South Africa's ruling ANC 'actively participating' in Israel Apartheid Week

The African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party, is “actively participating” in the 14th annual Israel Apartheid Week to express solidarity with the “heroic people of Palestine” and because it is “particularly concerned by the increased targeting of Palestinian children by the government of Israel,” the ruling party announced Wednesday.

An official ANC statement singled out the case of Ahed Tamimi, the 17-year-old Palestinian girl who was filmed in December slapping an IDF soldier outside her home in the West Bank village of Nebi Saleh.

Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi (C) attends a hearing at the Ofer military court in the West Bank on January 1, 2018. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

Tamimi, who has since become an international icon for the Palestinian cause, is being held behind bars until the end of court proceedings against her.

“The case of the 17-year-old imprisoned Ahed Tamimi is an example of the extreme and unacceptable abuse of child rights, human rights and international law by the Israeli government,” the ANC charged.

Apparently referring to the Israeli government’s plan to deport thousands of African asylum seekers who entered Israel illegally, the announcement also said that the ANC viewed with “great concern” what it called “the increased Israeli racism against Africans,” adding that such “oppressive tendencies” confirmed the importance of a December 2017 ANC conference resolution for the “immediate and unconditional downgrade of the South African Embassy in Israel to a liaison office.”

It was unclear whether the resolution — condemned by the country’s Jewish Board of Deputies at the time — would be implemented by the government in Pretoria.

The statement concluded that with the participation of more than 100 South African organizations, this year’s Apartheid Week will be “one of the best examples of South Africa’s unity in diversity and the vibrancy of our civil society.”

The worldwide event, which kicked off on February 19 and ends on April 17, seeks to build support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

In January, South Africa accused Israel of being the world’s only apartheid state, triggering an angry Israeli reaction.

At a standard review of Israel’s human rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva Tuesday, a South African official said the term formerly used to describe black disenfranchisement in South Africa could now be applied to Israel because of its policies toward the Palestinians and other non-Jews.

South Africa itself was an apartheid regime between 1948 and 1991. The word, from the Afrikaans, was generally only used to specifically denote South Africa’s racial separation under white minority rule, but it has seeped into criticism of the Jewish state with increasingly regularity in recent years.

Israel has long bristled at use of the term to describe Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, and officials regularly point out differences between South Africa’s policies and Israel’s, dismissing use of the word as calumny meant to defame the Jewish state.

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