While Israel endured some 700 rockets fired from Gaza, four were killed and 138 wounded, three senior left-wing activists participated in a conference in South Africa in which harsh criticism was voiced against Israel, Yisrael Hayom reported.
According to the report, the conference was held by the Jewish Democratic Initiative (JDI), a South African Jewish organization whose goal is to create international pressure on Israel. Breaking the Silence director Avner Gvaryahu, the director of B'Tselem, Hagai Elad, and the director of the New Israel Fund, Mickey Gitzin, spoke at the conference in Cape Town, where dozens of members of the Jewish community were present. For two hours they talked about the "occupation" and the suffering of the Palestinian Arabs. They also compared Israeli policy with the Apartheid regime that existed in South Africa.
The newspaper cited persons present who said that the Israeli spokesmen did not mention the suffering of Israeli citizens, who at that very moment were hiding in shelters as Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets from Gaza. Ben Shwartz, chairman of the Jewish Federation of South Africa, said: "JDI does declare that they oppose BDS but are also working to encourage boycotts against Israel. What worries me is that I do not hear from them about the terrorism that Israeli citizens are dealing with. Just criticism."
Hagai Elad explained during the conference that the strategy of B'Tselem is to apply international pressure to achieve political goals. "We should try to open the door to international implications for Israel through a detailed description of the grim reality in Gaza, as well."
Regarding the Apartheid charge, Elad said: "The level of injustice we are doing to the Palestinians is the same level of injustice (compared to Apartheid in South Africa) and should be rejected with the same commitment."
JDI said in response: "We do not support BDS, and we are sad to hear such accusations from our Jewish partners. Respect for human rights is a central goal for us as Jews."
Breaking the Silence said: "We were happy to meet South African Jews who told us about the price of the struggle against Apartheid and how their government censured them in the press when they spoke publicly against its destructive policy."
No response was received from B'Tselem and the New Israel Fund.