SA Muslim, Jewish, Christian leaders united in condemnation of 'shameful' Trump

2017-12-12 20:02
Leaders from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions in Cape Town condemned US president Donald Trump's declaration that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Leaders from the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions in Cape Town condemned US president Donald Trump's declaration that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. (Jan Gerber, News24)

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Cape Town – South African leaders from the Abrahamic religions – Muslims, Jews and Christians – on Tuesday expressed their solidarity in condemnation of US President Donald Trump's "shameful" decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

A common thread among the religious and civic leaders who spoke at a press conference organised by the South African Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, was that the issue was not one of religion, but of human rights.

Last Wednesday Trump announced that he had determined that it was "time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel".

The international community has largely condemned this step.

READ: Trump's Jerusalem move tantamount to throwing a 'grenade' at Palestinian people - ANC

In 1947, when Israel and Palestine were partitioned, Jerusalem was to be administered as an international city, but in 1948, Israel invaded a part of the city. In the war of 1967, Israel occupied the remainder of the city.

"Today we gather here to, firstly, condemn the shamefulness of Donald Trump's undermining of international consensus, international law and UN resolutions by unilaterally recognising Jerusalem (a Palestinian city of Palestinian Christians, Muslims and Jews) as the capital of Israel and a site for the construction of a new US embassy," reads the joint statement released by the movement's leaders.

'Israeli apartheid worse than SA apartheid'

They also support the call on the South African government to downgrade its embassy in Israel to send a "clear message to the regime that its human rights abuse, violations of international law, its annexation of Jerusalem and other Palestinian areas are completely unacceptable to peace- and justice-loving people of the world".

Well-known Anglican priest and social justice activist Father Michael Lapsley, who was maimed after he received a letter bomb from the apartheid government's Civil Cooperation Bureau, said he recently visited Israel/Palestine.

"What I saw with my remaining eye is that Israeli apartheid is worse than South African apartheid," he said.

Activist Terry Crawford-Browne visited Jerusalem in 2010 and in June this year. Asked about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank, he said: "The situation is pretty desperate. It is far worse this year than it was in 2010."

He likened the situation to genocide and said Israel wants to remove Palestinians from Jerusalem and make it unbearable for them elsewhere so that they move of their own volition.

Heidi Grunebaum of South African Jews for a Free Palestine said the organisation unequivocally condemns Trump's decision.

"The land is not Trump's to give away, nor is it Bibi Netanyahu's (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu)," she said.

'Smack in world's face'

Wendy Kahn, the national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, previously told News24 the organisation recognised the sovereignty of the US and its prerogative to make decisions in the advancement of its national interest.

ALSO READ: Recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital 'makes peace possible' - Netanyahu

"We, however, believe that the Israelis and Palestinians must now come together to the negotiation table to find a peaceful solution to this tragic conflict.

"Our plea to world leaders, including our own government, is to actively put pressure on both sides to do so," she said.

Second deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council Sheikh Riad Fataar said it was an act of arrogance to go against religious leaders like Trump, "who has the audacity to smack the world in the face".

"We will stand as one where you want to practice apartheid," he said.

He called on the United Nations to protect the rights of all the people who live in Jerusalem.

Speaking about world leaders, he said: "Where are the people who stand up for justice? You are silent in the face of oppression. What kind of leaders are you?"

On Wednesday there will be a march from District Six in Cape Town to Parliament, and on Thursday there will be a picket outside the US consulate in Sandton, Johannesburg, to protest Trump's decision.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  palestine  |  israel

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