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South African ACSA church declares Israel an apartheid state

'The parallels to apartheid are impossible to ignore,' says archbishop of church that supports BDS movement against Israel

Protesters hold a banner that equates Israel with apartheid, in Columbus, Ohio (Photo: Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Israel is an apartheid state, according to the African Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA), which is comprised of more than 4 million Christians throughout South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, the kingdom of Eswatini, Angola and St. Helena.

Last week, ACSA adopted a resolution to make its official decision clear, which was followed by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba releasing a statement claiming that Israel’s policies “are becoming ever more extreme.”

“As people of faith who are distressed by the pain of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza – and who long for security and a just peace for both Palestine and Israel – we can no longer ignore the realities on the ground. We are opposed not to the Jewish people, but to the policies of Israelis' governments, which are becoming ever more extreme,” Makgoba wrote in his statement.

He went on to make the false claim that Israel is similar to South Africa during apartheid.

“When black South Africans who have lived under apartheid visit Israel, the parallels to apartheid are impossible to ignore," Makgoba said.

"If we stand by and keep quiet, we will be complicit in the continuing oppression of the Palestinians. If we are to celebrate peace for Palestinians and security for the Israelis in in our time, we need to pray and work for the land we call holy, for an end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and for full recognition of the Palestinians' inalienable right to self-determination."

The decision to designate Israel as an apartheid state comes two years after the ACSA church officially stated its support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Archbishop Malusi Mpumlwana, the secretary-general of the Church of Southern Africa, said that the church “cannot stay silent,” and even resorted to invoking the Holocaust.

“The Holocaust does not justify traumatizing whole communities. There are Palestinians who are sitting in refugee camps since 1948,” Mpumlwana stated.

“In the same way that Jewish leaders are saying that the Palestinians must be held accountable for what they call terrorism, Israel needs to be held accountable for the apartheid it leads.”

The recent ACSA resolution also included statements about Christian pilgrimages to Israel and how they should be conducted.  

“Visits to the Christians of Palestine to hear their stories are often not on the programme of these pilgrimages and, furthermore, the word 'Palestine' is never or hardly ever used in the marketing material or in the preparation for the pilgrimage,” according to the resolution.

“The military occupation of Palestine is hardly ever talked about or discussed in these pilgrimages and the similarities to apartheid South Africa [are] seldom discussed.”

Declaring Israel an apartheid state in South Africa is not a new phenomenon.

The late South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, regularly called the Jewish nation an apartheid state, claiming that Israel was “systematically humiliating” Palestinians, comparing the Jewish state to South Africa during apartheid.

The ACSA resolution comes at a time when Jewish-Christian relations in Israel are under strain following a number of incidents when ultra-Orthodox Jews were seen spitting in the direction of Christian tourists and their church facilities.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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