Last month, Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Liberia to meet with a number of West African heads of state; he made a similar visit to East African capitals last year. The trips are part of the prime minister’s global effort to strengthen Israel’s diplomatic standing. But Netanyahu also had a more specific goal in mind: putting pressure on South Africa—to which many of the continents’ nations look for leadership—to end its hostility toward the Jewish state. Amnon Lord explains:
The strengthening of relations with African countries is intended, among other things, to create a greenhouse effect, melting the “glacier” of South Africa’s hostility that [in turn] limits Israel’s relations with [other] African countries. . . .
South Africa’s experience under apartheid is used by the BDS movement as a political weapon. South Africa is largely the territorial base of BDS. . . . The power of [anti-Israel] movements is multiplied in South Africa, [which despite] all of its corruption and failures, has been transformed since the elimination of apartheid by Nelson Mandela’s leadership into a “moral power.” This [authority] could be a strategic resource for Israel—but South Africa’s status as a moral power is instead directed against Israel. . . .
Official solidarity with the Palestinian cause is absolute. It is a South African legacy of the longstanding partnership with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) that was created by the Soviet Union during the cold war. The [governing] African National Congress (ANC), [which led the anti-apartheid movement under Nelson Mandela] had many Communist members, many of them Jews. They formed the connecting link between the ANC and the PLO. This is why the senior Hamas official Khaled Meshal was received in South Africa as an official guest of honor, and even had a meeting with President Jacob Zuma.
The surprise is that there are black South Africans who are willing to fight for Israel’s sake. These are young people who feel cheated by the lies of the boycott movement; some of them are even former student BDS activists. They feel insulted that the term “apartheid” is used against Israel. As far as they are concerned, this is a kind of denial of the suffering they endured under the real apartheid system that existed in South Africa.