Last month, a vastly under-reported story was a DA representative unexpectedly shifting the party’s position on the Israel/Palestine situation. They’ve normally followed a middle line, a 2-state solution which respects both sides and doesn’t get the DA into too much trouble. Now they’ve seemingly adopted a strong, pro-Palestinian stance, that recommends a war crimes court aimed at Israel that aligns them with the ANC’s interests in the matter.
The Parliamentary Solidarity Conference in support of the peoples of Palestine, Western Sahara and Cuba was held in the Good Hope Chamber in Parliament, Cape Town on February 6 2014. It’s purpose was to “produce an action-orientated declaration for a Parliamentary Plan of Action taking the solidarity movement forward towards a peaceful resolution of the challenges facing the three nations”. The resolutions, which recommend strong actions against Israel, have been called the Cape Town Declaration. For full details, read Gareth van Onselen’s article entitled, ‘Has the DA Abandoned its Position on Israel’.
With the South African elections around the corner, and the parties alleged Jewish connections, it’s even more surprising that they’ve taken an anti-Israeli position.
In the long term, it could be argued that it’s part of the DA’s desperate chase after black faces but the DA’s white members will be more divided on the issue in the short-term (and it’s more likely to affect their voting).
This isn’t about right or wrong or the merits and cons of multi-racialism. My point is that it’s bad timing and another miscalculation by the DA that’s likely to hurt them in the short term. The alternative, which seems more likely when looking at DA history, is that this does not represent the party and that it’s the result of an internal lack of communication on policy. Someone screwed up.
To return to their former position would piss off their Moslem voters. To stay where they are will piss off their Jewish voters. To be quiet and hope the press leaves it alone is their safest bet. But if the press makes it mainstream, we should expect another rapidly fired letter from Helen Zille blaming misrepresentation or the firing of Bill Eloff, the DA MP who attended the conference (and is their Deputy Shadow Minister on International Relations).
No matter the final outcome, it’s another screw-up on a massive scale that the DA can’t afford after its past year of dysfunction.
RW Johnson wrote a thought provocative piece on the matter which i highly recommend you read: “The news that DA representatives have voted in favour of extreme anti-Israel resolutions at the Cape Town Conference of 6 February is one more complete DA mess. We are getting used to them. First there was voting in favour of extreme new laws on affirmative action and BEE; then the flip-flop back again; then a re-flop as the party cast away more than fifty years of history and decided to use race as one of its criteria. Then we got the entirely predictable (and predicted) disaster with Mamphela Ramphele. Now we have the party of Helen Suzman spitting on her grave by infuriating the Jewish community on election eve. Helen didn’t hold strong views about Zionism or even Judaism but about basic political competence she certainly did.” – read the rest of ‘The DA Lands in Another Fine Mess’ here.