Below is an interview Political Analysis South Africa’s Stephanie Naidoo had with Mr Klaas Mokgomole, former Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activist, and member of Africans for Peace, on the ANC proposal to downgrade, or shutdown, the South African Embassy in Israel.
The ANC has proposed the downgrade of the SA Embassy in Israel. What is your response, and indeed, what are your concerns?
A downgrade is leading us in a wrong direction. As a country we need to be promoting ways to advance dialogue. A downgrade is actually leading to the opposite direction. How are we going to be part of the mediators, while we are already taking a side? South Africa should be working to create a good relationship with Israel instead of pushing it away. This is a stage to negotiate, not a stage to be downgrading or even boycotting. All these things are holding us back and are making it difficult to fix the issues in the Middle East and arrive at peace.
What do you think will be the implications for the community, in religious and other aspects?
This downgrade is going to make it difficult for the South African religious leaders and believers to visit Israel. Just imagine a South African losing a passport while in Israel; what is going to happen to that person? Now, South Africans are going to be limited in visiting the holiest sites on Earth.
In your opinion, how could South Africa contribute meaningfully towards peace and peace brokering between Israel and Palestine?
South Africa should help in bringing the two parties to the negotiation table. This is what other countries did during apartheid. They never excluded any party form negotiating. South Africa can play a good role by bring the parties together, and having them to reach a reasonable consensus.
Is there anything that you would like to add on behalf of Africans for Peace?
Africans for Peace has been working hard in making sure that we educate the South African community about the issues in the Middle East. We believe that now is the time for peace in the Middle East, and every step we take should be about bringing about peace. Africans for Peace would like to see both the Israelis and Palestinians, sitting in one room, negotiating. This will be beneficial for their future and their children. Africans for Peace is against all of these organisations that are not concerned about the advancement of dialogue, and instead preach hate and division.