The South African Jewish community deplores Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ebrahim Ebrahim’s statement that he is discouraging South Africans from visiting Israel. Such a stance is grossly discriminatory, counter-productive and wholly inconsistent with how South Africa normally conducts its international relations and contradicts its official policy of having full diplomatic ties with Israel.
The result of such a policy is that South Africa, instead of lending its weight to international efforts to bring about a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, will be seen to be supporting those who wish to promote a complete boycott of Israel and to that end seek to shut down any initiatives aimed at meaningful dialogue. Effectively, honest debate is being shut down, the Israeli viewpoint censored and people denied the opportunity of making their own informed decision through actions amounting to controlling access to information on the part of a government department.
Whereas in other areas of conflict around the world, South Africa consistently emphasises the need for constant dialogue and engagement between all the parties concerned, when it comes to the Israel-Palestinian question, its current policy would seem to be to prevent the Israeli case from even being heard. Only through visiting Israel and engaging at first hand with the various role-players and issues on the ground can people gain a better understanding of the situation there, yet it is precisely such visits that Deputy Minister Ebrahim is seeking to prevent.
Mr Ebrahim’s statements are indicative of a highly discriminatory and disproportionate obsession with the Jewish State. In further polarising rather than bringing together the various parties, it undermines the government’s oft-stated policy of supporting a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, it harms South Africa’s standing as a credible player in resolving international disputes.
One-sided boycotts only play into the hands of those who oppose a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian question. It is not in South Africa’s interests, both domestically and internationally, to support such extremists.
For more information please contact Avrom Krengel on 082 600 6465, Mary Kluk on 083 7758618 or Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein at email@example.com
Issued by the South African Zionist Federation, South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the Office of the Chief Rabbi.