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Commentary :: Human Rights
BDS Breakthrough
21 Dec 2012
BDS Breakthrough

by Stephen Lendman

The Global BDS (Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions) movement is one of the most important initiatives challenging Israeli lawlessness, occupation harshness, apartheid, and viciousness.

In July 2005, a coalition of 171 Palestinian Civil Society organizations created it to continue until Israel complies with international law and universal human rights principles.

At issue is long denied justice for occupied Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinian diaspora refugees. Important victories came earlier.

On December 20, a historic one occurred. The ruling South African National Congress (ANC) voted to support BDS. It's "unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel."

Thursday's vote followed ANC's November International Solidarity Conference. Delegates agreed to back BDS.

An October Tshwane declaration "Reiterated its support for Palestinian aspirations for an independent state including the full membership of the UN."

It also "called on the UN Security Council to show leadership in halting the expansion of Israeli settlement and the harassment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails."

It urged civil society BDS support.

ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete calls Israel "far worse than Apartheid South Africa." He told attending delegates. They responded with resounding applause.

BDS South Africa's Mbuyiseni Ndlozi praised ANC's decision. It supports "the Palestinian BDS call." Doing so perhaps increases chances of other countries following suit. It's long overdue.

Ndlozi called Thursday's announcement major. It represents "by far the most authoritative (BDS) endorsement. ANC's National Conference is its "highest decision making body."

Ndlozi added that "Israeli racism and xenophobia against Africans is shared and even encouraged by Israeli politicians including the Israeli prime minster, Benjamin Netanyahu."

He said if "we don't stop their entry, the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000 and threaten our national identity."

Netanyahu is a white supremacist. He's a notorious racist. He demeans non-Jews. He viciously targets Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.

A separate ANC resolution condemned harsh African immigrant crackdowns.

"The ANC abhors the recent Israeli state-sponsored xenophobic attacks and deportation of Africans and requests that this matter should be escalated to the African Union," it said.

Challenging Israel economically, politically, and culturally over time gets results. Major ones enough to matter. Doing so brings Palestinian liberation closer.

South Africa may, in fact, expel Israel's envoy. No decision so far was taken. Privately, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and BRIC country members are being lobbied.

ANC leaders expressed concern about Security Council inaction. At issue is Washington's obstructionism. Longstanding US support assures measures harming Israel don't pass.

Passage makes them legally binding. Cutting that gordian knot remain key. One day perhaps success awaits. Every BDS victory brings it closer.

ANC delegates called on "all South Africans to support the programs and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel to engage with the Palestinian people to reach a just solution."

South African BDS activists spent months trying to enlist ANC support. They got Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies on board. He introduced legislation to force importers to label Occupied Territory produced products.

ANC's cabinet approved labeling them "Made in Israel."

South African Zionist dark forces challenge doing so in court.

ANC members have good relations with Jews. At issue is Israeli government lawlessness and longstanding Palestinian persecution.

South Africa's Jewish Board of Deputies national director, Wendy Kahn, denounced Davies' legislation. She condemned efforts to target Israel.

Other deputies preferred to remain unnamed. They lobbied to prevent BDS support. Failed efforts were conducted quietly.

Last Sunday, South Africa's chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein, ran a front page Johannesburg Sunday Times ad.

It's South Africa's largest circulation broadsheet. Ad content was disingenuous in tone. It called on ANC conference delegates not to blame Israel for decades of Palestinian conflict. It urged "peaceful negotiations." It said:

"There is talk of a motion being considered for the ANC conference in Mangaung, condemning only Israel for the current conflict in the Holy Land."

"Such a motion will pit people of different faiths in the ANC against each other and further heighten tensions between South Africans of all faiths during a time when we need to come together in the season of peace."

Ahead of Thursday's vote, an unnamed Jewish community leader said "you can't fight this sort of thing in open letters in the newspapers."

"In the present climate, if there's (an ANC delegate) vote about Israelis and Palestinians….we're going to get whacked six-love, six-love, and six-love."

His tennis analogy turned out accurate. There never was any doubt.

A Final Comment

Following the ANC delegate vote, BDS South Africa's press release said in part:

"South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), at its 53rd National Conference, reaffirmed a resolution supporting the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign."

"ANC's October International Solidarity Conference (ISC) (endorsed) a resolution on BDS." A steering committee was established "to implement ISC resolutions."

ANC delegates "adopted resolution 35(g) that specifically called for all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel to engage with the Palestinian people to reach a just solution."

Resolution 35(j) was affirmed. It says "The ANC abhors the recent Israeli state-sponsored xenophobic attacks and deportation of Africans and request that this matter should be escalated to the African Union."

ANC delegates added more. They adopted resolution 35c. It states that "The ANC is unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel."

Progress comes largely in baby steps. Thursday's achievement was major.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen (at)

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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