South Africa steps up support for Palestine

At the 2012 ANC Policy Conference the ruling party of South Africa undertook to “increase” their support for the plight of the Palestinian people and the boycott of Israel.  This position is supported by the former Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Alon Liel and by Avrum Burg, the former Speaker of Israel’s parliament.  But not all South Africans agree with this step.


Member of the ANC’s International Relations Commission (and special adviser to President Jacob Zuma) Lindiwe Zulu, reported at a media briefing that: “[T]he ANC would continue to support Palestine and [has] called for an increased boycott on Israeli products”.

The ANC’s long-standing position on Palestine is part of its broader progressive internationalism. It is increasingly clear that the ANC is not simply offering “generalized” support to the oppressed but chose to support specific things that will lend concrete solidarity and contribute toward peace:

  • With Swaziland, the ANC insisted that the Swazi government sign an MOU on “democratisation and unbanning of political parties”.
  • On Palestine, the ANC took measures that will ensure sufficient pressure is brought for a just and negotiated resolution – similar to the pressure, negotiations and solution in South Africa.

The complete ANC Policy Conference proposals will be released in due course by ANC’s Luthuli House. We look forward to the ANC strengthening its resolution on Palestine even further during the Mangaung conference in December.

In taking this position, together with the recent announcement by the Department of Trade & Industry to prevent the mislabelling of Israeli goods, the ANC is not acting alone, with support coming from surprising quarters:

  • The former Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Alon Liel, backed the boycott of Israeli products terming it a “wake-up call” as “such a non-violent wake-up call is needed” in Israel. Also, subsequent to Israel accusing the ANC and South Africa of racism due to SA’s position on Israel, Liel bravely broke ranks and defended South Africa: “The ANC, which toppled apartheid, is still ruling the country [and] to use that term, racism, for the government that toppled apartheid is very counterproductive.” 
  • Avrum Burg, the former Speaker of Israel’s parliament, recently wrote in the UK’s Independent Newspaper: “Even I – an Israeli – think Israeli settlement goods are not kosher…we need intervention from the outside…to tell Israel that it is impossible to be treated as ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’, while it is also the last colonial occupier in the Western world. It is not anti-Semitic.. to convey these messages.”
  • Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, personally thanked South Africa and also called on other countries to follow SA’s lead and boycott Israeli products.
  • Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the Palestinian BDS movement wrote in South Africa’s Mail&Guardian newspaper describing how other countries are closely following the ANC and South Africa. He explained how the Irish foreign minister, Eamon Gilmore, told a media briefing after a recent European Union (EU) foreign ministers’ meeting that Dublin might very soon be proposing a Europe-wide ban on Israeli products during its EU presidency in early 2013.
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu together with Zapiro, Zackie Achmat and several others endorsed a public petition supporting the South African government.

On the other spectrum, reactionary but marginal groups, like the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) together with the ACDP and IFP came out attacking the ANC and South African government. But this is back-firing with various South African bodies publicly challenging the right-wing groups’ “blind support for Israel”. For example, South African Christians slammed the ACDP’s “misguided” support for Israel (click here);  the South African Communist Party criticized the IFP’s support for Israel as “baseless” (click here); and, COSATU exposed how the SAZF is luring people by promising “free t-shirts and refreshments” to anyone that would attend their pro-Israel protest (click here).

Cape Town, 28 June 2012: A joint press conference supporting the correct labeling of products from the oPt, and speaking up against xenophobia in Israel. From left to right:
Sarah Boesak (BDS SA), Braam Hanekom (PASSOP), Marthie Momberg (Kairos SA), Terry Crawford-Browne (Palestinian Solidarity Group).

Cape Town, 28 June 2012; In front of the provincial legislative offices, handing our joint request to an ACDP representative.

The ACDP representative listening to our request.

Meanwhile, there are some major international divestments from Israel:

  • The global retirement fund, TIAA-CREF, dumped 72 million dollars of Caterpillar shares from its TISCX investment portfolio. Caterpillar is notorious for its supply of military bulldozers, amongst other equipment, to the Israeli regime.
  • Norway’s government-run pension fund, the largest pension fund in Europe, announced that it will divest all its shares from the Israeli real estate firm, Shikun Binui, that profits from Israel’s illegal activities. The Norwegian fund is worth $587 billion dollars, and this divestment decision will affect over one million dollars worth of Israeli shares.
  • The world renown African-American author, Alice Walker, refused the Israeli company, Yediot Books, from publishing her award-winning novel, ‘The Color Purple’. We salute Alice Walker’s moral consistency, for having opposed apartheid in South Africa and now also in Israel.


Support the South African government by signing the Avaaz petition  here.


One million signature campaign launched by Kairos SA


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town


Today Kairos Southern Africa and the African National Congress met to discuss the letter that Kairos SA offered to the ruling party at the occasion of the launch of its centenary celebrations. We are thankful for the opportunity of this engagement and believe that it helps nurture a necessary national conversation.

The Centenary celebration of any organization will elicit reflections on that organization. So it is with the ANC. Accordingly Kairos Southern Africa has offered this reflection with the hope that it will add to a necessary national conversation about the kind of future we wish to have.

The Church has historically played a significant role in the birth and life of the ANC. During the darkest days of our history and especially when the broad democratic movement was stifled and banned, it was the Churches that often stepped in and kept the dream of a non-racial, just, democratic and united South Africa alive.

The statement we handed to the ANC contains words of congratulations and gratitude as well as words of concern. These concerns are also disappointments since we expected more of a movement that fought for the best values of humanity and for liberation.

But we are also disappointed in ourselves and in the way we have disengaged with this new dispensation and how we have often not exuded hope. The message is therefore directed as much to us as it is to the ANC.

This letter we have handed over to the ANC therefore addresses both the Church and the ANC.  It asks if the South African dream of unity and dignity based on justice, peace and righteousness is unfolding in the country.  The letter confesses to instances where there have been shortcomings by  churches to live according to the values of a just, democratic culture.  It expresses concerns with several issues in the country; including among others the challenges of deepening inequality, service delivery and corruption.

The choice for us as South Africans is stark: either we choose life or we choose death. Either we choose reconciliation, justice and friendship or we choose conflict that will engulf us all. Either we choose greed or we choose to share.

We do not regard this letter as complete or perfect, but we hope that it conveys an ethos of constructive self-critique that will help us to refocus our energies on what we really want.  We believe that as in 1985 when some South African churches spoke up against apartheid, this moment too is a Kairos opportunity, one that may pass us by if we do not act now. It is a decisive moment that asks for our participation.  We pray for courage and transformation.

We welcome today’s meeting. We hope that it contributes to a widening of debate among all South Africans, especially the Churches, who have largely withdrawn from engagement with our unfolding democracy.

Accordingly, we launch the million signature campaign today to get the conversation going particularly amongst those who have been disconnected from the democracy. We think this will be one small, but not insignificant way that we can help to build social cohesion and to mobilize particularly the churches to take our responsibility for this society much more seriously than we have done up to now.

Kairos Southern Africa is committed to the values of justice, peace and righteousness.




Rev. Moss Nthla      +27 (0) 828098533,

Rev. Edwin Arrison: +27(0) 847351835,


Nearly 1000 citizens have already signed the letter.  All South Africans who can associate themselves with this message may endorse the letter with their signatures.

Also on 8 February and immediately before this press release, we met with the ANC and gave them our letter.

The Kairos SA delegation consisted of: Moss Ntlha, Edwin Arrison,  Joe Seoloane, Lunga Ka Siboto, Michael Weeder, Mike Deeb, Nkosikhulule Nyembezi, Denise Ackerman and myself.

The ANC delegation consisted of: Gwede Mantashe, Mathole Motshekga, Songezo Mjongile and Moferefere Lekoro Tsoana.  We were told that Baleka Mbete was one of the key people who insisted that this meeting should happen.

If you want to sign the Kairos SA letter to the ANC, simply send an e-mail to Edwin Arrison at
Please indicate if you are not a South African citizen (but you may still sign).

To read our letter, choose one of these links:


The shortened version: KAIROS SA WORD TO THE ANC_shortened version

About what led up to the media release and meeting.


A word to the ANC, in these times

“We are the  ones we have been waiting for”
(Alice Walker, Nobel prize winner)

It is time for us, the ordinary people, to speak up.
By doing so, we influence our reality.

I share this text with you as I have signed it.
If you are South African and 16 years or older, you may sign too.  All you need to do is email my colleague Rev Edwin Arrison

We know that the document has many flaws, but this is our starting point.
We hope you share in the ethos it conveys and we would love to have your feedback.



As we continue to celebrate the coming of the Word into the world (John 1: 1) and God made human, we, fellow South Africans and Christian theologians, now wish to pass these words on to the African National Congress, as it prepares to celebrate its centenary during 2012…

We do so in a spirit of appreciation and gratitude for you and in a spirit of true friendship, where we can both congratulate you and raise some concerns as friends, and pray that these celebrations will be appropriate and not lavish, especially given the levels of poverty and inequality in our country.

We do so, knowing that many members of the ANC are also part of the Christian community, and this document is therefore written for our collective reflection.

We also do so, knowing that many Christian leaders were involved in the formation and nurturing of the ANC over the years, and we therefore continue to feel a sense of responsibility for its existence and what it does. In 1912, the founders of the African National Congress dreamed of a different future for all the people of South Africa, where there would be no more coloniser and colonised, but where we would all be one: One people, one nation, one country!

They dreamed that the injustice that was being meted out to black South Africans by the colonisers would come to an end. We thank God that the colonial and apartheid systems have come to an end and a great effort has been made to better the lives of all South Africans, especially the poor.

Although there has been much progress in this regard, certain tensions and contradictions continue to militate against us fully achieving this dream. The effect of the 1913 Land Act, is largely still with us; the economic disparities are stuck with us; deep levels of poverty are staring at us.

In this year, we once again dream of a future of being one, united in our diversity. This unity needs to be based on justice, peace and righteousness. Let us use this year to once again dream this dream together.

To continue reading, click HERE

To read about the One Million Signature Campaign, click HERE.