I would also like to see the annexation (Golanisation) of the West Bank everyone is suddenly talking about.

But does the short-term gain of such moves create a greater long-term risk to Israel? If so, I urge Israelis and Zionists, to think whether it is the actions of Obama’s outgoing administration sending a message to Trump, or the latter’s reckless and uninformed statements, that is placing them at more risk.

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Ant Katz

US unlikely to open Embassy in Jerusalem

Ant Katz writes that he sees little likelihood of an Embassy move, even though he would like to see it

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The US Congress mandated the moving of its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem many years ago, but the nation’s security services have warned that such a move could endanger US facilities and personnel in the wider region. Here’s why even Trump will likely backtrack…

Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to move the embassy and last week, the Trump Transition Team made the announcement on their website: US Ambassador to ‘work from Jerusalem’ which both Trump and his ambassador-to-be David Friedman consider the country’s capital.

Despite much speculation to the contrary, Trump’s team now seem to be back-tracking and all that exists in the public domain is that Ambassador Friedman will “work from” Jerusalem. Many pundits see this as an intention to relocate the embassy – but (as much as I would like to see such an action take place) – I think the risks will outweigh the benefits and the associated risk may be more than it is worth.

Yesterday the Palestinian Authority added its voice, with Mahmoud Abbas threatening certain sanctions on Israel if the move goes ahead… really!

I somehow think pragmatism will prevail and the term “work from Jerusalem…” will become the real state of play.


THE HISTORY

The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 is a public law of the US passed by the 104th Congress in 1995 under the Presidency of Bill Clinton.

It was passed for the purposes of initiating and funding the relocation of the Embassy of the US in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no later than 1999, and attempted to withhold 50 percent of the funds appropriated to the State Department specifically for “Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad” as allocated in fiscal year 1999 until the new US Embassy in Jerusalem had officially opened.

The act also called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city and for it to be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel. Israel’s declared capital is Jerusalem, but this is not internationally recognised, pending final status talks on the world’s most complicated political situation.

Successive Presidential administrations have, however, withheld recognition of the city as Israel’s capital – despite the Law having been adopted by the Senate (93–5), and the House (374–37). Since passage, therefore, the law has never been implemented. Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have viewed it as a Congressional infringement on the executive branch’s constitutional authority over foreign policy and have consistently claimed the presidential waiver on national security interests.

So, President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign trail claims of wanting to “move the Embassy to Jerusalem” has become David Friedman’s statement of hoping he will work from the city.

Although Trump’s transition team continues to affirm the intention to move the embassy, it is a toothless statement as they offer no timeline. And, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, in a forceful speech at Tuesday night’s Chanukah party at the Washington embassy, encouraged Trump to make good on the pledge (even saying it was long past due) – the likelihood is that when Friedman takes office it will be a case of his “working” from Jerusalem – without moving the Embassy. In any case, it would take years to acquire a site in overpacked Jerusalem and design and build a new Embassy.

Dermer enumerated some of the positives for the move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which were subsequently outlined in a Wall Street Journal editorial yesterday.

There is already US Consulate in Jerusalem, likely where Friedman will work from.

JTA’s Ron Kampeas broke it down further today, writing:

 

Here’s what the “for” argument looks like:

  • The Jewish connection to Jerusalem is ancient.
  • No other country is denied representation in its capital.
  • Done correctly (i.e., with lots of pre-move assuaging of nerves in Arab and Muslim lands allied with the West, and with a site in western Jerusalem), it should go smoothly, especially because relations between Israel and its Arab neighbours are closer than ever due to shared interests in crushing the Islamic State and stopping Iran.

Here’s a summary of the “against” case:

  • The Palestinians have a claim to the city and moving the embassy before a final-status agreement pre-empts their claim.
  • The city is a tinderbox and any disturbance of its status quo will lead to violence.
  • Israel’s allies in the Arab and Muslim world (both unofficial and official) may reluctantly go along, but its enemies – particularly Iran, which annually commemorates the “loss” of Jerusalem, and the Islamic State — will seize the opportunity and stoke violence.
  • And those Arab allies? Even the dictators have to answer to their constituencies, who would likely be violently against. This could endanger whatever nascent comprehensive peace is in the works.

 

Other writers such as Eli Lake at Bloomberg gets at some of the ‘against’ arguments, particularly regarding tentatively improving relations between Israel and its Arab neighbours.

But, beyond the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ there is also the UNPREDICTABLE. That, readers, is what concerns me – in the eventuality of their transpiring…


Back to a paraphrasing of Ron Kampeas’ assessment on some things we can’t know about the move until it actually happens:

GOING NATIVE:

In the early 1980s, then-PM Menachem Begin used incentives to get journalists to move from Tel Aviv to the press centre in Jerusalem, Beit Agron, because he wanted them to recognise the city as Israel’s capital.

Plenty of news agencies did, with an unexpected result: Whereas the journalists occasionally visited with Palestinians while based in Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem they got to know Palestinian leaders well and media understanding of the Palestinian story deepened — not necessarily to Israel’s benefit, says Kampeas.

The Americans maintain a consulate in eastern Jerusalem. Some Israeli officials and pro-Israel groups complain that its staff has ‘gone native,’ – and reflects the opinions of the Arab population. The Tel Aviv staff, by contrast, is ensconced in the most western corner of Israel and has a positive outlook on Israel. “What happens to that attitude once they move 40 miles up the hill to Jerusalem?” asks Kampeas.

 

WHO DROPS BY? AND WHAT ABOUT THE CONSULATE?

Israel frowns on diplomats taking meetings with Palestinian officials in Jerusalem as it signals recognition of Palestinian claims to the city. “Does that policy stick if the embassy moves there?” is another question on Ron Kampeas’ lips.

Would Palestinian officials even agree to enter as they would no doubt not recognise it?

What happens to the consulate in eastern Jerusalem that deals with Arab issues? Its continued presence would undercut Israeli claims to the entire city. Does Israel’s government agitate for its removal? And, if Palestinian representatives do meet their US contacts, where is that done?

 

JERUSALEM IS PROTEST-CENTRAL

 

Jerusalem residents with grievances such as the charedim, Arabs, nearby settlers and their supporters — hold their demonstrations in Jerusalem. A US embassy would be a fat, juicy place for them to hold such protests.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IF…

 

“Try building anything new in Jerusalem and you’re bound to hit some pottery shards, possibly even bones,” Kampeas points out. If it is a significant find, a construction site could attract a stop order from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

 

 

THE RESIDENCE AND THE SCHOOLS

 

The US ambassador has a spacious home in Herzliya, a place amenable to festivities and bashes – and near some of the best schools in the country. Space is hard to come by in Jerusalem. Especially if Americans decide (to assuage Arab anger) to build both embassy and a residence in the city’s west.

“And the schools! For ambassadors with school-age kids, what a hornet’s nest,” says JTA. That sounds right- any choice could offend someone. Going ‘international’ risks accusations of exposing the kids to anti-Israel views. Going for Israel’s schooling system and take your pick of whom to offend — the religious, the Charedim, the national religious groups, etc.

 

There are so many other unpredictables – this is, of course, the world’s most politically contentious city. A city where anything can happen. They call it: The Jerusalem Syndrome.

“One more thing,” Kampeas points out, “the city is susceptible to earthquakes. Considering everything else, that’s almost an afterthought,” he chirps.

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Ant Katz

Jeenah: Under BDS, Palestine solidarity irrelevant

The BDS strategy is problematic and unprincipled says Jeenah. Read why…

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Minhaj Jeenah is chairman of the Muslim Youth
Movement’s Western Cape region, which is in turn a member of the National Coalition for
Palestine – which he admits is a BDS-SA-inspired coalition and which he believes is failing in its work.

 

While not as quick to specifically name BDS-SA as the
culprit in his piece “Why the Palestine solidarity movement in
South Africa has to evolve – or become irrelevant”
as was Prof Steven Friedman, Jeenah makes no bones about who he holds accountable for the shambles
that the SA anti-Israel lobby finds itself in.

To be clear, Jeenah is no friend of Israel, he is simply
saying that the anti-Israel lobbyists in SA are doing a hopeless job, losing
ground and risk becoming irrelevant. Click here to read this piece in its
original form
TheDailyVox.co.za or see below.

Little wonder after Prof  FRIEDMAN:
BDS-SA INCOMPETENCE PROMOTING ZIONISM
and this piece from Jeenah, that BDS-SA’s
response today which can be read here:
VERBATIM
FROM THE HOUSE OF HORRORS
was so vitriolic.

While BDS’ profanities and theologies were certainly not
called for, they are most telling of where the organisation, which has received
several black eyes during this week’s Israel Apartheid Week event, finds
itself.

I am publishing Minhaj Jeenah’s critique verbatim. 



Why the Palestine solidarity movement in South Africa has to
evolve – or become irrelevant

A Palestinian flag flies at a pro-Palestinian rally in Gauteng. Photo by Ihsaan Haffejee  

A Palestinian flag flies at a pro-Palestinian rally in Gauteng. Photo by Ihsaan Haffejee

Why the Palestine solidarity movement in South Africa has to evolve – or become irrelevant

The Palestinian struggle has captured the imagination of black South Africans since the 1970s, but of late the movement has been gripped by a dangerous form of populism. It’s time for the movement to undertake a critical shift in approach towards one that is principled and immersed in the programmes of the decolonisation movement in South Africa, argues MINHAJ JEENAH.


Disclaimer

Let’s be clear, the militarised occupation of Palestine by Zionists is one of the starkest and most vicious manifestations of the violence of colonial white power that perpetuates racism, sexism and violent capitalism. The ideological basis of Zionism is to create a community of separateness at the incremental extermination of an indigenous population.

The Palestinian struggle for self-determination is a righteous struggle which is necessarily linked to the Black condition. Its resistance in all its forms, violent or otherwise, is a legitimate resistance.

Let’s be clear to set the terms of our engagement through this post: I’m not interested in compromising on or discussing these actualities.


Background

The Palestinian struggle has captured the imagination of black South Africans since the 1970s – particularly resonant was the Palestinian armed resistance against Zionist colonialism. While exiled South African liberation movements had various forms of contact with the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Palestinian solidarity within South Africa remained very much a Muslim issue until the mid-80s when the Israeli-apartheid analysis started taking shape, promoted by some within the Black Consciousness Movement and smaller left groups.

Post-1994 saw certain significant changes to Palestine solidarity work, most notably during the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000 when it was addressed more strongly as an issue of national liberation, and South African civil society was lobbied.

After the call from Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel in 2005 and the launch of Israeli Apartheid Week, campus-based Palestine solidarity activism was strengthened and focused. Since then, the global BDS campaign helped define and intensify Palestine solidarity in South Africa – through campus-based structures, civil society, BDS South Africa, Muslim and Christian groups, anti-Zionist Jewish groups and unions.

There were also numerous efforts to form broad coalitions to coordinate solidarity work. The most recent such effort was the National Coalition for Palestine, formed during the 2014 massacre in Gaza, and now dominated by the NGO BDS South Africa.


Towards a critical shift

In the recent past Palestine solidarity work has been gripped by a dangerous form of populism.

After the massive solidarity march in Cape Town in 2014, Palestine solidarity activism has been characterised by the #BoycottWoolworths campaign. As part of a broader consumer boycott, this campaign aims to pressure Woolworths to remove Israeli products from its shelves. In what was, arguably, a bad tactical move Woolworths was targeted for a consumer boycott because the campaign was deemed “winnable” – for a number of reasons.  There have been a few voices of dissent against the campaign, within the movement and externally, challenging the moral and tactical value of the boycott.

The “winnable” strategy, which is an approach that has dominated the BDS campaign in South Africa, is problematic and unprincipled – it reduces struggle to a list of feel-good victories rather than moving towards substantive change. Alas, almost two years later, the campaign has seemingly lost steam.

Nevertheless, #BoycottWoolworths succeeded in mobilising some (especially young) activists and now needs to be re-strategised into a new, more rigorous strategy. The campaign should build on its success and now cast the intense focus directly on Israeli products, not particular stores. #BoycottWoolworths must now become #BoycottIsrael.

There has also been dangerous courting with the ANC, with some solidarity groups becoming apologists for the ruling party and feting it in rallies as if it’s the vanguard of Palestine solidarity. Although the party has stated its commitment to the BDS campaign, its role has been contradictory, with its government often working contrary to these commitments.

It’s deeply concerning and offensive that apparent support for the Palestinian course is often used (particularly before elections) as an ANC buffer to pacify people sympathetic to the course at the expense of interrogation of problematic policy (and, yes, to get votes).

This inability to properly politicise Palestinian solidarity and approach it with principle rather than just tactic has also seen many ad-hoc airy-fairy events that result in minimal understanding of the complexities of Palestinian activism. Admittedly, there have been more substantive campaigns, such as the current campaign to arrest Shimon Peres, but these have not led to large-scale mobilisation.

There is, now, a need for the Palestine solidarity movement in South Africa to undertake a critical shift in approach.

Fallism

International solidarity is fundamentally complex. It requires astute strategy, radical empathy, moral consistency and a very particular commitment to disrupt the politics of differing oppressions.

The South African movement for solidarity with the Palestinian people needs a process of difficult reflection. It must divorce itself from reductionist praxis and undertake serious mass engagement with the political complexities of the Palestinian struggle and internationalism.

The movement must be claimed as a radical collective movement that is intersectional and decentralised. It must direct both our revolutionary anger and our love for freedom, justice and equality through principled, uncompromising and intelligible strategies.

It is, therefore, also clear that solidarity for the Palestinian struggle must be immersed in the programmes of the decolonisation movement in South Africa. The movement will be compromised if it regards its victimhood to the exclusion of other colonial sufferings.

Key to these solidarity strategies is a more strengthened commitment to force unconscious capital, government and academic institutions to submit to the call from Palestinian comrades to isolate Israel. Consistency in praxis, also, includes uprooting and discomforting Zionist sentiment, in order to de-normalise and remove racist ideology from our spaces.

Israel must fall.

Minhaj Jeenah is the Chairperson of the Muslim Youth Movement Western Cape region, which is a member of the National Coalition for Palestine. Follow him on Twitter @minhajjeenah

This is part of a special series called Apartheid 2.0, which The Daily Vox is running this month in partnership with AlJazeera’s Palestine Remix.

Featured image by Ihsaan Haffejee


 

Read the series:


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