Following the Solidarity Conference held in parliament on 6 February 2014, in support of the people of Palestine, Cuba and Western Sahara, the Zionist Federation has expressed its outrage at the clear tone and intent of the conference’s participants to demonise Israel.
According to the Zionist Federation (Cape Council), failure by this Conference to invite any official body of the Jewish Community and other voices sympathetic to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, to present a case in defence of Israel, or to be given the right to respond to accusations, is viewed with disdain and is not in keeping with the democratic rights enshrined in our South African Constitution. The content of the agenda, the emotive posters inciting passions against Israel and the wearing of Palestinian scarves in the Chamber, all combined, made Jews feel humiliated and uncomfortable.
Says Levitas “of great concern to the Jewish Community was the presence of Bongani Masuku, a front line activist calling for boycotts against Israel and found guilty by the Human Rights Court of anti-Semitic hate speech together with Fatima Hajaig, who was forced to resign from her position as Deputy Minister of International Cooperation after making anti-Semitic statements.”
Also present at the conference was Muhammed Desai, who is currently on record for justifying the chanting of the slogan “Shoot the Jew” by supporters of his organisation, which single-mindedly aims to delegitimize and destroy all Jewish rights to Israel and which is antithetical to trying to achieve a peace accord .
With the absence of the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish communal leadership, the Zionist Federation believes that the discussion around the Israeli-Palestinian question was framed as to provide an exclusive platform for anti-Israel activists.
“This reflects the premeditated agenda of the organizers and its findings are not only untrue and hurtful to Jews and many Christians alike, but unnecessarily divisive” says Levitas.
Although the declaration was not a declaration of the Portfolio Committee, its participants comprised members from most political parties.
“In addition to conveying our deepest outrage over what we regard as a flagrant abuse of the Parliamentary process, which allows all views to be heard and considered, we will be seeking clarity as to how it was allowed to come about and what implications, if any, it has for South Africa’s policy regarding the Middle East question and its relations with the State of Israel,” says Levitas.