Letter from progressive Israeli comrades belonging to “Boycott From Within”

 (11 JUNE 2015)

We are a group of Israeli citizens, active against our government’s policies of racism, occupation and apartheid.
We would like to denounce an attempted sanctions-busting junket organized by South African supporters  of  Israeli  apartheid.  This  deplorable  policy  resembles  1980s junkets  to  Apartheid South Africa organised by US and UK based groups which supported the racist Pretoria regime.

As Israeli citizens  living here and witnessing  the daily reality  of Israeli apartheid,  we do not welcome propaganda junkets such as the one organized by the South Africa Israel Forum together with the SA Zionist Federation and SA Friends of Israel.

This  initiative  merely  serves  to  cover-up  Israeli  crimes  and  undermine  the  growing  BDS campaign, which a growing number of human rights-minded South Africans, and even a growing number of conscientious Israeli citizens, support.

A reading of the list of venues and individuals the group is supposed to visit makes it perfectly clear  that  participants  will  be  taken  to  institutions  which  are  directly  complicit  in  the Israeli government crimes. For example:

1. Artist village in Aniam
The Aniam Artist village was established by the Jewish Agency in the illegally Israeli occupied Palestinian territory of the Golan Heights. The Jewish Agency  has played an active role in the displacement of the indigenous Palestinian population.

2. Gabriel Naddaf
Gabriel Naddaf is an Israeli priest who has been vocal in his support for the State of Israel. He has also proactively campaigned for Israeli Arab Christians to join the IDF which is an instrumental part  of  Israel’s  occupation.  Naddaf  has  been  vehemently   criticized  by  Israeli  Arabs  and Palestinians and has been excommunicated by the Orthodox Church Council. Naddaf has also campaigned for the recognition of a separate identity for Arab Christians in opposition to Arab Christian organisations such as Sabeel, Kairos and others. Naddaf is basically a tool of the Israeli Apartheid regime much as how Apartheid South Africa had used certain Bantustan leaders during the 1980s.

3. IDC Herzliya
IDC Herzliya has been operating a special propaganda center during Israel’s massacre in Gaza in the  summer  of  2014  (http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israel-student-union-sets- war-room-sell-gaza-massacre-facebook ) to counter international criticism of Israeli war crimes.

4 . Israel’s Gay and Lesbian Centre
Israel’s Gay and Lesbian Centre has been complicit in “pinkwashing” the Israeli occupation. By only concentrating on Israel’s attitude towards Israeli LGBTQ issues and completely ignoring the tangible issues of occupation and human rights abuses, it has used the LGBTQ cause to condone its  abuse  of  Palestinian  rights.  Renowned  activists  including  LGBTQ  identified  and  Jewish activists such as Sarah Schulman , Ashley Bohrer and Jasbir Puar have criticised the method of “pink washing” as a disservice to both LGBTQ struggle for justice and the Palestinian struggle for  justice.  There  are  several  other  Palestinian  LGBTQ  groups  such  as  AlQaws,  Palestinian Queers  for  BDS  have  previously  said:  “You  cannot  have  queer  liberation  while  apartheid, patriarchy, capitalism and other oppressions exist. It’s important to target the connections of these oppressive forces. Furthermore, pinkwashing is a strategy used by the Brand Israel campaign to garner  the support  of queers  in other  parts  of the world. It is simply  an attempt  to make the Zionist project more appealing to queer people. This is another iteration of a familiar and toxic colonial  fantasy  — that the colonizer  can provide  something  important  and necessary  that the colonized cannot possibly provide for themselves.  Pinkwashing  strips away our voices, history and agency, telling the world that Israel knows what is best for us. By targeting  pinkwashing we are reclaiming  our agency, history, voices and bodies, telling the world what we want and how to support us.”

5. Save a Child’s Heart
Saving  any  Child’s  Heart  is  a  worthy  deed.  However,  the  head  of  the  racist  SA  Zionist Federation,  Avrom  Krengel,  in  2009  referred  to  the  new  direction  of  the  SAZF’s  Israeli propaganda   work.   Krengel   specifically   identifies   “Save   A  Child’s   Heart”   as  one  Israeli propaganda device which is actually a highly politicized project of the SAZF’s Israel Advocacy team.

Bashar  Masri,  the  person  responsible  for  the  construction  of  Rawabi  city  in  the  Occupied Territories  has  been  condemned  by  Palestinian  civil  society  for  his  participation  in  Israeli conferences  (such  as  the  Israeli  High  Tech  Industry  Association  which  has  links  to  Israel’s industrial military complex) and his relationship with Israel’s government. Masri is also an active supporter and participant in the Israeli-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, an Israeli-established and  controlled  body  based  in  Tel  Aviv  designed  to  advance  the  economic  exploitation  of Palestinians and Palestinian resources under occupation. Masri has collaborated with many institutions and person belonging to the Israeli establishment that have and continue to support Israel’s occupation and aggression against the Palestinians. He has lost favour with organised Palestinian civil society.

7. Michael Levine Centre
The Lone Soldier Centre in memory of Michael Levine is an institution which provides support to “lone soldiers” of the IDF before, during, and after their service in the IDF. The IDF is guilty of various well documented war crimes and crimes against humanity including the killing of more than 2000 Palestinians (500 children) last year in Gaza.

8. Meeting with IDF soldiers
IDF soldiers are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses against Palestinians. Their actions contribute to the criminal nature of this army as the army of occupation and apartheid. IDF  soldiers  are  the  footmen  who  ensure  that  Israel’s  apartheid  policies  and  occupation  is maintained. IDF soldiers are also responsible for harassing, assaulting and victimising Palestinian men,  women  and  children.  They  play  a  central  role  in  maintaining  the  Israeli  settlement infrastructure in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It should go without saying that a meeting with IDF soldiers  legitimizes  the criminal  nature  of this army as the army of occupation and apartheid.

9 . Hebrew University
The Hebrew University in Jerusalem has been complicit in the Gaza massacre (http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-universities-lend-support-gaza-massacre . The university  has also  set police on students protesting against military service

:  http://electronicintifada.net/content/hebrew-university-sets-police-students-protesting-army- recruitment/13379. In addition, the university’s  facilities have been illegally built on occupied territory  in  occupied  East  Jerusalem  http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/hundreds- academicscall-boycott-hebrewuniversityconference2014 ). The latter link serves as proof that conscientious people all over the world are keeping note of the university’s violations of human rights and refusing to take part in its activities(.

10 . Pastor Khoury from 1st Baptist Church of Bethlehem.
Pastor Khoury is a member of Holy Land Missions which condones Israel’s acts of occupation. Holy Land Missions is also not a signatory to the revolutionary  Kairos document which is the single most important Christian view and position on the Israeli occupation. Kairos Palestine was inspired by the revolutionary South African Kairos document. We would like to stress that even during  Apartheid  in  South  Africa  there  were  some  progressive  churches  like  St.  Georges Cathedral and some reactionary churches like the Dutch Reformed Church. Likewise in Palestine- Israel,  the vast majority  of progressive  Palestinian  churches  and church  organisations  will be ignored by the SA-Israel Forum, SA Zionist Federation and SA Friends of Israel because of these churches support for BDS. The SA-Israel Forum, SA Zionist Federation and SA Friends of Israel will only expose delegates to reactionaries.

11 . Promised Land Tours
Promised Land Tours is a travel entity that organised tours to Israel as part of a whitewashing campaign to present Israel as a democratic society (although Israel is a democratic-non  society with various well documented  forms of racism and Apartheid,  see South African HSRC 2009 report detailing Israel’s Apartheid practices). In none of its tours does it provide visitors with a glimpse of the harsh realities that Palestinians suffer on a daily basis due to Israel’s continued occupation and unequal treatment of people within Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

We call on South African citizens not to lend support and legitimacy to Israeli apartheid and its institutions. Let us work together for the end of apartheid in Israel/Palestine,  just like in South Africa more than 20 years ago.

If you wish to come to our land please, come with the support and endorsement of the BDS movement and as a guest of theirs, not  assanctions busting groups like the SA Zionist Federation, SA Israel Forum, SA Friends of Israel.


Ofer Nieman and Tali Shapiro on behalf of
Israeli citizens for BDS
Boycott!  Supporting  the  Palestinian  BDS  Call  from  Within  (Aka   Boycott  from  Within)


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