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Tell Congress: Oppose H.R. 7256

The South African people have developed deep ties with the Palestinian cause. After South Africa’s apartheid system was dismantled and Nelson Mandela was elected President in 1994, he said, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

The South African people are right–and we must stand on the right side of history. Urge your congress member to oppose H.R. 7256.

To: U.S. President Biden, US Secretary of State Blinken, House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and all members of Congress.

We, US supporters of diplomacy and international law, applaud South Africa for appealing to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to prosecute Israel for genocide in Gaza and urge all members of Congress to oppose bill H.R. 7256, the “US-South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Act”  that sets the stage for sanctions against South Africa.

This bill, sponsored by Rep. John James (R-MI-10), seeks to punish South Africa for demanding Israel be held accountable for the slaughter in Gaza that has killed or maimed over 100,000 Palestinians, the majority of them women and children. 

Specifically, the bill requires a full review of US-South Africa relations, including trade relations totaling over $25 billion a year,  for bringing cases against Israel in the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice. 

Members of the House Foreign Relations Committee recently voted 36-13 to approve this bill that says South Africa filed a “politically motivated” lawsuit in the International Court of Justice to wrongfully accuse Israel of committing genocide. The bill was supported by 10 Democrats: Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Bill Keating (D-MA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Jim Costa (D-CA) and Brad Schneider (D-IL).

The legislation says, “it is the sense of Congress that South Africa’s foreign policies have long ceased to reflect a sense of non-alignment and therefore undermines US national security and foreign policy interests.”

The opposite is true.

It is the US government’s insistence on funding and arming genocide that undermines national and global security by destabilizing the entire Miiddle East while generating hatred that will surely lead to dangerous blow-back. Since Israel’s imposition of collective punishment of Gaza, we have seen the US conduct airstrikes on the capital of Yemen in retaliation for the blockade of Red Sea cargo to Israel; the Pentagon has beefed up security at US bases in the Middle East where US service members are increasingly vulnerable; Israel–subsidized by the US– has repeatedly bombed Lebanon and Syria while outraged people have poured into the streets against Israel and the United States.

We urge those who co-sponsored this bill or voted for it in committee to withdraw their support, and for all other members of Congress to refuse to support this attempt to punish South Africa for its actions to stop Israel’s genocide and prevent future genocides. 

Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of international Relations, recently visited the US to meet with Congress to discourage this bill’s passage and warn of the dangers at hand. Pandor said, “... “We are seeing mass starvation now and famine before our very eyes, so I think that we, as as humanity, must look at ourselves in horror and dismay and be really worried that we have set an example for those authoritarian regimes there’s license, I can do what I want and I will not be stopped … the minute you allow something like this then what you are doing is setting in place a form of practice that will be very difficult to challenge in the future.”

The South African people have developed deep ties with the Palestinian cause. After South Africa’s apartheid system was dismantled and Nelson Mandela was elected President in 1994, he said, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

The South African people are right–and we must stand on the right side of history. We urge you to oppose H.R. 7256.

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