The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Movement in South Africa took credit this week for the cancellation of an upcoming water conference because of the participation of Israel’s envoy to South Africa, Arthur Lenk.
According to a press release put out by BDS South Africa, the conference was to be hosted by the South African weekly Mail & Guardian.
South Africa is facing a severe drought.
The Foreign Ministry said it was trying to clarify whether the conference was indeed canceled because of Lenk’s planned participation as a panelist.
The BDS Movement’s statement said it welcomed “a) the pledge by some of the sponsors and organizers that if ever a similar event is organized in the future that it will not include the Israeli ambassador to South Africa; and b) the assertion by South Africa’s Ministry of Water Affairs and Sanitation that it had nothing to do with the conference in the first instance.”
The statement said Israel “has been attempting to break its growing isolation by promoting its water technology.
However, water experts have pointed out the Israeli facade.
The statement quoted from a letter sent by a South African professor, Lorenzo Fioramonti, explaining that he was canceling his participation in the conference because “there is enough evidence to show how Israel’s policies have taken water away from Palestinian communities.
Hiding this through a pseudo- technical debate about water technology would be unacceptable.”
Former Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman, who today is director of public diplomacy in the vice chairman’s office at the WZO, said that if the BDS claim of responsibility for the conference’s cancellations is correct, it shows that “Israel can do no right” in South Africa.
“In a conference that can help South Africa, they are willing to hurt themselves to avoid having an Israeli involved,” he said.
Lipman added, however, that this incident demonstrates that the Israel advocacy approach of saying that Israeli technology will protect the country from BDS moves does not work.
“We like to assume that our great technology will save the day, but a much more nuanced approach to Israeli advocacy has to be explored,” he said.
“We have to approach the conflict in a different way, and acknowledge there is complexity.”