The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) wishes the best of luck to all the South African athletes participating in the World Aquatics Junior Swimming Championships taking place in Israel this week. We are pleased that Swimming SA, in line with other South African sports bodies, has refused to be bullied by the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s desperate and divisive attempt to prevent normalisation between South Africa and the world’s only Jewish State. 

The SAZF commends the leadership of Swimming SA for standing up to BDS’ deplorable campaign to prevent South African swimmers from competing in an international swimming event simply because it took place in Israel. The Championships will bring over 600 promising young swimmers from over 100 countries to the beautiful coastal city of Netanya this week. 

Swimming SA stands alongside South African superstars that include Black Coffee, Orlando Pirates, Chess South Africa, Tennis South Africa and Miss South Africa, who have performed or taken part in global events in Israel against the bullying, threats and intimidation tactics of BDS. 

The divisive and hateful BDS movement stirs up unnecessary division in South Africa by pitting ordinary South Africans against the Holy Land of Israel and encouraging denormalisation. Only South Africans can lose from this equation. Israel has consistently shown itself to be a key partner for sustainable development in its relations with many African nations. In South Africa, Israeli technology and innovation have provided a stable water supply to over half a million people living in rural communities in South Africa as well. 

The State of Israel is currently the only democracy in the Middle East, where the rights of Christians, Druze, Muslims and Jews are equally protected and respected by law. Israel is home to a multicultural society where the rights of all religions, minorities, ethnicities and beliefs are protected and promoted. It is a partner and friend to South Africa, it offers international experiences to bolster the careers of our young athletes, and yet, the hateful BDS movement would prefer to see our sportstars sink rather than swim. 

The SAZF welcomes the fact that sport and cultural exchange has triumphed over hate, and we will continue to welcome positive engagements between South Africa and Israel.