South African ruling party endorses Israeli Apartheid Week

ANC says it’s ‘unapologetic’ in view that ‘Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict’

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

An illustrative photo of pro-Palestinian demonstrators during an Apartheid Week event at the University of Texas. (photo credit: CC-BY Monad86, Flickr)
An illustrative photo of pro-Palestinian demonstrators during an Apartheid Week event at the University of Texas. (photo credit: CC-BY Monad86, Flickr)

South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, has officially endorsed “Israeli Apartheid Week,” a series of anti-Israel events taking place this month across the globe.

“The ANC is unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel,” read a statement released Sunday by the party’s head of international relations, K. Obed Bapela.

“The ANC is proud to join the over 75 South African organizations, trade unions, civil society groups, schools, universities, religious communities, NGOs and other formations in participating in this year’s 10th international Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW),” the statement said.

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said the ANC’s position on Apartheid Week was “unworthy of a response or otherwise any comment.”

According to a press release, the ANC’s stance on Israeli Apartheid Week “is in line with our long standing international positions.” The government in Pretoria, and ANC officials in general, have long been critical of Israeli policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians. In 2012 the ANC, which controls two thirds of the National Assembly, endorsed the anti-Israel Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement.

Last November, South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said she was losing sleep over the Palestinians’ plight and added that Pretoria would downgrade relations with Israel. Speaking to a Congress of South African Trade Unions international relations committee, she said it was Pretoria’s policy that “ministers of South Africa do not visit Israel currently.”

“We have agreed to slow down and curtail senior leadership contact with that regime until things begin to look better,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

Israeli Apartheid Week, held between February 24 and March 2 in more than 200 cities from Porto Allegre, Brazil, to Osaka, Japan, is an annual major advocacy event of the BDS movement. It offers seminars on what is termed the Israeli occupation of Palestine and Israel’s “racist” practices toward the Palestinian people. It also holds public demonstrations.

According to IAW organizers, there has been “a sharp increase of literature and analysis that has sought to document and challenge Israeli apartheid, including reports issued by major international bodies and human rights organizations and findings published by political leaders, thinkers, academics, and activists.”

Officials in Israel’s Foreign Ministry said, though, that the week-long event has little impact and that the strength of the organizations running it has significantly decreased over the years.

Aron Dónzis contributed to this report.

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