Cape Town, 13 December 2017: The final status of Jerusalem has always been one of the most difficult and sensitive questions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Muslim Judicial Council (MJCSA) and Al-Quds (AQSA) has planned a protest march in Cape Town in reaction to US President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday that his country was recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that it intended to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the city.
Section 17 of the South African Constitution says that everybody has the right to protest, peacefully and unarmed. And we know that this right is closely linked to other political rights in the Constitution, including freedom of expression and freedom of association.
To this point, the protestors are free to exercise their rights, but we caution that when a person conflates Jews, Israelis, and the Israeli government, it is antisemitic. When all Jews and all Israelis are held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government, it is antisemitic. When Jews would be denied the right to self-determination accorded to all other peoples, it is antisemitic. In the past, protesters at these marches have used language and chanted words such as “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea,” which appropriately interpreted by most people as a call for the eradication of Israel – and this is antisemitic.
As the South African Jewish Board of Deputies – Cape Council (SAJBD Cape), we believe that it is the collective responsibility of activists and organizers across the ideological spectrum to educate themselves and be informed.
The SAJBD Cape supports our government’s sentiments that ‘the principles of a two-state solution based on peaceful coexistence between the peoples of Israel and Palestine’ will be the long-lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestine issue. We believe that the South African government, now more than ever, has a unique role to play in facilitating this constructive dialogue to restart the peace process.
We are encouraged that this commitment was evident from the ANC NEC Subcommittee on International Relations at their press conference on the 6 December 2017, where they reconfirmed that the ANC will engage both Israelis and Palestinians, to ensure that they come together, united, to solve their problems, and find a long-lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.