Gateway News asked three leaders who have much practical experience of Israel to comment on the implications of downgrading the South African embassy in Israel as proposed by the ANC — See: https://gatewaynews.co.za/sa-christians-asked-to-pray-about-anc-threat-to-downgrade-embassy-in-israel/
We post their full responses below.
Cheryllyn Dudley — ACDP MP and member of the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation
The ramifications of the downgrade are:
Religious: It is a well known fact that all major religions have a deep spiritual connection to the Holy Land, and make regular pilgrimages there. Jewish, Christian and Muslim pilgrims travel on a yearly basis to this region to visit holy sites and engage in faith-based exchanges with Israel and a downgrade would negatively affect their right to do so.
Political: Through downgrading our embassy in Israel, South Africa will isolate itself from playing a meaningful role in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. The South African government has the potential of playing an extremely important role in bringing about peace between the warring parties, and the SA Government has expressed a willingness to do so. A downgrade will put an end to this ambition.
Economic: Jeopardising the trade relationship between South Africa and Israel flies against the very notions of seeking economic growth, employment and business opportunities for our ailing South African economy, and will violate the business rights of many South African businesses and members of the business community who do trade with Israel.
Education and Cultural: The possibility of a visa regime between South Africa and Israel, and increased work permit requirements, on top of the already lengthy processes, jeopardises teaching and learning at more than 50 Jewish Day Schools in South Africa, and Hebrew, International Relations, Science and Bioresources Engineering Departments at various South African public universities.
Geopolitical: The move would have potentially calamitous consequences for South Africa’s diplomatic relations with not only Israel, but also countries that support Israel, and may even place existing and vital trade arrangements, such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) or even the bilateral South Africa-US free trade agreement that will eventually replace AGOA, in serious danger. I am thinking of the USA, Saudi Arabia, Africa – even India and China.
Constitutional: From a constitutional point of view a move to downgrade the SA embassy in Israel would impact on the SA Jewry’s’ and Christians’ close relationship with Israel, and limit their rights to freedom of religion and association. In addition it would complicate matters for South Africa’s own Home Affairs and immigration/emigration departments.
Security: The security of South African Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious organisations, individuals, school and university groups, who frequently travel to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, will be threatened without a fully-fledged embassy, especially given the context of a region marred in conflict.
Effectively this action, although called for in order to place pressure on the Israelis to negotiate a sustainable peace with their Palestinian counterparts, would instead restrict and vilify Jewish and Christian South Africans, as well as many others, for their legitimate religious, cultural, and business association with Israel.
Apostle Linda Gobodo, Founder Vuka Africa Foundation
The modern day state of Israel has a crucial role in the unfolding plan of God to redeem mankind.
Bible-believing Christians the world over have a role to play in God’s redemption plan.
A few years ago while in prayer I received a word from the Lord that we must pray for the Church in Africa and the world to seek the Lord for understanding of the Israel narrative, that it is neither political nor racist but purely spiritual.
This gave birth to one of the pillars of our foundation which is to encourage the Church in Africa to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to stand with Israel.
I am sure we know or at least we have heard it said it’s Africa’s Time, Africa is rising. What does this mean?
It simply means its is Africa’s time to be restored and to be blessed.
The Bible tells us in Gen 12:1-3 that God will bless those that bless Israel and will curse those that curse Her.
We are praying and encouraging the Church to pray and to bless Israel for the sake of Africa.
We also do events to call on Africa Stand With Israel — two years ago we had a dinner at the Maslow Hotel.
Last year we took a peace offering to Israel on behalf of the Church in SA.
As Vuka Africa in partnership with other ministries like Mandate Africa and Africa Leadership Summit and other have been making pilgrimages to Israel over the years. Personally this year was my 7th time to visit Israel. I am sure I beat some of you there!
I must say it is the highest spiritual experience to walk, to pray and to worship the Lord in the places you have read about in the Bible all your life. The Bible comes alive , it becomes a reality and not just nice stories. It is every Bible-believing Christian’s dream to visit Israel in their life time. When you are there you meet and you fellowship with Christians from all over the world.
The degrading will have very negative effect to South Africans who have aspirations to visit the Holy Land even in the future because if Israel reciprocates / retaliate and implements visa requirements for instance. Right now as SA we do not need a visa to visit Israel which is a great blessing, I shudder to think what that would do to the many SA who visit Israel every year.
Secondly there is a lot to gain in keeping harmonious relationship with the nation of Israel. Israel is famous for start up companies, and is a world leader in many of the skills SA and Africa need, e.g. agriculture,water management, medical innovations,hi-tech.
The hostility already has prevented and is preventing SA from benefiting from these skills and resources that Israel is so willing to share.
When we were in Israel in August for the Africa Leadership Summit about 20 Israeli companies presented to the delegates from across Africa. The message that came across is that they would like to bring business with funding but SA is closed — they have tried everything and there is no breakthrough.
If it’s like that with a full-fledged embassy how much more if downgraded? This animosity against Israel — in my view SA is shooting herself in the foot which is not good at all.
Motivation against downgrading:
Standing with Israel is a call from the Lord
The practical questions relating to the future ability of Christians wishing to travel for pilgrimage to Israel
It will be illogical and self-defeating for SA to cut itself from the potential of benefits Israel is willing to share with it. Standing and working with Israel would help address the socioeconomic challenges facing SA right now.
Let’s all take heart because God is moving in SA and there will be a godly government which will bring change according to prophecy.
SA will return to Israel again and will have very good relations.
Instead of a downgrade there will an upgrade.
Pastor Olusegun Olenipekun president of Africa Israel Chamber of Commerce
Advanced economies of the world including America, Japan, India, and Saudi Arabia are strengthening diplomatic ties with Israel. Many countries of Africa including Egypt, Kenya, Togo, and Rwanda are following the same example by increasing trade relations with Israel.
One wonders why South Africa is considering a downgrade of its embassy in Israel. As I write President Donald Trump of America has just announced that America recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and has instructed that the State department begin preparations for the move of America embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Is South Africa deceived by the replacement theology that proposes that the Christians have replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people? After all it is said that more than 80%t of South Africans are Christians. If this consideration to downgrade the South Africa embassy is fuelled by replacement theology or anti-Semitism, I would like to remind South Africans that Hitler grew up under replacement theology and built the Third Reich in the same spirit. Is that what we want for a nascent democracy still recovering from the shackles of apartheid?
The God of Israel does not need to break His covenant with one in order to accommodate another. It is inconsistent with God’s nature and character. If God has rejected Israel because she is unfaithful as replacement theology suggests, then the Church should be prepared for the same treatment because the Church has also in many ways been unfaithful. Fortunately, God does not reject His chosen and the Abrahamic covenant continues to sustain Israel.
A story is told of two cities where people of one city gathered rubbish and dumped it in another city in anger and hatred. The people of the other city gathered food and supplies and sent them back with a note that read “everyone gives what they have”. What is South Africa giving to Israel and to the Middle East now? Are there unhealed aspects of South African history that are spewing hatred out to the other side of the world in this proposed downgrade?
“Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is returning to Israel” says the Prime Minister of Israel Mr Benjamin Netanyahu. This is the season. The Africa Israel Chamber of Commerce is promoting trade and highways of exchange of business ideas, technology and innovation between African cities and Israel.
There is an adage that says show me your friends and I will tell you the kind of person you are. What culture is going to prevail in South Africa in the near future depends on who South Africa befriends in its international relations. Israel shares the culture of productivity, innovation, excellence, and entrepreneurship. If we neglect what Israel offers in this area we may be opening the door to terrorism, barbarism, incessant riots and unproductivity that is associated with the enemies of Israel. Which side is South Africa?
Israel has been a beacon of light to all former colonised territories of the world. Israel has succeeded to reverse 2 000 years of colonialism by regaining her land and restoring the use of the Hebrew language. This is motivating for African countries who are seeking for the restoration of our identity in the post-colonial era. Why does it appear as if the ANC is castigating Israel for her courage to reverse colonialism?
If the ANC goes ahead with the downgrade of the Israeli embassy, it will be committing political suicide. It will be the gravest policy mistake that the oldest political party on the African continent would have committed and it would be too late for the party by the time it realises its mistake. One wonders whether ANC has fallen victim to petro-dollar politics, where free money from Arab oil rich states has found its way into the private pockets of ANC policymakers as it has been observed in other parts of the world.
The ANC should remember that well over 100 000 Jews call South Africa home. It should also remember the very many Jewish leaders such as the great Helen Suzman who fought side by side with the ANC and South Africans in the struggle against apartheid. President Zuma and his ilk should consider the side effects of such a downgrade of its embassy in Israel including the fact that the numerous Christians and business travellers to Israel who travel there without visas may now require them to visit the land in which their faith was born.
The ANC should consider that an arbiter in a conflict may not take sides if it must be just and seen to be just.