BDS supporters in Cape Town, South Africa

After a severe three-year drought, the residents of the popular tourist city, Cape Town, were once again told that they would have to further limit their water consumption. According to a recent Reuters article, Cape Town’s more than 4 million residents have been told to cut their daily limits from 87 liters (23 gallons) to 50 liters per person (13.2 gallons). According to the estimates of world experts, residents of South Africa’s second-largest city will run out of drinking water in a matter of weeks. The situation in Cape Town is truly dire. Experts initially calculated “Day Zero,” the date upon which there is insufficient water in the Western Cape Water Supply System to push through the pipes to the suburbs and sprawling informal settlements that encircle the city, to be around April 16. It has since been pushed back to mid-May. With domestic consumption accounting for the bulk of water usage, officials are hoping their latest desperate cuts can stave off Day Zero until the rains begin. According to Reuters, in their desperation for water, the residents of the city will fill up water bottles at outdoor springs, leave toilets unflushed.

The recent development in Cape Town, the city which is home to the National Parliament of South Africa should have been anticipated and should have been dealt with years ago. In fact, 2 years ago, in February of 2016, an Israeli delegation was scheduled to visit South Africa and participate in a water conference, during which water conservation and the drought would have been addressed. The Johannesburg conference was canceled by the South African sponsors. Immediately following the cancellation, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement announced that they welcomed the move, and claimed that the participation of Israel’s envoy to South Africa, Arthur Lenk, and the South African delegation’s anti-Israel sentiments were the reasons behind the cancellation.

Soon after the canceled conference, South African water minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, announced that South Africa had contracted an Iranian company to assist in water desalinization.

Despite the previous cancellation and the Iranian contract, a few months later the Israeli embassy in South Africa hosted a week of events with experts sharing water technology and management knowledge that is applicable to current challenges in Southern Africa, according to an article in the Mail and Guardian written by then Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk. Lenk went on to describe why it was important that South Africa and Israel develop closer ties rather than shun dialogue and co-operation. The BDS movement put pressure on government officials to refuse to participate in the event and reported after the “water-week” that the movement’s mission was successful in swaying South African government officials from participating.

Africa’s ruling political party, the African National Congress (ANC) has incorporated the mission of BDS into their political platform and refuses to collaborate with Israel in any official capacity. In addition, there have been reports of collaboration between the terrorist organization Hamas and the ANC. Hamas participated in the ANC’s 54th National Conference that took place in Johannesburg in December of last year. It was at that conference that the ANC decided to downgrade the status of the South African Embassy in Israel (despite multiple acts of goodwill which Israel has shown the county).

In a shocking illustration of the hypocrisy and double standards that BDS activists and Israel-haters display, an opinion piece published yesterday in the Mail and Guardian by Rumana Akoob contained the following comment: “We can also boycott Israeli state assistance and draw on documented information produced within in Israel if necessary. There are water experts from other countries capable of understanding Israeli measures without the Israeli government’s prejudice.” Akoob essentially states that the country could benefit from the capabilities developed and implemented by Israel, but that asking for Israel’s help in bringing their capabilities to South Africa would be unacceptable. 

In response, the former Israeli ambassador to South Africa tweeted, “What a sad & foolish article. As a fan of SA, I hope that Cape Town finds water solutions somewhere, anywhere. I truly don’t care if it is from #Israel‘s expertise or not. If SA doesn’t partner with us, China, Brazil, India & USA already do.”

Despite South Africa’s refusal to allow for Israel’s assistance, Israel has continuously reached out to offer advice, technology and tech-support to the drought-stricken country. We hope that South Africa will leave behind the hateful and self-defeating mission of BDS and accept Israel’s assistance for the benefit of the people of South Africa.

According to the South African Jewish Report, residents of Cape Town have recently signed an online petition demanding that the government call on Israel for help. The following is an excerpt from the petition: “The Western Cape is about to reach Day Zero, when the taps will run dry. The Israeli government approached the ruling ANC party to offer solutions years ago, but the ANC turned them down and adopted a pro-Palestinian stance. This petition demands that the ANC cease importing the politics of the Middle East and taking an anti-Israel unilateral stance. We demand that the South African government commence immediate talks with Israel to ask for help with solving our water crisis.”

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