South African Jewish leaders condemned an African National Congress review of their country’ s dual citizenship policy in what they say is a bid to prevent its citizens from serving in the Israeli military.
Banning dual citizenship is scheduled to be discussed anew at the ruling party’s national general council meeting next month, the Sunday Times reported, citing Obed Bapela, head of the ANC’s national executive committee’s subcommittee on international relations. The party had discussed the ban in July.
The measure would not just affect dual Israeli-South African citizens, as millions of South Africans reportedly hold dual citizenship, the Sunday Times reported.
“Obed Bapela has undermined the very core value of South Africa’s democracy by proposing a change to our law purely to prevent one sector of our society, in this case South African Jews, from having a relationship with Israel,” the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation said in a statement condemning the proposal while noting the Jewish community makes up 0.1 percent of the South African population.
The statement added: “The singling out of any minority group for discrimination is ominous for South Africa’s democracy,” the statement said. “In a country which battles against racism and xenophobia on a daily basis, Bapela is further inflaming divisions within our society. While mentioning Jews today, it will be other minorities tomorrow.”
Bapela’s calls to target Jewish business and his questioning of Jewish South Africans’ loyalty to the country is “classic anti-Semitism,” the Jewish leaders said.
The groups have requested a meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma to clarify the issue.
In July, the groups condemned Bapela for threatening to punish students who visited Israel, saying the students brought the ANC into “disrepute” and that the party would “summon” them to an investigation.