TEL AVIV – A water conference in South Africa was canceled due to condemnation by BDS activists regarding the inclusion of Israel’s ambassador, the Times of Israel reported.
Ambassador Arthur Lenk was slated to take part in a panel at the Johannesburg conference on “equitable and sustainable water management for poverty alleviation.”
“We are willing to share expertise to help South Africa with its drought problems,” said Michael Freeman, an Israeli embassy spokesman. “We were looking forward to helping South Africa and any other country in the world that faces similar problems.”
BDS South Africa said it welcomed the cancellation and the pledges by some of the sponsors and organizers that any future event would not include the Israeli ambassador.
The boycott movement added that it was pleased “the rug has been pulled from the Israeli ambassador who will not be able to exploit our very serious water crises for his own cheap publicity and whitewashing of his regime. Israeli water technology is not unique or special; such technology is widely available through other more friendly countries.”
The Times of Israel reported that Lorenzo Fioramonti, a political economist at the University of Pretoria and director of the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation who was due to speak at the conference, retracted his participation the week before the cancellation due to “an international academic boycott against Israel’s public officials.”
“There is enough evidence to show how Israel’s policies have taken water away from Palestinian communities,” he said. “Hiding this through a pseudo-technical debate about water technology would be unacceptable.”