By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK | 10 October 2023 (IDN) — Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba ruffled a few feathers when he released a decision passed by the South African church ruling body that declared Israel an apartheid state.
The decision reads in part: “As people of faith who are distressed by the pain of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza—and who long for security and a just peace for both Palestine and Israel—we can no longer ignore the realities on the ground.”
“We are opposed not to the Jewish people but to the policies of Israeli governments, which are becoming ever more extreme. South Africans must acknowledge that Israeli policies towards Palestinians are a carbon copy of the apartheid-era policies of South Africa or risk becoming complicit in the subjugation of Palestinians, Makgoba said.
The resolution passed last month by the Provincial Standing Committee on Israel/Palestine is published on the church website.
Makgoba continued: “Our hearts ache for our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine… People of all faiths in South Africa deeply understand what it is to live under oppression.”
“When Black South Africans who have lived under apartheid visit Israel, the parallels to that system are impossible to ignore. If we stand by and keep quiet, we will be complicit in the continuing oppression of the Palestinians,” Makgoba added.
While the South African Zionist Organization lashed out at the resolution, with its chairperson calling it “appalling” and “antisemitic,” other groups including the Palestine Solidarity Committee and South African Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Coalition (BDS), welcomed the decision.
The BDS coalition praised the Anglican Church for not only calling out Israeli apartheid but also taking action. “The Church will be joining millions of people around the world in a global anti-apartheid movement and participating in the international anti-apartheid conference for Palestine to be held in South Africa, now scheduled for May 2024,” the group said.
Not all church groups agree with linking Israel to apartheid. The World Council of Churches based in Switzerland has declined to use the term ‘apartheid’, with some members calling the description “inappropriate, unhelpful and painful.”e
Journey of justice and peace
Meanwhile, WCC member churches are called to “continue to wrestle” with the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians and work together on the journey of justice and peace.
Also rejecting the expression “Israeli apartheid” is the UK Labor Party in literature prepared for its upcoming conference on 10 October. A fringe meeting is scheduled titled “Justice for Palestine: End Apartheid.”
Last year, the South African government expressed concern that Israel’s continued occupation of “significant portions of the West Bank” and the development of new settlements there “are glaring examples of violations of international law” as the long-running Israel-Palestine conflict goes on.
“The Palestinian narrative evokes experiences of South Africa’s own history of racial segregation and oppression,” Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s minister of international relations and cooperation, said at the second meeting of the Palestinian Heads of Mission in Africa.
“Israeli authorities must be held accountable for committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians,” Amnesty International wrote in a 278-page report compiled over a period of four years. “(Our) investigation details how Israel enforces a system of oppression and domination against the Palestinian people wherever it controls their rights.”
The London-based rights group joins Human Rights Watch and the Israeli rights group B’Tselem in linking Israel to apartheid within its borders and in the occupied territories.
The report, titled “Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity,” reveals the true extent of Israel’s apartheid regime, Amnesty continued. “Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself, Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights.”
They concluded: “We found that Israel’s cruel policies of segregation, dispossession and exclusion across all territories under its control clearly amount to apartheid. The international community has an obligation to act,” signed Agnes Callamard, Amnesty Int’l’s Secretary General.
Their findings seek to redefine the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a struggle for equal rights rather than a territorial dispute. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo source: Amnesty International
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