The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said it was waiting for an official apology from the African Union after several delegates to a summit held by the continental body demanded that the Jewish representatives not be allowed to attend.
Conference executive vice president Malcolm Hoenlein and his compatriots left the conference’s opening ceremony two hours early after Egyptian and South African delegates refused to enter the hall while those they termed “Israelis” were still present.
An AU organizer told Hoenlein of the objections, and Hoenlein told him that it would be “outrageous” to complain about an Israeli delegation, but that in any case, the people in his group were Americans.
“We were not asked to leave, we were told the problem and then we made the decision that we weren’t going to abide the insults to Israel and the insults to the Jewish community,” Hoenlein told The Jerusalem Post.
While Hoenlein was generally upbeat about his reception, citing productive discussions with many African heads of state prior to the start of the AU summit, saying that he was “more optimistic” about Jewish-AU relations than ever before, he said that he “will not let the issue rest.”
“We were all official delegates and there wasn’t a question of our status. We were invited into the session,” he said. “We have sent letters to some of the presidents in regards to the behavior of members of their delegation.
We will be in touch with the AU leadership and hopefully get some letters of apologies and embarrassment.”
“Many delegates walked over to us to recognize us,” he added. “So I am very optimistic about that.”
JTA contributed to this report.