BDS movement looking to ‘hold Israel accountable’ over South African visa denial

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman slams "hypocrisy" over xenophobic rioting in Johannesburg.

Boycott Israel sign (photo credit: REUTERS)
Boycott Israel sign
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The South African Communist Party and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement will soon unveil their plan to hold Israel accountable for its right-wing discriminatory policies, BDS South Africa announced in a statement on Monday.
The plan will come only days after Israel denied a visa to South African Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande, who stated his intention to visit the Palestinian Authority. He had been invited to Ramallah by his Palestinian counterpart from April 25-29 to discuss implementing an academic cooperation agreement between Birzeit University and the University of Johannesburg that they signed when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited South Africa in November last year.
“The Israeli government is trying by all means to hide their atrocities against the Palestinian people, and minimize the number of people who can actually see what is happening on the ground,” Nzimande told South African media.
Asked about the issue, an official of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies told the post that it was “a government- to-government issue” and that it was “not necessary for us to comment.”
On Friday Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman criticized the South African government and gave an angry reaction to the decision, calling it hypocritical and slamming the Communist Party, of which Nzimande is a member.
“The wild attacks by the South African Community Party against Israel following our refusal to allow the higher education minister to pass through Israel en route to the Palestinian Authority is hypocrisy,” Liberman said.
“It was only a few days ago that a violent, racist attack was perpetrated against foreigners in Johannesburg,” the foreign minister said. “There was also vandalism and destruction of property. The end result was many deaths and wounded.”
South Africa has had to deploy its army to stop the mob attacks on foreigners following comments last month by Goodwill Zwelithini.
“Let us pop our head lice. We must remove ticks and place them outside in the sun. We ask foreign nationals to pack their belongings and be sent back,” he reportedly said.
At least seven people have been killed in the latest wave of anti-immigrant violence to hit South Africa, which began almost three weeks ago in Durban, a coastal city in the Zulu heartland.
TV stations across the country have broadcast scenes of angry mobs armed with machetes looting immigrant- owned shops, in the worst xenophobic violence since at least 67 people were killed in 2008.
According to the BDS movement, “South African political and civil society views the denial of entry to Palestine by Israel as an affront on not only the minister, the Department of Higher Education and Training but also on the South African government and her people” and, as such, a coalition of groups will present a “plan of action to hold Israel accountable for its right-wing discriminatory policies.”
Last year South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein demanded that the African National Congress, the country’s ruling party, retract a statement comparing Israel with Nazi Germany and accused a senior ANC official of having “betrayed the South African dream of peaceful and dignified dialogue.”
The ANC had denounced last summer’s military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, comparing it to the Nazi war against the Jews and eliciting an immediate denunciation from South African Jewry.
Party deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte condemned Israel’s strikes on Hamas targets as “barbaric attacks on the defenseless Palestinian people of Gaza,” adding that Israel has turned the “occupied territories of Palestine into permanent death camps” and calling for all South Africans to boycott Israel.
Reuters contributed to this report.