Talking Peace and Balance in Parliament

In September, local anti-Israel activists made a presentation to the International Relations and Cooperation Portfolio Committee in Parliament. It was, predictably, an emotive and grossly selective account of how Palestinian homes were lost during the 1948 War of Independence , with SA Jewry being portrayed as the villains who established a forest over a destroyed Arab village. Last Friday a delegation from the Jewish community, led by the SAJBD, was given an opportunity of responding in the same forum. Part of this necessarily consisted of responding to some of the more blatant accusations made against Israel and our community. However, we also took the opportunity to encourage the government’s efforts to continue engaging with both parties with a view to encouraging a negotiated solution to the Israel /Palestine question and to draw attention to how the confrontational, inflammatory tactics of anti-Israel radicals results only in polarisation and quite frequently open antisemitism in our country without making any  contribution whatsoever to advancing the prospects for peace. In adopting this position, we align ourselves with those working for a peaceful solution to the conflict, which includes our government, in contrast to those who dishonestly demonize one side while promoting the politics of boycott and disengagement in order to shut down any real constructive debate on the issues. 

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Enough of intimidation & blackmail against those who seek to exercise their basic Constitutional Rights

Earlier this year, the ANC repeatedly denounced artist DJ Black Coffee simply for exercising his democratic right to perform in Israel. Then civil society went for journalist Gareth Cliff, depicting him as a moral pariah for daring to put forward an alternate opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Now Dr Mpho Phalatse, MMC for the DA in Gauteng, has become the target of hysterical condemnation for having expressed support for Israel at a South African Friends of Israel conference on Sunday.  This is despite her subsequent clarification that she did so in her personal capacity.