UNITED NATIONS (Jun. 14)
For the first time, Israel will participate in ceremonies to mark Soweto Day, the International Day of Solidarity with the Struggling People of South Africa.
The event, to be held Wednesday morning, is sponsored by the Special Committee Against Apartheid of the Trusteeship Council Chamber of the United Nations.
Israel has in the past stayed away from this commemoration, mindful that it was likely to come under disproportionate attack for its ties to South Africa.
The participation marks a sea change in Israel’s profile and relationships within the United Nations and in particular its standing with other African nations.
For much of the 1970s and 1980s, Israel was closer diplomatically to South Africa than it was to the United Nations, and to most of its members.
Now the Jewish state has ties with a strong majority of U.N. member states and is no longer treated as a pariah state by the world body.
Explaining the Israeli decision to participate in Soweto Day, which was reached in consultation with the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, U.N. Ambassador Gad Yaacobi noted the changed policies in South Africa, which promise to lead soon to democratic elections with the participation of the country’s black majority.