ANC and NFP pass symbolic & discriminatory motion against Israel whilst remaining silent on Russia’s war on Ukraine

The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) is appalled by the passing of the National Freedom Party’s (NFP) parliamentary motion calling to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel alongside making false and inflammatory accusations against Israel. The SAZF calls on South Africa’s political players to cease their divisive and inconsistent foreign affairs agenda and manage South Africa’s international affairs with uniformity, principle and dignity. 

The NFP’s motion was met with widespread disdain and opposition in Parliament, with public representatives from the Democratic Alliance (DA), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and Freedom Front (FF+) all uniting to voice their opposition to the move. 

The motion does not represent the voice of most South Africans, who hold no ill-will towards Israel, and must be viewed as a purely symbolic and domestic act by narrow-minded political actors. Its only achievement is to diminish South Africa’s international standing and ability to play any meaningful role in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Business relations and travel between South Africa and Israel will remain intact, while Israel continues to normalise relations with a number of other countries in the Middle East and Africa. 

The motion will have absolutely no effect on Israel, but sends a worrying message to South African Jews, Christians and Muslims wishing to travel or make pilgrimage to the Holy Land for religious reasons. It is a blatant attempt by Parliament to encroach upon the religious rights and freedoms of all South Africans that are enshrined by our Constitution. 

We note that this symbolic act took place during Purim, a Jewish holiday that commemorates how Jews were saved from genocide at the hands of Haman in ancient Persia.  It is ironic that Parliament would pick this day, of all days, to target and sanction the world’s only Jewish State, whose existence serves to prevent another genocide against the Jewish People. 

This decision comes at a time when South Africans are being brought to their knees by a crippling energy crisis, with rolling blackouts destroying businesses and livelihoods on a daily basis. This is taking place against a backdrop of record-breaking unemployment figures, while crime runs unabated, alongside a murder rate that is higher than the death toll in Russia’s war on Ukraine. 

South Africans deserve better from our leaders. Instead of diverting our attention to the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel, Parliament ought to take a position against Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. The ANC government has created a foreign policy that aims to befriend dictatorships and bash democracies. It obsesses over Israel, which is the size of our Kruger National Park, and at the same hosts navy war drills with Russia, responsible for horrific war crimes and the deaths of  thousands of innocent Ukrainian civilians over the past year. South Africans haven’t called for a downgrade of the South African embassy in Israel. But they have called, in numbers, for an end to the close friendships between the ANC government and international pariahs. 

Israel remains the only democracy in the Middle East where the rights of all religions, minorities, ethnicities and beliefs are protected. It is the only country in the Middle East where the population of Christians is protected and growing. It is home to some of the world’s holiest sites that hold religious and spiritual reverence for Christians, Muslims and Jews. 

The SAZF calls on the ANC government to end its hostility towards the state of Israel, which remains a partner for development for all African countries. In 2023 alone, political parties and public representatives from Angola, Chad, Papua New Guinea and Sudan have all made moves to grow their diplomatic relations with Israel. It is time for South Africa to do the same. 

The South African Jewish community has learnt the lesson of Purim. We will remain proud and public Jews and Zionists in South Africa, in spite of ongoing attempts to undermine us. 


*IMAGE: Photograph of Parliament in Company Gardens.