South African Gov’t Official Threatens to Punish Students Who Visit Israel

Demonstrators step on the national flag during an anti-Israel protest in front of the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok last year. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Demonstrators step on the national flag during an anti-Israel protest in front of the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok last year. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Tensions between the ruling African National Congress party and the South African Jewish community rose this week after a senior government official threatened to punish students who visited Israel.

Obed Bapela, a deputy minister in President Jacob Zuma’s office, charged the students, who visited Israel recently under the auspices of the South Africa Israel Forum, with bringing the ANC into “disrepute” and said the party would “summon” them to an investigation.

Bapela said Israel was “offering free trips and holidays to embarrass the ANC,” adding that it was a “campaign by Israel to distort our stand on Palestine. We have a clear position that supports Palestinian freedom.

No leader of the ANC in a private capacity or for the party will visit Israel. It will be putting the ANC in disrepute.”

No official ban has been placed on members of the government or ANC traveling to Israel.

The director of the forum told Israeli media that the students “were under enormous pressure not to come or received threats over being kicked out of their political parties.”

Both the South African Zionist Federation the Jewish Board of Deputies responded harshly to Bapela, calling his statement an “uncalled for attack” and stating that it was “deeply disturbing that a member of the South African government should condemn and threaten to punish those who have simply exercised their democratic right to freedom of thought and association.”

Click here to continue reading…

SOURCE: SAM SOKOL
JTA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s