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July 16, 2015 4:05 pm

Pro-Palestinian Group in South Africa Suspends Members for Visiting Israel

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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Israeli flags and Muslim minarets in Jerusalem's Old City. Photo: Dave Bender

South African student leaders were suspended for traveling to Israel. Photo: Dave Bender

A pro-Palestinian student group in South Africa temporarily suspended some of its members who traveled to Israel with an 18-member delegation of young leaders, the organization said on Tuesday.

The South African Students Congress (SASCO) accused the members of participating in an “Israel propaganda trip,” and claimed the intention of the visit was to receive an “unbalanced perspective” on the Israeli-Arab conflict. They group expressed grave concern over attempts by the “Zionist lobby” to wage “a counter offensive to our ongoing solidarity campaigns with the oppressed people of Palestine.”

SASCO, which promotes the boycott of Israel, said the trip was an attempt to embarrass it through its members’ participation. They claimed the tour tainted the name of their organization and put it into “disrepute.” The visit to Israel was “crossing the picket line,” the group said.

“We wish to send a clear message to our members that as an internationalist organization, we will never accept that in our name our members contradict our standing positions,” a statement said. “The oppression of the people of Palestine by apartheid Israel is no different if not worse than our own oppression. It would be an indictment on our part if we do not take action.”

The delegation of student leaders traveled to Israel on July 4 and returned to South Africa on Saturday. The trip was organized by the South Africa Israel Forum.

SASCO Secretary General Luzuko Buku claimed its members were advised against going on the trip, but went nonetheless. “They knew they would be suspended when they created this crazy offence,” said Buko, according to the local publication News 24.

Dan Brotman, the director of the South Africa Israel Forum, told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper that the goal of the trip was “not to make [the students] pro-Israel, but to expose them to a narrative they really don’t hear in South Africa.”

The suspended SASCO members announced in a joint statement on Thursday that they had visited the Jewish State in a “personal capacity” so they could learn “more about the reality of the situation and understand the positions of both countries.”

“This trip was a success and all delegates have different opinions on this conflict as a result of our experiences with both people of Palestine and Israel, and thus we are more determined that through our findings there might actually be light for a solution towards the ongoing war,” they said.

The young leaders also mentioned that there have been false claims about them receiving gifts and money for participating in the trip. They requested privacy in order to consider their findings from the trip.

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  • Lynne T

    allegedly the members were offered 40,000 rand to not go on the trip. Bassem Eid spoke with them when they arrived in East Jerusalem and says except for three members of the tour, they all liked Bassem (ie: his views opposing BDS).

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    ZA is slowly cutting its own throat. Sadly ZA Jews are some of the most deeply embedded in their own country. They’ve had ample opportunity and warning to prepare to leave a country that’s generally beginning to implode. If they don’t, well that’s on them. But there will come a time when the ANC ethnically cleanses them.

    • mbrj

      DREAM ON! Ain’t happenin’. The CREATOR is on our side…always was, always will be. Read ’em and WEEP!

  • Joseph Feld

    In which free country do members of a student congress need permission to visit Israel? Or get suspended for visiting Israel? SASCO sounds like the South African equivalent of the NUS [National Union of Students] in the UK. SASCO sounds like something out of the Soviet Union, and SASCO should be investigated.

  • Chebat

    Let’s imagine one moment that a pro-Israel organization would have suspended a member because s/he would have visited Ramallah. What a scandal in the media! In that case, absolute silence…this silence says so much about the constant bias of media.

  • SASCO knows the truth is dangerous. It needs to act speedily to obscure it.

  • judithg

    south africa. now, just another african hellhole. how proud they must be.

    • Russell Fig

      You are whrong South Africa is a thriving democracy with problems. Look how an unequal situation created by Apartheid had been soved through Peaceful negation.

  • Yale

    The leaders of SASCO ar obviously concerned that exposure to the truth will undermine the power of their organization.

  • art

    Good to see open inquiring minds seeking truth. What an ugly anti Jew world. Remember when we were told if Israel took the high road and signed on with Oslo anti semitism would disappear, or if we left southern Lebanon, or the gaza all would be love and peace. Fortunately, we now have Obama to point the anti semites to their next attack on us

  • zadimel

    Well, from the point of view of those pro-Palestinian students, there are only two thoughts: the destruction of the Jewish State and completion of the Nazi agenda.