The well-organized, well-funded anti-Israel lobby in South Africa, which presses primarily for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS ) is overpowering the local pro-Israel lobby, a veteran analyst of Israel-South African relations told Haaretz.
"The BDS campaign is very well run and seems to be well-funded. Maybe local Jewish leaders have relied for too long on their relations with ANC leaders who have in case moved on now - such as former president Nelson Mandela - and it's time for the Jewish leadership to do some hard strategizing," said attorney Howard Sackstein, founder and vice-chairman of Jews for Social Justice, the Jewish Anti-Apartheid movement.
Sackstein, who led the only ANC delegation ever to visit Israel, also accompanied Mandela to Brussels on behalf of the World Jewish Congress.
In Sackstein's view, much of the ANC's latest anti-Israel actions are the result of trying to win Muslim votes in the Western Cape, which is the only province in South Africa not controlled by the ANC. "The ANC is trying to woo the Muslims however it can," said Sackstein, who was executive director of the Independent Electoral Commission for six years.
Sackstein added that pro-Israel groups in South Africa are up against certain obstacles beyond their control, namely, Israeli policies.
"Israel's policies and its human rights record towards occupied Palestinians are simply unacceptable to any member of the ANC and the South African left - and maybe to most enlightened people anywhere, including Israel," said Sackstein.
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