Gaza: South Africa’s lack of solidarity a “national shame”

The South African government lags behind in its solidarity with Palestine because of pressure applied by the South African Zionist lobby. This inactivity is “a source of national shame” Kairos Southern Africa said at a press statement in Cape Town on 11 July 2014.


Several civil societies as well as the ANC Youth League tabled their positions and their appeal to the South African government to members of the local and the international press. The joint message was clear:

Any attempt to remain neutral in this kind of conflict is both futile and immoral. Neutrality enables the status quo of oppression to continue. It is a way of giving tacit support to the oppressor. We are not taking sides against the Israeli people, but we unequivocally reject the Israeli regime’s treatment of Palestinians. We want international law to be upheld. Our government must implement BDS actions. An insufficient response will prolong the suffering and the damage. All violence must stop with immediate effect.

Here is Kairos Southern Africa’s full statement:

PRESS RELEASE: Response to Gaza violence
Friday, 11 July 2014
11:00, Cape Town

Kairos Southern Africa believes that all lives have the same value, and that all violence is destructive. The current and ongoing situation between Israel and Palestine poses a critical test for the international community’s commitment to international law and human dignity. In this context, we hold the following position:

  1. The occupation of Palestine by Israel is the primary violent act. We condemn it absolutely. Israel’s widespread, ongoing, collective attack on the Palestinian people is a form of institutionalised, systemic violence practised in multiple ways on the besieged Gaza strip and occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank.
  2. The violent resistance by Hamas is understandable, but we do not support it. We do not believe that this violence represents the will of the majority of Palestinians, who ask for active non-violent resistance in the form of boycotts, divestment and sanctions.
  3. On 10 July, the Palestinian unity government appealed to the United Nations Security Council to enforce International Humanitarian Law.
  4. Many Israelis and the majority of the Palestinian people are exhausted by the ongoing struggle. They want an end to the unbearable and inhumane situation; and they want to live normal, secure and hopeful lives. Therefore, they are calling for help on their governments and the international community to end to the ongoing occupation.
  5. The South African government has failed to take tangible action in the form of support of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, because of pressure applied by the South African Zionist lobby, which insists on the South African government’s neutrality when it comes to Israel. As a result, South Africa now lags behind other countries in its solidarity with the oppressed in Palestine. We see this inactivity as a source of national shame. In the light of our history, we of all nations must actively help others who are systemically oppressed.

We call on the South African government to do what is honest and just, so that we can be honourable international citizens. We do not ask our government to issue more statements, but to implement boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and to take the actions called for in the Cape Town Declaration of 6 February 2014.

The South African government must:

  • Adhere to its legal obligation under the Rome Statute to set up a special court to deal with war crimes, deal expeditiously with the Gaza Docket and with South Africans serving in the Israeli Defence Force.
  • Adopt the HSRC report that found Israeli guilty of Apartheid, and present it to international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and the African Union.
  • Stop financial transactions with Israeli settlement companies, banks, and companies involved in the settlements.
  • Lobby for financial and other support in the global arena for the Palestinians for socioeconomic development after the end of the occupation.
  • Support Palestinian students as a concrete act of solidarity and ease entrance into South Africa for Palestinians.
  • Support health systems infrastructure in Gaza, in the West Bank and in refugee camps.
  • Support the Robben Island Declaration for the freedom of Marwan Barghouti and all Palestinian political prisoners.
  • Support the Palestinian-led call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions issued by the majority of Palestinians by implementing complete military, financial and political sanctions against Israel until it complies with all the applicable UN resolutions and International Law, and ends its occupation; and table this matter at both the African Union and the United Nations.
  • Encourage witness and solidarity visits such as the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) programme.
  • Build and strengthen an international diplomatic bloc in solidarity with the Palestinian people, starting with Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS).
  • Campaign for Israel to be suspended from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network.
  • Encourage and support Palestinian reconciliation efforts.


Kairos Southern Africa is an ecumenical voice on local and international issues of justice from within the broader Christian community. We are connected to Kairos movements worldwide that are all inspired by the liberation theology tabled in the 1985 South African Kairos document. This includes Kairos Palestine and its declaration of steadfast faith, hope and love from within the suffering of Palestinians.

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