Ad in South African paper boasts of ‘growing number of Jews’ who unconditionally oppose Israeli policies

MailGuardian Newspaper 14 December 2012
Mail Guardian Newspaper 14 December 2012

BDS South Africa has sent out a press release about a powerful ad in South Africa’s Mail  & Guardian, a weekly newspaper. The ad read as follows: 

AS JEWS, WITH OUR OWN PAINFUL HISTORY OF OPPRESSION…

“The temptation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine … yet we would be less than human if we did so.”

- NELSON R. MANDELA

As Jews, with our own painful history of oppression, we are compelled to speak out against human rights violations being committed by the State of Israel – in our name – against the Palestinian people.

We note that the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) together with the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), recently met with the South African Presidency and other politicians. We also note, with great concern, the SAJBD and SAZF’s assertion that they represent and speak on behalf of all Jewish South Africans, particularly when it comes to Palestine-Israel.

Let us be clear, the SAJBD and SAZF’s position of supporting Israel at all costs does not represent us. We also appeal to the SAJBD and SAZF to respect one of the hallmarks of Judaism: respectful debate amongst those who hold divergent viewpoints. The SAJBD and SAZF’s position on Israel, and attempts to stifle opposing voices that speak out against Israel, is morally untenable.

The Jewish community is neither homogeneous nor monolithic.  There is a growing number of Jews, in South Africa and around the world, who are organising to form alternative spaces and who unconditionally oppose Israeli policies and practices that shamefully privilege Jews over the indigenous Palestinian people.  In this vein, we support the non-violent campaign of applying Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it abides by international law and respects basic human rights [see www.bdsmovement.net].

We are encouraged that our South African government is joining those countries that are taking a clear stance against Israel’s violations of international law and its acts of violence against the Palestinian people [ see this City Press newspaper article]. We also welcome and support our Department of Trade and Industry’s initiative to prevent the false labelling of Israeli settlement products [see this Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper article]. We hope that the ANC and the SA Government goes further and completely bans Israeli settlement products. Israeli settlements are in clear violation of international law and seriously undermine any chance of negotiations and a just peace.

Such positions as those recently taken by our government against Israeli violence and violations of international law, in fact, serve to affirm a proud Jewish tradition of respect for justice and human rights; regardless of race, religion or creed. Such positions connect us to our fellow humanity.

We humbly – and sadly – acknowledge that our voices may not be the dominant ones in our community, but neither were Dietrich Bonnhoefer’s in Nazi Germany nor Beyers Naude’s, Antjie Krog’s, Braam Fischer’s and Joe Slovo’s in Apartheid South Africa.

Our individual consciences, our Jewish tradition and our painful history compel us to declare to the SAJBD, SAZF and to the Israeli government that we will continue to speak out and take a stand for justice and human rights.  Taking such a stand is in the very interests of being Jewish. For when we proclaim “Never Again”, we should mean “Never Again”, unconditionally, and to any human being – including the Palestinians.

Issued by Alan Horwitz for StopTheJNF, a campaign initiated by a group of Jewish South Africans committed to justice and rights for the Palestinian people and Jewish Israelis. Find the original statement and more information here: BDS South Africa: Stop the JNF South Africa

BDS South Africa adds:

Mentioned in the above statement is Joe Slovo: the well-known South African Treason Trialist, founding member of the South African Congress of Democrats, the former South African Communist Party General-Secretary, the Chief of Staff  during the 1980s of the African National Congress’ armed wing (Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK)) and a leading NEC member of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC). Slovo, who was born Jewish, was an outspoken critic of Apartheid South Africa as well as a consistent critic of the Israeli regime – which he also considered an Apartheid state.

In fact, Slovo publicly exposed and highlighted the shameful military collaborations during the 1970s and 1980s between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa (see this UK Guardian newspaper article). In an unfinished autobiography, Joe Slovo wrote: “Ironically enough, the horrors of the Holocaust became the rationalization [by Israeli supporters] for … acts of genocide against the indigenous people of Palestine. Those of us who, in the years that were to follow, raised our voices publicly against the violent apartheid of the Israeli state were vilified…”.

About BDS SOUTH AFRICA

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani
Posted in Activism, BDS, Israel/Palestine, Occupation

{ 6 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Qualtrough says:

    The line beginning with “As Jews” should follow the Mandela quote, as per the ad. I was left wondering how I didn’t know Mandela was Jewish!

  2. this is brilliantly written. it really inspires me to learn more about Joe Slovo, the supporting links are fantastic, everything. this is more than i have come to expect from a press release. it’s more of a masterpiece. thank you, who ever you are, for writing this. and thank you to BDS South Africa. thank you for all the people on the globe in their persistence to get it right this time. we shall over come.

    peace

  3. Shmuel says:

    Reuters Dec 16, 2012

    Palestinian PM Fayyad hits back at Israel with boycott call

    By Ali Sawafta

    RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad urged his compatriots in the occupied West Bank on Sunday to boycott all Israeli products, upping the ante in a standoff with the Jewish state.

    Tensions between Palestinian and Israeli leaders have risen since the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize Palestinian statehood last month, a move opposed by Israel and its ally, the United States.

    Israel retaliated by announcing last week that it would dock for four months the customs revenue it collects on the Palestinians’ behalf – money the Palestinian Authority needs to function. It had already withheld December’s revenues.

    “Today, I call upon citizens to boycott Israeli products as an answer to the aggression directed against us, to defend our right to survive,” Fayyad told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

    “We will take the necessary steps to implement that.”

    Fayyad had previously angered Israel by issuing calls to avoid buying Israeli goods produced in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but Sunday’s call extended the call to all Israeli goods.

    Israel has already accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of violating peace accords by sidestepping stalled negotiations and securing a status upgrade at the United Nations.

    Fayyad’s boycott call may be tough to implement, as Israel is the Palestinians’ biggest trading partner, and Israeli food and manufactured goods are staples of the Palestinian market.

    The Palestinians imported goods worth around $3 billion from Israel in 2011, while exporting only $618 million worth, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

    Trade within the occupied West Bank and with neighboring countries is largely governed by Israel, which controls the import of some construction and agricultural equipment that it says could have military uses.

    Earlier this month, Israel withheld its December transfer of customs revenue to the Palestinians, saying the money would be used to start paying off $200 million owed to the Israel Electric Corporation.

    Fayyad called on Arab countries to make good on pledges to make up for any funds Israel withdraws from the Palestinians as punishment for its decision to go the United Nations.

    “I call the Arab Safety Net to implement immediately its pledges to provide $100 million,” Fayyad said. “I call for an exceptional Arab League meeting to look into the needs of the Palestinians.”

    Arab countries have yet to provide the exceptional funds.

    (Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

    link to ca.reuters.com

  4. pabelmont says:

    “As Jews, with our own painful history of oppression, we are compelled to speak out against human rights violations being committed by the State of Israel – in our name – against the Palestinian people.”

    I am about to call these Jews “dissident Jews”, but by that I do not mean that they are false to traditional Jewish values or disloyal to the Jewish people — or to the human race. I only mean that what seems, what has been “painted” and coerced, to be the wholesale approval of Zionism among Jews has made the expression of decent, humane values by Jews seem a form of dissidence.

    THAT SAID, THIS AD IS GOOD. However, one wants everyone to speak out, and forcefully; not only (dissident) Jews.

    If you believe (as we seem to be taught in the USA) that non-Jews (and secret dissident Jews themselves) need to receive (and know that they have received, and to know that their friends and neighbors know that they have received) “permission” from Jews, from the Jews they personally know, from the Jews who live in their neighborhood or city — to speak out for the human rights of the Palestinian people, then we can only be delighted whenever dissident Jews speak out. Let’s hear more of it, in every country!

  5. American says:

    Excellent!
    Would also be great to see this appear in some US papers.
    South African Jews, in particular, making this statement in/to the US could shake up some thinking.
    I remember 5 or 6 years ago CNI doing a full page ad aimed at the Lobby showing Israel as a King Kong gorilla sitting on top of the capitol.
    I don’t know how effective these ads are but I would think they do have to have some effect, at least arouse people who know nothing to do some questioning about Israel.