(photo credit: REUTERS)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed the South African government on Friday after it reacted angrily to the refusal to grant a visa to a cabinet minister who was invited to a conference in the West Bank.
The controversy erupted after the Israeli Embassy in Johannesburg denied an entry visa to the South African minister of higher education, Blade Nzimande.
Nzimande, a member of the South African Communist Party, was scheduled to arrive this weekend at Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah, for the opening of the Center for African Studies.
“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.
The minister said he believes Israel’s refusal stems from the Communist Party’s decadeslong support for the Palestinian cause.
“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.”
“As part of the rioting, South African police fired rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades at other migrants from neighboring African countries,” Liberman said. “These events and others prove once again that South Africa remains a country with serious problems of racism and violence.
“That’s why it would behoove the South African government and the Communist Party to stop preaching morality and attacking Israel, which is a great democracy that is exceptionally coping with threats and terrorist elements while making maximal effort to preserve human rights and international norms of behavior.
If South Africa were forced to contend with Israel’s security predicament, “blood would be awash in the streets there,” Liberman said.
“In this light, it’s no surprise that the Communist Party prefers the Palestinians over Israel,” he said. “It is a