South Africa's Anglican Church declares Israel an apartheid state

Resolution adopted by the South African Christian body encourages its 4 million believers to use the word 'Palestine' to refer to Israel and to criticize its treatment of Palestinians
Interview with Archbishop Malusi Mpumlwana
(Video: Newzroom Afrika)

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA), which brings together over 4 million Christian believers from South Africa and four other countries located in the southern part of Africa, officially adopted a resolution last week declaring Israel as an apartheid state.
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The organization, formerly led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, is considered highly influential in the struggle against the apartheid regime led in South Africa in the last century.
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ארכיבישוף מאלוסי מפומלוואנה, מזכ"ל הכנסייה האנגליקנית של דרום אפריקה בראיון ל
ארכיבישוף מאלוסי מפומלוואנה, מזכ"ל הכנסייה האנגליקנית של דרום אפריקה בראיון ל
Archbishop Malusi Mpumlwana
(Photo: Newzroom Afrika)
Following the introduction of the new resolution against Israel, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said in a statement “As people of faith who are distressed by the pain of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza – and who long for security and a just peace for both Palestine and Israel – we can no longer ignore the realities on the ground. We are opposed not to the Jewish people, but to the policies of Israelis' [sic] governments, which are becoming ever more extreme.”
Makgoba added that the move’s timing comes due to Israel’s ongoing judicial overhaul legislation, after which he claims Israel will lack checks and balances and act with Palestinians “in any way it would like.”
The organization, which includes Christian communities in Namibia, Mozambique, Angola, Eswatini, Lesotho, and Saint Helena, urges its believers to visit holy sites under Palestinian Authority control as an act of solidarity, hold meetings with Palestinians, and visit their homes whenever possible. They are also encouraged to use the term Palestine more and openly equate Israeli “occupation,” with apartheid.
Two years ago, the organization declared support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, but its members had refused to declare Israel an apartheid state until now, as part of the comprehensive policy of the worldwide Anglican Church.
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הארכיבישוף מקנטרברי ג'סטין וולבי ב לונדון בריטניה מצלם ב אייפד את מיסת חג הפסחא פסחא  ממטבח ביתו
הארכיבישוף מקנטרברי ג'סטין וולבי ב לונדון בריטניה מצלם ב אייפד את מיסת חג הפסחא פסחא  ממטבח ביתו
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
(Photo: AFP)
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the highest-ranking figure in the church, had previously said in a statement that he doesn’t see Israel as an apartheid state. “I don’t want to use the word apartheid because the apartheid regime in South Africa – and I knew Desmond Tutu and listened to him at length on this – the apartheid regime was built on a constitution that in the very fabric of the constitution, set up apartheid.”
“Israel’s constitution and the demonstrations against what is going on in the law at the moment show that there are huge numbers of Israelis who don’t want it to do that,” he added.
According to the ACSA’s secretary-general, Archbishop Malusi Mpumlwana, the organization can’t stay silent in light of recent developments in Israel and its concerns about the judicial overhaul.
He added that the organization has already reached out to the Vatican, the World Council of Churches (the largest global inter-Christian organization), and even religious Jewish leaders in the United States to join the call. "The Holocaust does not justify traumatizing whole communities. There are Palestinians who are sitting in refugee camps since 1948,” Mpumlwana said.
“In the same way that Jewish leaders are saying that the Palestinians must be held accountable for what they call terrorism, Israel needs to be held accountable for the apartheid it leads,” he added.
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דזמונד טוטו מת בגיל 90 דרום אפריקה
דזמונד טוטו מת בגיל 90 דרום אפריקה
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
(Photo: Reuters)
The movement’s previous head Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who died two years ago, was among the first international figures who consistently labeled Israel's treatment of Palestinians as apartheid.
For example, in 2011, he published an opinion piece in The Guardian where he recounted: “We have visited Israel/Palestine on a number of occasions and every time have been struck by the similarities with the South African apartheid regime. The separate roads and areas for Palestinians, the humiliation at roadblocks and checkpoints, the evictions and house demolitions.”
“Parts of East Jerusalem resemble what was District Six in Cape Town,” where over 60,000 inhabitants were forcibly removed in 1966 by the apartheid regime in South Africa, Tutu added.
The organization's declaration coincides with the recent controversy surrounding the harassment and attacks of Christian religious individuals by Jewish individuals in Jerusalem, such as spitting, and claims that these actions are supported according to Jewish religious laws.
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תיעוד הנזק כתוצאה מהאלימות נגד נוצרים בירושלים
תיעוד הנזק כתוצאה מהאלימות נגד נוצרים בירושלים
Vandalims against Christian church in Jerusalem
(Photo: Gadi Dahan)
According to footage gathered from security cameras in Jerusalem, police complaints, and personal testimonies, Christian monks and religious figures are humiliated and assaulted on a daily basis in various parts of Jerusalem’s Old City and its surrounding areas.
The most common form of assault includes spitting on the person, on their clothing, on the ground, or at the entrances to religious buildings. In response to this phenomenon, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Jerusalem’s chief rabbi, issued a public letter stating that such actions are forbidden and constitute a desecration of Judaism.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attacks, saying "Israel is totally committed to safeguard the sacred right of worship and pilgrimage to the holy sites of all faiths. I strongly condemn any attempt to intimidate worshippers, and I am committed to taking immediate and decisive action against it."
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