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The Jewish-Christian link in SA elections

Elections due for early 2014, are shaping up to be South Africa’s most hotly contested. A critical array of issues, such as unemployment levels in excess of 40% and still rising, poor delivery of basic services, police brutality, on-going rolling labour unrest, chronic government corruption and a stalling economy are vital to every population group.

There are currently 13 political parties represented in parliament, although the ruling party, the African National Congress, and its allies, the South African Communist party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which is not a political party, hold just shy of two thirds of the seats. The Democratic Alliance, which controls 67 seats in the National Assembly is the official opposition. The ANC controls eight of the country’s nine provinces, with the exception of the Western Cape, where the Democratic Alliance won the majority in the 2009 elections. In the Western Cape the ANC has launched an early make or break political campaign, appealing through its anti-Israel rhetoric, to the large Muslim population, to redirect support from the DA to enable them to gain control of this province. The ANC also controls five of the six metropolitan municipalities.

What is of particular significance for Jewish citizens, is that the ANC and its tripartite allies have officially endorsed Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. They are the first non-Arab or Muslim state to take such a strong principled stand against Israel. Its apartheid legacy, grants South Africa a hallowed place among people struggling against racism, slavery and ethnic discrimination. The persistence of prominent South Africans, such as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, associating Israel with “apartheid” type policies, makes South Africa the “ground zero” for the BDS movement. The aim of the BDS activists is to isolate Israel from the family of nations, in order to weaken it, and ultimately to destroy it, as happened to “apartheid South Africa”.

Out of the whole spectrum of political parties, only two small parties propound pro-Israel policies. They are the Inkatha Freedom Party with 18 seats in the National Assembly led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, which draws its support largely from Zulu-speaking South Africans, residing in the rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal. The other is the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) with three seats in the National Assembly, down from six in 1999. It is led by the Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, with impeccable credentials as a struggle hero against apartheid.

Although the ACDP was formed in December 1993 with the aim of representing South African Christians in Parliament, it has largely failed to gain traction with the nearly 80% of South Africans that profess to be Christian. For the upcoming elections the ACDP has broadened its appeal to attract voters subscribing to Judeo-Christian values. Although at first glance it is unlikely that a Christian party will attract Jewish voters, and even if it succeeds, Jews represent less than half of one percent of the voters, the party has its eyes on the Christian Zionists who represent more than half the electorate. The Jewish community has well established links with many of these Christian Zionist groups and they can vouch for the principled pro-Israel stand that has been adopted by the ACDP. Illustrative of this posture, the ACDP can point to the many debates in Parliament, like when the ANC moved a motion that condemned Israel for the loss of Palestinian lives during the conflict in the Middle East. Speaking out against this motion, Rev Meshoe called for the “disbanding and disarming of Lebanese (Hezbollah) and non-Lebanese militias”.

On June 6 2007 in response to a draft resolution printed by the ANC calling for a debate on “the arrest and detention of members of the Palestinian Legislative Council”, Rev Meshoe said “the ACDP will not support the printed reprehensible draft resolution that ignores the history of the Middle East that did not start in 1967. We will support the honourable Douglas Gibson’s (from the DA) call upon the United Nations and all countries of goodwill to exert pressure on both Israel and Palestine to sit down together at the negotiating table … ”

On October 23 2001 during the Report of the Parliamentary fact finding Mission to Israel and Palestine, Meshoe stated that: “One of the serious omissions is that there is no mention of the historical and the religious Jewish link with the land of Israel. Instead, the historical overview begins in 1922, as if there was no Jewish connection to the Israel/Palestine prior to this date. Nowhere in the report is it stated why the land of Israel has been and continues to be of such significance to the Jewish people all over the world. The history of Israel that we read about in the Bible relates to events that took place hundreds of years before 1922. The report should have recognised this important fact. The issue of Jerusalem for example, is linked in the Bible to Israel and Judah. This fact has not been acknowledged. If we want to succeed in promoting peaceful co-existence between Israel and Palestine, then all historical and archaeological facts must be taken into consideration.”

When the third international session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine took place in Cape Town in November 2011, it intended holding its hearings in Parliament — symbolically the very place where apartheid laws were promulgated. It was largely through the intervention of Steve Swart of the ACDP, that these plans were stymied.

When on December 21 2012 the ANC voted to make BDS of Israel its official policy, the ACDP responded;

“ Firstly … our support for and defence of Israel to exist within safe and secure borders, which will include defending its citizens whenever they are attacked by their enemies such as Hamas. Secondly, the ACDP will encourage and lobby countries to formalise ties with Israel and reject (the) BDS campaign.”

Following the publication of the general notice by the minister of trade and industry, Rob Davies, of “labelling of products from Occupied Palestinian territory, wrongly labelled as originating in Israel”, in May 2012, Meshoe initiated a protest march against this fatally flawed proposed legislation. The March was supported by 2 000 Christians and Jews who marched outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria to the department of trade and industry, where they handed over a memorandum from the ACDP and the IFP to the minister.

The presence on this march of a wide cross-section of Christians, including members of the Shembe Church, shook the tripartite alliance. While Jews could be side-lined, ignored and disregarded the strength of the voting power of their Christian allies, stirred Patrick Craven from Cosatu to accuse the Zionists of “having blood on their hands”.

The ACDP has announced its intention to field its first Jewish candidate for Parliament.

Author

  • Ben studied at Wits, the Hebrew University, London School of Economics and University of Pretoria. He has two master’s degrees and has written four books on anthropology. He was the founding member of Jews for Justice, which took a stand against apartheid and provided assistance to victims of violence in Crossroads. He started Boston House College, a multiracial school in 1979. He currently serves as chairperson of the SA Zionist Federation in the Cape Council. He is married with four children.

18 Comments

  1. ian shaw ian shaw 31 May 2013

    The author of this article is a declared Zionist, so it is natural that he violently objects to any opinions against Israel and the South African zionist lobby.

  2. Richard Becker Richard Becker 1 June 2013

    @ Ian Shaw. So what? That does not make his argument and point of view invalid. I agree strongly with him.

  3. bernpm bernpm 1 June 2013

    You say: “Jews represent less than half of one percent of the voters,” So???? who cares about the SA Jews in SA politics?

    SA and Israel?? During the 1960’s war, I was supporting the Israelis and thought I understood their case.
    Later I connected the motives of US interest in Israel and its doings, hostile as they were: oil and power in the Middle East. Very little intentions from Israel for a peaceful cooperation with the Palestinians. The US could not get a guaranteed “pro US” attitude from the Palestinians.

    SA and Israel during apartheid? A convenient connection for the US to hidden support for the apartheid regime against the Russian attempts to control African governments as part of the cold war.

    Significant to note that Apartheid fell shortly after the Berlin wall had fallen. SA had lost its strategic position in the cold war and a US friendship with the ANC was politically a better option for control over Africa.

    The ANC support for the Palestinians (anti Israel) is part of the ANC’s “friendly for the Middle East strategy”.

  4. Brian Brian 2 June 2013

    @ Enough Said.

    What has that story got to do with anything ? The story was first reported in Israel (J Post) so it was hardly a cover up and certainly no revelation by AJ. There is not a shred of evidence that a war crime was committed. On the other hand, plenty of evidence of willingness on your part to leap to conclusions to feed a healthy anti Israel bias.

    There are graves all over Israel of men, women and children on both sides who have been caught up in the cross fire of this 100 year conflict. It is a tragedy if the families in this instance could not bury their dead but it appears the Israeli authorities were not even aware of this at the time.

    It is a story that has once again been whipped up by propagandists with no regard for the truth.

    If this is the calibre of ameture commentry that Jewish groups have to put up with, then they in big trouble.

  5. Enough Said Enough Said 2 June 2013

    @Brian

    Read read the article again; ‘only two small parties propound pro-Israel policies.’ – the IFP and ACDP.

    I pointed out: “Skeletal remains of dozens of Palestinians killed by Israelis during 1948 have been found in a mass grave in Tel Aviv.
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/06/20136104317486359.html

    You can vote IFP or ACDP because they are pro-Israeli. I certainly will not. In my opinion the government of Israel is one of the worst terrorist organizations in the world, the above article I quoted is one of many that confirms confirms what I think.

    Jewish settles stole Arab land in 1948 and murdered Palestinians and buried them in mass graves. Nice people?

  6. David L David L 2 June 2013

    The VF+ is also a solidly pro-Israel party in South Africa.

  7. Louise Swart Louise Swart 3 June 2013

    This is an excellent read, South Africa is facing her most important election since 1994 and I, as wife of MP Steve Swart and an ardent ACDP supporter, I trust for a miracle for our nation. A new government and a new breed of politian, God- fearing, servant leaders, men and women of integrity to lead this great nation to see South Africa florish at every level. Against all odds, this is a new day for South Africa and her awesome people. In God we trust!! Africa it is your time to ARISE!! ACDP welcomes the day of working side by side with our precious Jewish friends to see a new day for our nation as we grow this relationship with Israel and South Africa.We have much to learn from each other, both being considered small and insignificant – BUT GOD, He is able!l

  8. Brian Brian 3 June 2013

    @ enough said

    “Jewish settles (sic) …. murdered Palestinians and buried them in mass graves”.

    Are you for real ? No evidence they were murdered. And if you bother to read the story, you will find that Palestinians buried the bodies, not Jews.

    The degree to which you are willing to ignore the facts speaks volumes about your objectivity..

    As for your link to the very old story about possible ICC proceedings, there are many many Jews who are opposed to the settlements (myself incl) but the settlement issue is only one of around 10 other major obstacles to peace. You might want to read a bit more about why negs have broken down over the last 13 yrs. you’ll find the Pals have been more than complicit in the current deadlock and that it’s a bit more complicated than I’m guessing you and many others understand. Until then, the tired old cliches about Israel being a “terrorist” state will continue to spew out.

    Please don’t bother cutting and pasting a link about 1948. Have read Benny Morris, Pappe and Finklestein and don’t need educating on this stuff. It’s been done to death. Time to move on.

  9. Enough Said Enough Said 3 June 2013

    @Brian

    You can split hairs about what I said. But read, the article says “Skeletal remains of dozens of Palestinians killed by Israelis during 1948 have been found in a mass grave in Tel Aviv.” ?

    Like it or not, the Israeli’s stole Arab land with the help of Britain and others. And the ongoing settlements are just continued theft of Palestinian land. As the UN says, a case for prosecution for crimes against humanity.

    But lets go to other sources, the Israeli massacres get worse:

    According to the sources and to the definition, between 10 and 70 massacres occurred during the 1948 War.[1][3][4]

    Yishuv soldiers killed roughly 800 Arab civilians and prisoners of war.[1] Most of these occurred as villages were overrun and captured during the Second phase of the Civil War, Operation Dani, Operation Hiram and Operation Yoav.[1][5]

    According to Morris, the Israelis were responsible for 24 massacres during the war.[1] Aryeh Yizthaki attests 10 major massacres with more than 50 victims each.[6] Palestinian researcher Salman Abu-Sitta records 33, half of them occurring during the civil war period[6] and Saleh Abdel Jawad has listed 68 villages where acts of indiscriminate killing of prisoners, and civilians, where no threat was posed to Israeli soldiers, took place.[7]

    Referenced article on Wikipedia.

  10. Makes Makes 4 June 2013

    The good Reverend needs a history lesson: http://www.juancole.com/2010/03/top-ten-reasons-east-jerusalem-does-not.html

    “Here are the groups that have the greatest claim to the city of Jerusalem

    A. The Muslims, who ruled it and built it over 1191 years.

    B. The Egyptians, who ruled it as a vassal state for several hundred years in the second millennium BCE.

    C. The Italians, who ruled it about 444 years until the fall of the Roman Empire in 450 CE.

    D. The Iranians, who ruled it for 205 years under the Achaemenids, for three years under the Parthians (insofar as the last Hasmonean was actually their vassal), and for 15 years under the Sasanids.

    E. The Greeks, who ruled it for over 160 years if we count the Ptolemys and Seleucids as Greek. If we count them as Egyptians and Syrians, that would increase the Egyptian claim and introduce a Syrian one.

    F. The successor states to the Byzantines, which could be either Greece or Turkey, who ruled it 188 years, though if we consider the heir to be Greece and add in the time the Hellenistic Greek dynasties ruled it, that would give Greece nearly 350 years as ruler of Jerusalem.

    G. There is an Iraqi claim to Jerusalem based on the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests, as well as perhaps the rule of the Ayyubids (Saladin’s dynasty), who were Kurds from Iraq.

    9. Of course, Jews are historically connected to Jerusalem by the Temple, whenever that connection is dated to. But that link mostly was pursued when Jews were…

  11. Brian Brian 6 June 2013

    @Enough Said

    How many innocent Jews were killed prior to 1947/8 in the 1920, 1921, 1929, 1933 and 1936-39 Arab riots and revolts ?

    No one denies that Israel’s birth was far from clean. More Israelis accept this than Palestinians willing to acknowledge the errors they made and unnecessary wars they started.

    Nothing excuses the killing documented by Morris and others but some context is required. The generation of Jews arriving in Israel after the war thought they were fighting for their survival. Many lost families and seen more horror in Europe than the Palestinians have seen in their existence. They had little reason to trust Arabs who had been violent towards them from day one (a view reinforced when it was discovered later that the Muft of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini was colluding with Hitler); they were rightly concerned about a ‘fifth column’.

    Partition was the only solution. The Arabs rejected this, and the rest is history.

    It is unfair to lay the whole blame of 1947/8 at the feet of the Jews. It was an inevitable tragedy and one day when there is peace I think even more Israelis will acknowledge this. As interesting as 1947/8 is (have read more books about it than I should have), it is largely irrelevant in resolving the current conflict: it cannot be reversed. Current impasse is due to unrealistic expectations of both sides, and yes the illegal settlements.

    BTW – I wasnt “splitting hairs”. You totally fibbed and you know it.

  12. Enough Said Enough Said 7 June 2013

    @Brian

    Here are the same maps recording Palestinian land loss from 1947 to present, what do Wikipedia say about this web site?

    “A Synopsis of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”
    http://www.ifamericansknew.org/download/synopsis.pdf

    :-)

  13. Brian Brian 8 June 2013

    @ Enough Said

    Have already said i dont support settlements in the WB. But the article you sent is only one half of a long complicated story. there is nothing in there about fact thats Pals stupidly rejected Partition in 1947 and would have had a much bigger state than the one they might one day get had they not taken up arms. The bit about Barak’s offer being inadequate is an opinion, not based on fact.

    Whats illuminating is the unrealistic and frankly disturbing views of the authors of the site which speaks volumes about their objectivity. See the following reported on wiki

    “The organization published a handout defending Helen Thomas’s comments when she contended that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to “Germany, Poland, America, and everywhere else.”

    If thats their solution, then they are plain bonkers …

    It gets weirder….

    “an article by Alison Weir… defends the unsubstantiated and implausible claims made by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet about Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinians in Gaza to harvest their organs. Weir implied, with no evidence, that Israel is at the centre of international organ smuggling. She then explicitly argued that the medieval “blood libel” – that Jews kill Christian children – has a basis in fact.”

    If you get your info from folks with these sort of crazy beliefs, then I don’t need to know much more…

    All the best.

  14. Enough Said Enough Said 8 June 2013

    @Brian

    Israel pretends to talk peace but makes it impossible. The best thing that could ever happen is for the US to withdraw its financial and military support for Israel. They will soon be forced to negotiate with the Palestinians.

  15. Enough Said Enough Said 10 June 2013

    @Brian

    Do you deny the validity of those four maps I posted (from different sources) on the loss of Palestinian land between 1947 and 2000? Lets stop knocking everyone you can and answer a direct question?

  16. Jessop Jessop 24 June 2013

    Whether you are Jew, Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever, that piece of Earth is God’s chosen land for past, present and future action until the Final Judgment of all beings when all will give account for what he or she has done, good or bad, here on this Earth. There truly will be no escape, so tread carefully now while you have opportunity. And note, please, that it is the Messiah promised to the jews that will have the final say, not the Jews, not the Arabs, not BDS, but Christ (Messiah) of God.

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