By Peter L Rothholz/JNS.org
LOS ANGELES–Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, a member of the South
African Parliament and founder of the African Christian Democratic Party
(ACDP), sees irony in how the anti-Israel attitudes of his country’s mainstream
politicians are depriving them of benefits the Jewish state could bring them.
Click photo to download. Caption: Ben Swartz of the South African Zionist Federation (with microphone) thanks Reverend Kenneth Meshoe (second from right), a parliament member, for his efforts on behalf of the Jewish community at last June’s “Africans for Israel” march. Credit: Courtesy Esther Meshoe.
“African politicians who have contaminated water will
boycott Israel, whose technology and whose scientists could help bring clean
water to the many thousands of Africans who now don’t have it and need it
desperately,” Meshoe said in an interview with JNS.org.
Meshoe–whose recent U.S. tour included lectures before
Jewish and Christian audiences in New York, Florida, Washington, D.C., and
California–founded the ACDP in 1993. The party currently has three seats in the
national parliament, “one Black, one Afrikaaner and one Englishman,” as Meshoe
puts it. Meshoe is confident that in the next South African elections in 2014,
his upstart party will become part of a coalition government.
When South Africa’s current ruling party, the African
National Congress (ANC), was founded after the country became independent, one
of its listed goals was the “creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and
democratic society.” Yet the party is now aligned against Israel despite a
democratic society in the Jewish state that stands in stark contrast to its
Middle East neighbors. In an article posted online in the current issue of ANC Today, the late Helen Suzman, who
was a leading Jewish opponent of Apartheid, exemplifies this irony by calling
Israel “racist” and accusing Israel of “Zionist oppression and dispossession of
Click photo to download. Caption: Members of the Shembe Church of South Africa at the Pretoria Art Museum for last June’s “Africans for Israel” march, organized by Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, a parliament member. Credit: Courtesy Esther Meshoe.
South Africa supported the United Nations resolution that created
the state of Israel in 1948 and has long enjoyed a cordial relationship with
Israel, but tensions between the two nations developed after the Six Day War in
1967. The ANC supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement
against the Jewish state, and the annual Israeli Apartheid Week was held for
the ninth consecutive year in South Africa in March, with the ANC and the South
African Trade Unions among the week’s most prominent backers.
During his U.S. speaking tour–organized by the Israel Allies
Foundation and arranged in association with the pro-Israel education group
StandWithUs, among other Jewish groups–Meshoe described what he and other black
Africans suffered during South Africa’s Apartheid regime. The suffering
included total residential segregation; separate and unequal educational
institutions, health services, and transportation; and the denial of voting
“Even in the rare instances when a white doctor agreed to
see a black patient, for example, he had to provide separate treatment rooms as
well as waiting rooms,” Meshoe told JNS.org.
“None of this is true in Israel, where everyone, whether Jew, Muslim or
Christian, regardless of race or origin, enjoys equal rights.”