Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman has hit back strongly against an announcement by South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane of a moratorium on government visits to Israel, accusing the country of hypocrisy and fostering anti-Semitism, and urging South African Jews to come to Israel.
“The comments by the South African foreign minister at the weekend, that South African government ministers will no longer visit Israel as an expression of solidarity with the Palestinians, are a combination of hypocrisy and classic anti-Semitism,” Liberman wrote on his Facebook page Sunday morning.
Nkoana-Mashabane said Friday that her country’s ministers are not visiting Israel out of solidarity with the Palestinians. “Even the Jewish Board of Deputies that we engage with here, they know why our ministers are not going to Israel,” South Africa’s The Times quoted Nkoana-Mashabane as saying.
Liberman accused the South African administration of double standards over the deaths of almost three dozen striking miners last year, and for failing to condemn acts of violence in other African nations, but focusing on alleged crimes by Israel.
“This is the same government whose police force just a year ago shot and killed 34 miners who dared to strike and then wanted to prosecute the survivors using apartheid-era laws,” he wrote. “The same government that does not balk at events in its neighboring countries, such as the murder of journalists in Mali and protesters in Kenya, is primarily concerned with what is happening to the Palestinians thousands of kilometers away. “
Liberman warned that this climate of anti-Israel sentiment would make life dangerous for South Africa’s Jews, and urged them to move to Israel immediately. “The South African government is creating an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic atmosphere, which will result in pogroms against the country’s Jews. I call on all Jews still living there to make aliya as soon as possible, before it is too late,” he said.
Liberman stepped down as foreign minister earlier this year, due to his ongoing trial for fraud and breach of public trust. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has assumed the duties of the post on a temporary basis, on the understanding that Liberman will resume the role should he be acquitted in his trial.