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April 17, 2014 11:34 am

The Steady Rise of African Zionism

avatar by Rolene Marks

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African Zionists.

There is something quite remarkable happening on the African continent. A groundswell of love and support from African Christians for the State of Israel, forged in biblical ties and a mutual love of the land.

It is a relationship that has endured and survived political hardships. And at a time when Israel is feeling increasingly isolated, it is very welcome. Voices calling for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against the Jewish State grow louder around the world, but the ties binding us to Africa grow stronger.

It seems almost natural that African countries would seek to build bridges with Israel. Many countries have a historical and political trajectory that mirrors that of the Jewish State.

They share the same tragic pasts, having endured multiple wars and having struggled for independence against foreign powers who ruled their historical homelands.

Over the years, Israel has quietly gone about the business of tikkun olam – contributing to the economic growth and wellbeing of communities all over the continent. It is no secret that when it comes to groundbreaking technology, Israel is a world leader. From water purification and drip irrigation, to life-saving medical devices and hi-tech know-how that is empowering African countries to become economic players in the family of developing nations, Israel is contributing and sharing much needed skill sets. When the father of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl, envisioned a Jewish state, perhaps this is what he had in mind.

Agricultural Cooperation

On the southern tip of the continent, in South Africa, where despite a cooling of relations between Pretoria and Jerusalem, relationships are being built. South Africa and Israel share a similar history – both have emerged democratic and victorious after painful pasts. Both share similar agricultural and water challenges. Water shortages and the management of yields and farming output are areas where Israel has implemented many successful projects in Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa.

Israel is helping farmers in rural areas realize their potential and you can view the successes in this You Tube clip (in Sotho and English).

The invaluable help that Israel has given these rural farmers is not just in technical know-how, but also in marketing and business skills, which will help sustain these communities for time to come.

South African Friends of Israel

These relationships are not only built on agricultural or business cooperation. Founded in 2010, “South African Friends of Israel” (SAF) is described as a movement that “promotes inter-faith dialogue between the South African Jewish community and the broader community in the pursuit of ensuring a balanced view and a better appreciation of Israel by all South Africans.”

South Africa is of great strategic importance – not only is the country the economic powerhouse of Africa, but it also holds positions of power and decision-making on several international bodies, such as the Non-Aligned movement and African Union among others.

South Africa is also the country where Apartheid was both conceived and defeated. This is of extreme importance as the odious accusation that Israel is an Apartheid state and should be afforded the same treatment as South Africa. In civil society organizations, on university campuses, and with the week long festival of hate known as Apartheid Week that occurs every March around the world, this lie of Israel as being an Apartheid state is gaining momentum.

Members and supporters of SAFI play a vital role in disseminating the truth and dispelling the lies. In fact, they are amongst the most vocal and strong supporters of Israel and having experienced Apartheid, are the foremost authorities.

Members of SAFI and their supporters have come out in droves to march with and support Israel. Recently, an advocacy day was held in Johannesburg and was supported by many, including the African Christian Democratic Party, Africa for Israe, and others.

Hear South African Christians speak out for Israel and destroy the Apartheid analogy at this link.

Trees for Africa

South Africa is not the only country where relationships are being built. Situated on the west coast of Africa, the Ivory Coast enjoys strong bilateral relations with the Jewish State. Former President Felix Houphouet-Boigny was one of the first leaders of an African country to establish ties with the fledgling Jewish State, and then to re-establish relations after an Organisation of African Unity (OAU) boycott in solidarity with its Arab members in 1986.

It is not just government and industry that are investing in Africa. The Jewish National Fund (JNF/KKL), one of Israel’s foremost non-profit organizations, has been responsible for the planting of more than 240 million trees in the country since its inception, making the JNF a world leader in afforestation. In addition, JNF has built much needed dams and reservoirs and more than 1,000 parks.

JNF is perfectly positioned to help communities in Africa who face some of the environmental and water challenges that Israel does, and JNF is involved in a variety of projects on the continent.

In November 2013, representatives from JNF-KKL Belgium visited the West African state and were greeted by crowds of supporters, waving Israeli flags and showing their solidarity with the Jewish State. “It was so inspiring to see the amount of people who came to show their love for the State of Israel, to hear them singing so passionately and to feel their appreciation,” says JNF/KKL Belgian Emissary,Olivier Rafowicz. “Supporters  understand and support Zionism and this was evident in their commitment to the JNF and Israel.”

Jacob Benzino, President of JNF/KKL Belgium was also present and gave a blessing in Hebrew during the event.

The Ivory Coast is proof that in one of the least expected places in the world, support for Israel is strong.

Africa for Israel

Africa for Israel endeavours to unite Christians all over the continent “to provide a continental association through which every pro-Israel church, ministry, association or individual in Africa can unite, speak and act with one voice in support of Israel based on our common Judeo-Christian foundations.”

Africa for Israel has been successful in Nigeria and in Muslim-led Tanzania in galvanising support for the Jewish State. “Many African leaders are realising that transcending politics and looking for ways to improve the situation of the people in their countries is far more productive. Israel asks for nothing but is prepared to share technology and empower African citizens so that we do not lose vital skill sets,” says Luba Mayekiso, founder of Africa for Israel and a pro-Israel lobbyist.

“Politicians listen to numbers and many Christians feel that their silence on Israel has been misinterpreted. We have established relationships in Nigeria, Congo, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania who are very eager for us to stand together and have requested our assistance in providing them with the correct modern narrative about Israel.”

Africa for Israel’s Luba Mayekiso, explains why Africa will stand with Israel in this video.

The rise of pan-African Zionism is extremely heartening. The continent is fertile ground for building and investing in relationships. Shared ideology and the disseminating of skills contributes so much more to this proud continent than traditional politics. Theodore Herzl would be proud.

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  • Jonah Lissner
  • JSS

    If people disagree with Israeli policy, fine. I’m Jewish, but I am against all war and I feel for Palestinian civilians. That being said, the constant attack on Israel and all the Muslim atrocities around the world which are constantly ignored gets me. The Arabs kill and persecute the Palestinians in their own countries too! The gassed how many Kurds? How many children in Africa were raped by Muslims? In Sudan alone? Why isn’t there any protests about this? Why is it only the “evil Jews”…White Europeans and Arabs have taken over more countries and killed more people than anyone, yet they seem to be the same people standing up and screaming the loudest about our war? The irony really gets to me. Jews get blamed for EVERYTHING. Even when we’ve tried to help black Americans, some how we have some “agenda”, so even when we do good things, somehow they turn it into something bad. It is this constant hatred against why Israel exists in the first place. We get blamed, chased and killed for everything we do, good or bad. It gets to me sometimes to where, while I don’t agree with Israeli policy, I’m so sick of being treated as if I’m some evil being responsible for all the world’s evils. I’m so tired of it. How many conflicts are going on in the world right now? How many of those conflicts are in MUSLIM countries? Most of them.

  • Dave

    This article is crap. We all know Israel was the last govt. to support white South Africa.
    Black Jews are not welcome in Israel. Israel is trying to deport them back to Africa.
    To believe there are crowds of black Africans waving Israelis flags welcoming Israel to their country requires some photos.. I don’t believe it for a second..

    • MD

      Your information is incorrect Dave.
      The people being deported are not black Jews, they are regular illegal immigrants and every country deports people who are living there illegally!

    • Dave, you know that is not true. Thousands of Black Jews have relocated to Israel. They range from communities who have been Jewish since time immemorial to Black individuals who converted on their own. They are in the army, politics, private business etc.
      The Black people you refer to are not Jewish, but seeking to stay in Israel as Refugees. They could as easily been seeking Refugee Status in Zambia or Germany. For you to use their plight as a stick to beat the State of Israel with is simply insincere.

  • DovidM

    While signs of support are important to note, Hamas has been active for years in spreading money around to sub-Saharan African politicians to buy their support.

    • Kris Kristian

      This has been happening all over the world. Nothing new.Hamas and every other Islamic state has been giving them money to convert to islam.

      The African Christians in the African continent have been slaughtered and persecuted by the Muslims in every African state. That is an ongoing fact.

      They have been forced to convert to Islam , OR ELSE.

      The African Christians know that the only people on earth who support them and help them, are the Jews and Israel. And israel is called an apartheid racisit state.
      Every Islamic country is really racist and practices apartheid. NOT ISRAEL.
      Thousands are fleeing their countries because of Islamic murder.
      They travel for hundreds of miles thru the deserts, to reach Israel. That is, if they have not ben murdered by the Muslims on the way.
      The only country to give them somewhere to escape the Muslims is Israel. Egypt, an Islamic state closed the doors on these unfortunate people.
      Many Jews were in serious trouble in the old Aparheid state of South Africa, for trying to stop the apartheid.
      But, unfortunately, in South Africa today, the black ANC majority, of which many are Muslims iun governemt are totally anti Semitic and anti Israel

      They atre even calling for Israel to release every palestinian murderer, no matter how many Jewish men, swomen, children and babies they murderered.
      They are even calling for those who have been given 5 life sentences for multi murders of Jews, which these terrorist supporters call “political” prisoners, but they refuse to release a man who murdered Chris Hani, a communist., even though this killer is dying of cancer.
      They are calling for the release among others of Barghuti, who is serving 5 life sentences, because those who murdered Israelis are “political” prisoners.

      Wake up world. Before you will have the Islamic knife at your throat to ‘convert or else”

  • Sonia Willats

    Thank you, Rolene,for this information. As someone who grew up in SA hating apartheid, but who also has lived in Israel, I would be very glad to be involved in pro-Israel advocacy, and in refuting the lie that Israel is an apartheid state. Thank you for the links. It is wonderful to know that so much positive action is in process to counter-act the lies.

    • David Abel

      Sonia – for Israel advocacy in South Africa, contact Luba and Ncedi Mayekiso of “Africa For Israel Christian Coalition” (AFICC);; 600,000 SA Christians already standing with Israel – potential 10 million more; developing contacts with similar huge Christian groups all over the African continent.

  • The Pessah Hagada proved that Israelites lived in Egypt for 400 years at least. Thus all Jews are AFRICANS. Take notice you African American Jews….

  • Beatrix

    This is how Jews hoped the American Civil Rights movement would turn out until it was taken over by the black Muslims. MLK was such a great man, probably the greatest American in the 20th century, and he always retained his friendship with the Jews.

  • Eric R.

    As I recall when Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (that has got to be the most memorable name of a head of state since Ruud Luubers) visited Israel, something like 2000 Igbo Christians made a pilgrimage as part of the trip.

    Anyway – so long as the Islamic world insists on being brutal to Christians, they will only turn more of them into supporters of Israel.

    • Kris Kristian

      From your mouth, to G-D’s ears.

      Why are the Christian narions and various Christian organisations so full of hate of Jews and Israel?
      There are a total of 14 million Jews over the whole world.
      There are 1.5 BILLION Muslims with hundreds of millions in Arab/Islamic states.

      So, who need 14 million, when there are hundreds of millions you can do business with?


      The hundreds of millions Arab?Muslims, dictate to the world. DO AS WE SAY, OR WE DO NOT BUY FROM YOU.

      Condemn Israel for all the evil that we do, and blame Israel.

      And Jewish lives are cheap.