My name is Ronnie Kasrils. I am a former Minister in the South African Government having served under both President Nelson Mandela and President Thabo Mbeki in the period 1994-2008. I was active in South Africa’s liberation struggle from 1960 and as a political exile supported the BDS campaign successfully waged by the international community against racist South Africa.
I am currently an active member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and, originating from a Jewish background, I am also a member of SA Jews for Palestine. I am a keen supporter of the BDS campaign, South Africa.
I have recently been informed that Israel’s Alternative Information Centre (AIC) has written to you requesting that the OGP review Israel’s membership on the basis of the Israeli government’s stance towards NGO’s critical of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and its treatment of Palestinians.
I unreservedly support this request by Israel’s AIC. Those of us who form part of the international Palestine solidarity movement are adamant that Israel should not be permitted to act with utter impunity. It is particularly concerning that Israel is turning to tactics used by the former Apartheid South African Government in its repression of speech, expression and activism.
Israel’s clampdown and threats to NGO’s that peacefully support the BDS Movement or are critical of its policies and measures of suppressing the Palestinian People are very similar to the suppression we faced during the struggle against Apartheid. I therefore wish to add my support to the submission made by the AIC as a matter of public interest, and confirm that the issues outlined in the AIC correspondence are a correct reflection of the brutal treatment by the Israeli regime of its own citizens and NGOs opposed to its policies. I base my understanding on a long study of the issues and visits to the region.
The threats against activists in Israel-Palestine are real and the obstacles which both Israeli and Palestinian activists critical of the Israeli state face, serve to undermine their rights to free speech, association, movement and organisation. . Israel is proving itself to be undemocratic and non-transparent.
These allegations are serious and the membership of a country that perpetrates such acts which are not consistent with the values of the Open Government Partnership and international law should be revoked or suspended.
We trust that you will consider AIC’s complaint and my letter of support in requesting the issue needs investigation.