Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

S. African Party Opposes Israel Labeling Change

The African Christian Democratic Party said it would fight the South African government’s decision to adopt a regulation that prevents the labeling of goods from the West Bank as being produced in Israel.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s ambassador to Israel was summoned to a meeting Thursday morning at the Foreign Affairs ministry to clarify the new regulation.

Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, head of the opposition African Christian Democratic Party, told JTA Thursday that the people of Israel must know that the battle has only started, and that he will fight this matter “until justice is done.”

“We are upset and outraged over the government’s decision. We fail to understand why this decision was taken without consulting the Jewish community of South Africa, so that a compromise could be found,” Meshoe said, adding that three weeks ago he requested a meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma on the issue, which never took place.

“My intention is to follow up on this fight, and if needed I will take it to a court of law. I do not believe that this notice will withstand legal scrutiny. The South African government will be embarrassed once the court declares this notice illegal,” Meshoe said.

The party organized at the end of June unprecedented pro-Israel demonstrations, against the proposed regulation, both in Pretoria in front of the Trade Ministry’s offices, and in Cape Town at the gates of the Parliament. Close to 3,000 people participated.

How the goods will be labeled remains unclear. While the original proposal by the Trade and Industry Ministry said the products should be labeled as being manufactured in the ”Occupied Palestinian Territories,” the Ministerial Council’s decision Wednesday refers to a new label which reads ”Israeli Occupied Territories.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Wednesday reacted to the decision by calling South Africa “an apartheid state.”

”South Africa’s apartheid is directed at the moment against Israel and also against her own miners,” he said, referring to the killing last week by police of 34 miners demonstrating over wages. “Instead of embracing a decision on the labeling of Israeli products, South Africa’s government should take courageous decisions on behalf of the 34 innocent miners, who simply demanded an improvement of their working conditions.”

Yigal Palmor, spokesperson of the Israeli MFA, issued a statement condemning the measures taken by the South African government, calling it “without precedent.”

“It constitutes a blatant discrimination based on national and political distinction. This kind of discrimination has not been imposed – and rightly so – in any other case of national, territorial or ethnic conflict. Israel and South Africa have political differences, and that is legitimate. What is totally unacceptable is the use of tools which, by essence, discriminate and single out, fostering a general boycott. Such exclusion and discrimination bring to mind ideas of racist nature which the government of South Africa, more than any other, should have wholly rejected.”

The Deputy Director General for Africa at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Avi Granot, was scheduled to meet Thursday with the South African ambassador to Israel to convey to him Israel’s reaction and to seek clarification.

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.