SAJFP Welcomes Historic Motion to Close Israeli Embassy in SA and Call for Total Ceasefire and a Free Palestine


South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP) welcomes with much enthusiasm the motion in the South African Parliament calling for the closure of the Israeli embassy and suspension of all diplomatic relations until a ceasefire. Passed on Tuesday the 21st of November, the motion had
remarkable support at 248 votes in favour and a mere 91 against (almost unprecedented in South Africa’s democratic history).

In this regard, as a collective of South African Jews who believe in justice and equality for all, and stand against apartheid anywhere, we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for a Free Palestine. We are guided in everything we do by this political and moral commitment to social justice and Palestinian self-determination.

Jewish Holocaust and Genocide scholar, Raz Segal has referred to Israel’s offensive in Gaza as a ‘textbook case of genocide’. As Jewish people, as South Africans, we know genocide and apartheid when we see it, many of us descend from Holocaust and pogrom escapees and survivors. We cannot stand by as the memory of our ancestors and our grief is weaponized for
interlinked genocidal projects.

Palestinian freedom is undermined wholly by the fascist project of Zionism. Zionism, far from being a part of Judaism, is a colonial ideology which seeks to exploit Jewish identity and trauma as a pretext to dispossess and murder Palestinians. Thus, genuine safety for Jewish people is contingent on equal rights and freedoms for Palestinians. Indeed, Israel’s destructive actions, combined with their deliberate conflation of Judaism with Zionism, manufactures a natural route to more, rather than less, antisemitism.

Israel’s present campaign is a continuation of the Nakba, forced removals and ethnic cleansing which find their origins in the founding of the Israeli state in 1948, the same year that apartheid was formalized in South Africa. Testimonies by previous Israeli Ambassadors, Ilan Baruch and Alon Liel, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and many emissaries from South Africa, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu further solidify Israel as a genocidal state.

The maintenance of apartheid Israel’s diplomatic presence is part of the machinery of Zionism, and therefore having Israeli diplomatic ties in South Africa also means supporting the machinery of genocide. We thus welcome this decision in the direction of Palestinian, Jewish, and anti-colonial liberation.

In this context, we call for an immediate sustained ceasefire with a view to the decolonization of Palestine and the total ending of racist occupation and all associated violence. Israel has consistently contravened International Law, starving the population and not allowing water and energy to enter the Gaza strip; bombing hospitals, schools, assassinating journalists and aid
workers. We have also been deeply affected by the targeted murder of the head of Gift of the Givers in Gaza, Ahmed Abbasi. Joining a growing legion of Jews worldwide, we say, not in our name.

As such, we commend the South African government on its fervent support of the Palestinian struggle thus far, and implore it to immediately implement the following actions:

  • Expel the Israeli ambassador and close the embassy
  • Review trade and other relations between Israel and South Africa (including an arms embargo) as recommended by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement.
  • Prosecute South African citizens who serve as mercenaries in the Israeli military and participate in the killing of Palestinians, in the course of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and settler colonial violence and dispossession.

The above actions will aid in compelling Israel to meet the short-term demands of a ceasefire, and the urgent restoration of water, food, fuel, medical supplies and humanitarian aid. We believe the aforementioned meaningful actions, beyond verbal solidarity, will create the necessary conditions to direct the apartheid State of Israel towards a just long-term solution.

South Africa’s voice on this matter is valued on the international stage, based on our own experience in the struggle against apartheid where international solidarity was fundamental for the success of our cause. Chile, Chad, Colombia, Bolivia and four others have made the bold and historic choice to expel the Israeli ambassador after recent events and South Africa doing
the same will set a moral precedent for the rest of the continent and the world. It is our moral imperative as South Africans, to stand against oppression and the South African government should represent this stance decisively, leading on the international stage.

Ceasefire now! End the genocide! Abolish the Zionist entity! Free Palestine! From the river to the sea!