Apartheid Israel’s links with Apartheid South Africa and Democratic Alliance (DA)

Mxolisi ka Nkomonde outlines the links between Apartheid Israel, Apartheid South Africa and the Harry Oppenheimer connection….

Harry Oppenheimer MuseumHarry Oppenheimer Diamond Museum in Ramat Gan Israel

Mmusi Maimane’s recent visit to Apartheid Israel has sparked controversy in South Africa prompting Palestine and the African National Congress (ANC) to castigate the Democratic Alliance (DA) and its leader. The visit came weeks after the United Nations Council Resolution 2334 which affirmed that “Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders”[1]. Palestine and the ANC have accused the DA of endorsing Apartheid Israel.

The DA has had ties with Israel since Israel was founded through its predecessors the Democratic Party later called Progressive Federal Party which then merged with Independent Party and National Democratic Movement in 1989 to form the new Democratic Party[2]. The links to Israel for the DA came with its main funder, Harry Oppenheimer who had accumulated vast wealth in South Africa through the exploitation of Black labour and land dispossession throughout colonial rule and later Apartheid.


Oppenheimer used Central Selling Organisation, an arm of De Beers, to help increase Israel’s market share of all cut and polished gem diamonds to more than 50%. All this while funding “liberal”political parties in South Africa which were “anti-Apartheid”[3].

Oppenheimer did not stop his duplicity with “liberal” political parties but also funded the “anti-Apartheid” movement through the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Urban Foundation[4] while a trustee at South Africa Foundation which funded various propaganda schemes for the Apartheid government in places like the United States[5] as a way of promoting Apartheid as “socially acceptable”.

Israel’s links to Apartheid South Africa were also solidified by the Afrikaner Nationalists who controlled the state. The steel
producer Iskoor was 51 percent owned by Israel’s Histadrut Koor Industries through a front company in Switzerland called Talronics and 49 percent by the South African Steel Corporation. [6]

Histaldrut is a racist labour union based in Israel which also had links to Black labour unions in South Africa.  In 1986, it met leaders of the newly-founded Black Trades Union Federation and the Congress of South Africa Trades Unions including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was then general secretary of the powerful National Miners Union in 1986[7].

On 18th of January 2017, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released 13 million pages of declassified documents online and within those documents there’s a document named “Israel’s relationship with Apartheid South Africa” dated 17 July 1986 which lists the following economic ties:

  • South Africa is Israel’s leading trading partner in Africa with trade between the two amounting to $250million excluding military equipment and diamonds
  • Israel imports almost 60% of its coal from South Africa
  • South Africa’s large and affluent Jewish community is the largest per capita contributor to Israel

Such are the links between the two countries and the Oppenheimer family, that  there’s a Holocaust Museum in Johannesburg while Israel has the Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Museum.

As South Africa rebuilds a new nation the question of relations with rogue states such as Israel should be on the agenda since the governing party given that the ruling ANC’s stance of solidarity with the Palestinians who face similar atrocities South Africa faced 23 years ago. It is after all, former President Nelson Mandela who said: “The people of South Africa will never forget the support of the state of Israel to the apartheid

[1] https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12657.doc.htm
[2] http://www.sahistory.org.za/archive/democratic-party-dp
[3] Sasha Polakow-Suransky – The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid
South Africa (Page 71)
[4] https://www.theguardian.com/news/2000/aug/21/guardianobituaries.davidpallister
[5] Washington Post,15 February 1984
[6] http://www.jta.org/1987/08/14/archive/histadrut-leader-orders-all-firms-controlled-by-the-unionto-
[7] Sasha Polakow-Suransky – The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid
South Africa (Page 71)

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