Downgrading embassy in Israel real attack on SA citizens' rights

Wendy Kahn responds to Faiez Jacob's criticism of the exclusion of BDS activists from that country

I respond to Faiez Jacob’s statement by the ANC Western Cape, 11 January 2018 the ANC Western Cape’s assertion that “Israel’s BDS attack is an attack on South Africans’.

We can agree or disagree whether a sovereign country has a right to determine their policies of admission, but to contend that Israel’s decision not to welcome BDS activists into their borders is `an attack on South Africans’ is an ironic inversion of reality.

If there is a move that has attacked South African’s rights in the past month, it has been the ANC’s call to downgrade the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv. This is a true call to violate the rights of South African citizens. This will seriously impact on the religious practice of Jewish and many Christian communities in our country, restricting their access to pilgrimages, religious learning and access to items required for religious practice.

It also infringes on our rights to have a meaningful connection to a country with religious, historical or cultural significance to the majority of the Jewish community and large number of Christian in our country. The Chairperson of the CRL Rights Commission Ms Thoko Mkhwnazi Xaluva said at a forum on 16 December 2017 that she believed that the downgrade would “unfairly impact on the ability of SA Jews to practice and identify with their religious and cultural heritage and as such it would probably be unconstitutional”.

She further said that “no action should overtake the rights of people who live in the country. Otherwise we render the constitution meaningless.” The downgrade resolution proposed by the ANC Western Cape is the real attack on South Africans in our country. The manner in which this downgrade will impact on the loss of jobs through diminished trade and tourism are the real threats to our citizens.

The BDS movement that have been pushing for this downgrade, dominating the floor at the ANC IR Commission at the Elective Conference, should be the ones called out for attacks on South Africans.

The ANC’s depiction of BDS SA as a `peaceful human rights organization’ cannot be further from the truth. The ongoing antisemitic incidents at their protests and activities expose their hatred for Jewish South Africans in South Africa.

On SA University campuses Jewish students during BDS SA’s IAW are called `[email protected]#$ing Jews’ are subjected to Nazi salutes, and witness BDS protesters singing Dubula I’Juda (Shoot the Jew). As part of the BDS protest against Woolworths a pigs head was placed on a kosher shelf in CT and at a BDS protest in Sandton Jews were threatened, “Voetsak. You think this is Israel we will kill you.” And then there are the frequent threats on Jewish Businesses in our country.

If anyone is attacking South Africans it is BDS SA and the ANC WC statement merely exposes their hypocrisy. It is time that they are concerned for all South Africans not just the ones that confirm to their narrative on Israel. Remember ANC WC the preamble to our constitution, “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.”

Wendy Kahn

South African Jewish Board of Deputies