It was reported in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post that “the Public Diplomacy Ministry [in Israel] plans to send 100 Israelis – abroad to represent and defend the state during [the upcoming] Israeli Apartheid Week.” South Africa, and Johannesburg and Cape Town in particular, have been targeted by the Israeli PR delegation.
According to the Jerusalem Post the participants of the Israeli “mission” have all “undergone several weeks of training in the Public Diplomacy Ministry” and will include settlers and “experts in national security”.
The Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy, Yuli Edelstein, said that “the answer” to initiatives such as Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) and to delegitimization is “not to just give facts and data, but to bring Israel to them.” Edelstein further accused those organizing Israeli Apartheid Week of “hatred” and having the “disease” of ignorance.
The Israeli Apartheid Week South Africa Team (IAW South Africa Team) condemned the Israeli Ministry of Public Diplomacy’s attempts to undermine the upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week. Israel’s dispatch of propaganda is not new (the Israeli Public Diplomacy Ministry is often compared to Apartheid South Africa’s notorious Department of Information). However, the open aggression and arrogance of an official Israeli Minister, in his position as a Minister, is astonishing.
Sarah Boesak, an IAW organizer at the University of Cape Town reacted to the news: “We state unequivocally that our solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people comes not from ignorance but from our own experience of, and resistance to, Apartheid in this country.”
S’bu Mbambo, a member of the South African Students Congress (SASCO) wrote: “We as SASCO will not give in, as we are well informed of the conditions Israel puts on the Palestinians!”
“In fact, the comments by Yuli Edelstein show that Israel’s is the language of hatred,” commented Hussein Badat of Rhodes University, “we feel love and compassion for Palestinians and as South Africans we are in a privileged position to understand how important the love of freedom is”.
Also reacting to the accusation of being hateful, Durban-based IAW organizer, Iain Robinson, stated: “The defeat of Apartheid gave white South Africans their humanity back. IAW is also an attempt at assisting Israel and its citizens regain their rapidly diminishing humanity.”
The Israeli Apartheid Week Team, consists of 25 members stretching across South Africa and lists as partners: COSATU, SA Communist Party, SA Students Congress, Young Communist League of South Africa, SA Council of Churches EAPPI, the Tri-Continental Film Festival, BDS South Africa, the LGBTQ umbrella body Kaleidoscope, Kairos Southern Africa and several Palestine solidarity groups including the Coalition for a Free Palestine.
Not the first time SA has been targeted
This will not be the first time that Israel has targeted SA for such a propaganda delegation. Last year a 27 person Israeli PR delegation was sent to South African campuses to fix Israel’s “serious image problems”. At the time, a member of the Israeli delegation said: “We have to create some doubt in their [South African students’] minds.”
In a joint statement, the national representatives of the South African Union of Students (SAUS), the South African Student Congress (SASCO) and the Young Communist League (YCL) slammed the trip:
“Don’t patronize us! We lived apartheid, we suffered apartheid, we know what apartheid is, we recognise apartheid when we see it. And when we see Israel, we see a regime that practices apartheid. Israel’s image needs no changing; its policies do!”
About Israeli Apartheid Week
Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events (including rallies, lectures, cultural performances and film screenings) held in cities and campuses across the globe. IAW seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinians.
This year IAW will take place in over 100 cities, including 13 South African universities and towns. Some of the invited speakers for SA are: Minister of Education, Dr Blade Nzimande; General Secretary of COSATU, Zwelinzima Vavi; Rivonia trialist, Denis Goldberg; Robben Island prisoner, Ahmed Kathrada; ANC NEC member, Dr Pallo Jordan; South African struggle stalwart, Ronnie Kasrils; and public intellectual, Professor Steven Friedman.