The South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) on Monday slammed the ruling ANC party’s newly proposed rules regarding dual citizenship.
The Sunday Times in South Africa reported on Sunday that the party was reviewing South Africa’s dual citizenship policy in an attempt to stop South African citizens from joining the IDF.
According to the report, the head of the ANC’s National Executive Committee on International Relations, Obed Bapela, said dual citizenship may not have “a place in the world.”
Bapela reportedly said the issue of dual citizenship raises questions about which countries people will pledge allegiance to.
“There’s an issue of loyalty. I don’t know if you have two passports, where is your loyalty going to be. Is it going to be divided, is it going to be to one country or is it going to be in both countries,” he said, according to the Eyewitness News website.
Bapela added says that citizenship comes with rights and obligations.
“Once those rights and obligations are being abused, obviously then countries tend to react and will look objectively on the issue and come up with a determination,” he told the website, admitting the main concern is that South Africans who are fighting for the Israeli army which, he claimed, goes against the foreign policy of the South African government.
“It is a growing phenomenon in South Africa; young boys going to Israel and train in their army then participating in the war against Palestine. South Africa’s view on Palestine, we know it, the two states must co-exist,” said Bapela.
Responding to the reports Monday, the SAJBD said that Bapela was undermining the “very core value of South Africa’s democracy” by proposing a change to existing citizenship legislation “purely to prevent one sector of our society‚ in this case‚ South African Jews from having a relationship with Israel.”
Bapela’s calls to target Jewish business and his questioning of Jewish South Africans' loyalty “is classic anti-Semitism”‚ the SAJBD’s Charisse Zeifert said, according to the South African Times Live.
“Bapela called for the notion of dual citizenship to be revised‚ simply to prevent the Jewish community‚ who make up 0.1% of the South African population‚ from identifying with Israel,” Zeifert said.
She added the singling out of any minority group for discrimination was ominous for South Africa’s democracy.
“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,” Zeifert said.
The latest move is not the first time Bapela has attacked South African Jews with regards to Israel.
In July, he threatened a group of South African students who visited Israel, saying the ruling party would "summon" the students for an investigation.
Anti-Israel sentiments have been prevalent for years in South Africa, which has frequently been critical of Israel and has claimed that it is applying a policy of “apartheid” towards Palestinian Arabs. In one incident, the former South African ambassador to Israel rejected a symbolic gift from the Israeli government, planting trees in his honor in a national park named after South Africa.
He explained that Israeli policies which, he claims, discriminate against Arabs appeared to be reminiscent of his experiences under South Africa's apartheid system.
South Africa's Foreign Minister has in the past slammed Israel's plans to build new homes in Jerusalem, saying she was “losing sleep” over the size of “Palestine”.
South Africa has also imposed rules requiring that goods imported from Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem display special labels.
President Jacob Zuma’s party has in the past compared Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza to the actions of the Nazis during World War II, evoking outrage from Jewish groups in the country.