The African National Congress government of South Africa has ordered its embassy in Israel to be immediately downgraded to a liaison office in protest against the Jewish state’s occupation of Palestinian territories—the height of irony given that South African Jews led the ANC’s “armed struggle” against the previous white government.
“In order to give our practical expression of support to the oppressed people of Palestine, the ANC has unanimously resolved to direct the SA government to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a liaison office,” a resolution passed this week at the party’s annual conference read.
“Coming to the [54th national] conference, we found unity in our solidarity with the Palestinians and support for such forms of sanctions against Israel,” ANC North West spokesperson Gerald Modise said.
“A clear message would be sent to Israel that there was a price to pay for its human rights abuses and violations of international law,” he said.
In their response, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) claimed that it was “discriminatory” of the ANC to take the step.
“We feel betrayed and disappointed,” a statement from the Jewish organizations said.
The reason why the Jews feel “betrayed and disappointed” is because that community provided the majority of the “white” leadership which ran the ANC while it was underground and fighting the previous white government.
The leader of the ANC’s armed wing was, for example, the Lithuanian Jew, Joe Slovo, who also doubled up as general secretary of the South African Communist Party. Slovo became a cabinet minister in the first ANC government under Nelson Mandela.
As reported in the Jewish Currents news service, Jews who were active in the ANC, or active supporters of it, mostly during and after the 1940s, included Rusty and Hilda Bernstein (he was acquitted in the 1963 Rivonia Trial that sent Nelson Mandela to Robben Island);
Harry Bloom, a novelist who was forced into exile in 1963;
Arthur Chaskalson, the Chief Justice of South Africa from 2001 to 2005, who was a member of the defense team in the Rivonia Trial;
Ruth First, a founder of the South African Communist Party and a member of the ANC who was acquitted in the Treason Trial of 1956–61 and arrested and banned repeatedly;
Bernard Friedman, a surgeon and businessman who founded the anti-apartheid Progressive Party;
Denis Goldberg, a technical officer in Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC, who was imprisoned for 22 years;
Arthur Goldreich, a painter whose farm was the site of the armed uprising planned by Mandela and which resulted in the infamous Rivonia Trial;
Richard Goldstone, who as a judge made the legislation that banned nonwhites from living in “whites only” areas almost unworkable by restricting evictions;
Joel Goodman Joffe, who represented Mandela at the Rivonia Trial;
James Kantor, another attorney and defendant in the Rivonia Trial;
Ron Kasrils, who joined the ANC in 1960, after the Sharpeville Massacre, and was a cabinet member in the post-apartheid government from 2004 to 2008;
Harry Schwarz, another attorney in the Rivonia Trial and the South African ambassador to the U.S. both before and after the abolition of apartheid;
Joe Slovo, Ruth First’s husband, who co-led Umkhonto we Sizwe (the “spear of the nation,” the ANC’s armed wing) and was Minister for Housing in Mandela’s government until he died in 1995;
Helen Suzman, the most outspoken and longest-serving “white” legislator opposed to apartheid;
Harold Hanson, whose speech on the last day of the Rivonia Trial helped convince the presiding judge to commute death sentences to life imprisonment;
Helen Zille, who worked as a far-left journalist and later became mayor of Cape Town; and
Albie Sachs, an anti-apartheid attorney who became a judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa under Mandela
The Jerusalem Post reported in 2011 that the postal services of Liberia, Gambia, and Sierra Leone simultaneously issued a set of three commemorative postal sheets “in memory of 12 Jews — men and women — who fought Apartheid and racism in Africa.”
“In the struggle against South African Apartheid, according to one of the commemorative sheets, it was estimated that Jews were overrepresented by 2,500 percent in proportion to the governing white population,” the Jerusalem Post continued, quoting the stamp descriptions on their own dedicated website.
“This stamp issue acknowledges the extraordinary sacrifices made by Jews to the liberation of their African brethren, and these stamps recognize some of the most significant contributors to global humanity in the 20th century,” reads the text on one of the commemorative sheets.
The Liberian set showed Helen Suzman, Eli Weinberg, Esther Barsel, and Hymie Barsel. The Sierra Leone set showed Yetta Barenblatt, Ray Alexander Simons, Baruch Hirson, and Norma Kitson, while the Gambian sheet showed Ruth First, Hilda Bernstein, Lionel “Rusty” Bernstein, and Ronald Segal.
Suzman (nee Gavronsky), the best known among them, was born to Lithuanian Jews, and was for decades the only representative in the South African parliament who opposed white rule, being elected by the Jewish suburb of Houghton in Johannesburg.
Weinberg, a Latvian Jew, was found guilty of being a member of the Central Committee of the underground South African Communist Party (SACP) and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
Lithuanian-born Jew Esther Barsel and her husband Hymie were among 15 accused in the 1956 Communist trial. Other accused included Barenblatt.
Latvian Jew Simons was a Communist Party activist who was detained repeatedly, and Hirson was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment for his Communist activism.
Kitson worked with the Johannesburg underground printing press of the ANC’s military wing and was exiled to London for her activities, but she continued there, carrying out continuous picketing of the South African embassy in Trafalgar Square.
First was a Communist Party of South Africa founder who was married to Slovo.
Hilda and Lionel Bernstein were arrested and charged together with Nelson Mandela for planning violent revolution.
Segal, a self-styled “Socialist journalist,” helped organize the economic boycott of South Africa.
South African Jew Howard Feldman, a minor media personality in South Africa, summed up the situation in an “open letter to the ANC from a South African Jew” published on December 22, 2017:
I don’t need to list the number of Jews who risked everything for the struggle. The numbers proportionately outweigh almost any other demographic. And whereas certainly many profited from apartheid, as did every white South African, many fought this.
The irony of the situation is marked: on the one hand, the South African Jews all opposed the racial policies of white-ruled South Africa, and even took up arms to oppose the white Afrikaners.
However, now that this very same policy of “non-racialism” is being applied to Israel—whose racial policies are far stricter and violently enforced than Apartheid South Africa’s ever was—these very same Jews are screaming “anti-Semitism.”
It is a superb example of Jewish hypocrisy—one rule for the Gentiles, and another rule for the Jews.