A letter released by South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, on November 21st placed the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, as well as the stalemate in peace efforts, squarely on Israel’s shoulders. In the letter, which was issued by Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim, the ANC condemned the “barbarity of the Israeli Defence Force’s bombardment of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.” The letter than exhorts the “West to impress upon Israel that peace in the Middle East Region depends on their behaviour and attitude towards international law.”
On Monday the South African Zionist Federation released a statement condemning the letter, calling it “unambiguously one-sided” as well as saying, “the statement adopted an incendiary language typical of activist organizations or fringe radical groups.”
Mr. Ebrahim, the letter notes,”has consistently adopted a very conciliatory tone towards regimes in other Middle Eastern countries that, just by a sheer numerical count, have marred themselves with human rights violations that make the alleged crimes Mr. Ebrahim ascribes to Israel pale in comparison.
Mr. Ebrahim’s position on Syria [...] neither specifically condemns the atrocities perpetrated by the Assad regime nor calls for any measure against it, despite the more than 40,000 civilian deaths caused by the regime’s actions.”
The letter makes clear that the SAZF respects the ANC’s ” right to criticize the actions of the state of Israel” which “they have often exercised [...] in the past,” but that the “biased and emotional rhetoric and actions of Mr. Ebrahim cross the line.”