JOHANNESBURG (JTA) — A high-profile elected official participated in a large protest in South Africa against Israel’s operation in the Gaza Strip.
Western Cape Premier Lynne Brown joined hundreds or, by some accounts, thousands of marchers in Cape Town. Nearly 500,000 Muslims reside in the Western Cape, along with 17,000 Jews.
The march, organized by the Muslim Judicial Council, called on the South African government to sever diplomatic relations with Israel and for a boycott of Israeli goods. Several African National Congress government leaders were among the marchers.
An unnamed Muslim council spokesman said the group was showing solidarity with "our brothers in Palestine." He said it was not against Jews or Christians — only Zionists — and did not support anti-Semitism or anti-Semitic attacks elsewhere in the world.
A statement issued by the South African Zionist Federation, the Jewish Board of Deputies and the Office of Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein said the South African Jewish community firmly supports the decision of the Israeli government to launch a military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“Bearing in mind the inevitable loss of life which occurs in every military conflict, we share with the citizens of Israel the heavy heart with which they have embarked upon this operation," the statement read.
The statement called on the South African government and the ruling ANC to act in a balanced and constructive manner on the Gaza conflict.
"We hope that the government and the ANC use their special relationship with the Palestinian leadership to persuade them once and for all to enter into peaceful negotiations with Israel," it said. "These negotiations will hopefully lead to the fulfillment of what the South African government and the ANC have repeatedly stated is the desired outcome for the region, namely the achievement of a two-state solution which allows Israelis and Palestinians to live peacefully side by side with one another. “