SAJFP’s Core Values

a) SAJFP’s understanding of Zionism

  • Zionism claims that Jews can only be safe from anti-Semitism on the basis of an ethnonational state. It is built on inequality, exclusion, settler-colonialism and violent ethnic cleansing, and asserts an ethnic supremacy which is fundamentally racist. 
  • Zionism insists on a reductive, binary notion of Judaism which demands that all Jews place the state of Israel at the centre of Jewish existence, distorting and destroying other cherished parts of Jewish identity. Zionism rallies support from Jews by deliberately weaponising the fear of anti-Semitism, perverting the memory of the Holocaust and labelling all of its critics as anti-Semites — even Jews. In recent decades, many Jews have been indoctrinated into uncritically supporting Israel in this fashion.
  • But Zionism is a young ideology that was rejected by most Jews for many decades and only gained ground after World War Two. There are multiple ways of being Jewish (older, newer and yet to be created) that allow for communities to flourish in safety and diversity. 
  • Support for Zionism is not limited to Jewish people, with the ideology prominently endorsed by many Christian evangelicals and those working in the interests of racial capitalism. Indeed, Zionism has a long and sordid history of employing anti-Semitic tropes and making alliances with powerful anti-Semites like Arthur Balfour, who wanted to push Jews out of the United Kingdom.

b) Israel as an apartheid state

  • SAJFP clearly affirms that Israel is an apartheid state, existing as an extension of the Zionist colonial project which gave rise to the Nakba, intentionally displacing nearly a million Palestinians in favour of Jewish settlers. The idea of systematically separating and subjugating one group of people for the benefit of another is at the core of what it means to enact apartheid. 
  • SAJFP understands Israeli apartheid as multifaceted, given that the institutionalised segregation and inequality between Israelis and Palestinians exists in the legal, political, historical and socioeconomic spheres. 
  • Not only does Israeli policy often discriminate in different ways against different Palestinian populations, it also discriminates against Mizrahi, Arab and African Jews. SAJFP rejects the unfounded assumption that all Jews are white or access white privilege.
  • Acknowledging that most (though not all) of our members are beneficiaries of South African apartheid, SAJFP is committed to subverting this privilege by challenging all forms of racism and apartheid wherever we encounter them.
  • While affirming that apartheid is an appropriate term to describe Israel, SAJFP is clear that this does not mean Israeli apartheid and South African apartheid are identical. It does however mean that as South Africans we take seriously our responsibility to fight for the end to all forms of apartheid.

c) SAJFP’s position on anti-Semitism

  • SAJFP is fundamentally opposed to anti-Semitism, defined as discrimination against, hatred of, or systemic oppression of Jews. SAJFP rejects all forms of anti-Semitism, regardless of whether it comes from people or organisations linked to the right wing, to liberalism, or whether it is deployed by those who may be considered progressive or on the “Left”.
  • Anti-Zionism and/or critique of Israel is not anti-Semitism. Indeed, anti-Zionism is a form of anti-racism, and thus aligned with combating anti-Semitism. 
  • Likewise, Zionism is not Judaism and the effort to conflate the two is itself a form of anti-Semitism because it reduces a diverse and dynamic cultural and religious group to a nation-state.
  • Anti-Semitism is interconnected with other forms of oppression: the struggle against one must be an indivisible struggle against all.

d) SAJFP’s position on solving the ‘Israel/Palestine conflict’

  • SAJFP supports the end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the end of the Israeli apartheid regime, and the realisation of the right of return for all Palestinians.
  • SAJFP follows the lead of the Palestinian people to determine their own future.
  • At the same time, the organisation is committed to a substantive freedom and democracy, equality and justice for all those living in the territories today classified as Israel/Palestine, irrespective of religion or ethnicity. 

e) SAJFP’s position on the nature of Palestinian struggle 

  • As a solidarity organisation in support of Palestinian liberation, SAJFP takes its cue from the people of Palestine and their multiple strategies for securing liberation. 
  • SAJFP is committed to social justice, and supports the strategic efforts of Palestinians to resist their oppression.
  • SAJFP takes an ‘anti-violence’ position: defined as acting against or in opposition to violence. 
  • We recognise colonisation and the occupation of Palestine as violence — the current genocide against Gaza is an overwhelming attempt at complete and final violence — and we therefore support the rights of Palestinians to rise up against these (and other) forms of violence.

f) SAJFP’s position on BDS

  • SAJFP is a member of the South African Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Coalition and supports Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as one of the many tactics we can use to help bring about an end to the occupation and achieve a free, liberated, decolonised Palestine. As such SAJFP supports and follows the guidance of the BDS National Committee (BNC), the Palestinian organisation driving the BDS campaign globally.

g) SAJFP’s understanding of what constitutes anti-Zionism

  • Anti-Zionism is an affirmation of the long history of Jewish flourishing outside of the intersecting oppression structures of colonialism, racism, and capitalism.
  • SAJFP’s anti-Zionism is deeply rooted in the Jewish values of doykayt or hereness — making homes with other people wherever Jews live, instead of taking their homes. It is based on solidarity with all people; it is committed to equality; and it embraces diversity as a source of strength, not something to be feared or hated. We invite and urge fellow Jews to find their way back to these values. 
  • Anti-Zionism is a clear and committed rejection of racism, colonialism and fascism and, contrary to Zionism, values all life.

h) SAJFP’s position on responsibility and accountability as South African Jews

  • SAJFP is a solidarity organisation, committed to supporting the struggle of Palestinians.
  • SAJFP is also an anti-Zionist organisation, and since Judaism has itself been besieged by Zionism, we are committed to subverting that aspect Zionism too, by advocating for an alternative, ethically grounded, type of Jewish identity, practice,  and community.
  • As South African Jews we are in a privileged position to organise and build a progressive Jewish movement. Our support for Palestine should be an expression of the Jewish values of this movement. This requires that we ally with other solidarity organisations as well as supporting and linking strugglings for justice in South Africa to the Palestinian struggle. It also requires a commitment to the internal work, challenging and engaging local Jewish communities.