South African Jews demand answers in African Union summit flap

Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein says AU’s commitment to tolerance "on trial."

By
June 30, 2014 18:03
2 minute read.
South African Cheif Rabbi Warren Goldstein.

South African Cheif Rabbi Warren Goldstein.. (photo credit: Sam Sokol)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

South Africa’s Jewish community is demanding answers from Pretoria following reports that their country’s delegates to last week’s African Union summit in Equatorial Guinea objected to the presence of a Jewish group from the United States.

The Jewish group, organized by Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, walked out of the summit on Thursday after the Egyptian and South African delegations reportedly refused to enter the hall while they remained inside. A delegation from Iran, which is not a member of the AU , also objected to the presence of those whom they are said to have termed “Israelis.”

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


“We will be in touch with the AU leadership and hopefully get some letters of apologies and embarrassment,” Hoenlein told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

In a statement on Monday, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJ BD) said that it was “outraged over this blatant display of anti-Jewish bigotry at this important gathering of African leaders.”

“By and large, the greater part of the African continent has been mercifully free of anti-Semitism. It is therefore deeply regrettable that certain countries were allowed to introduce their prejudiced and grossly intolerant attitudes at a gathering whose purpose was to bring Africa’s diverse communities together,” the group said.

In response to “unconfirmed reports” of South African involvement in the exclusion of Hoenlein’s group, the SAJ BD wrote to President Jacob Zuma to request “clarity” on the issue. The Jewish communal body also said that it is has contacted the AU to see what steps the continental association is taking to prevent a recurrence of Thursday’s events.

"The statement is noted," a spokesman for President Zuma told the Post. "The Presidency will respond to the letter of the SAJBD upon receipt. The SA constitution and bill of rights are the basis upon which we execute our foreign policy. SA agrees that 'The banning of people from public forums by virtue of their race, religion, ethnicity or any other grounds" is unacceptable. We believe in ethos of tolerance, acceptance of diversity and commitment to fight racism and bigotry.'"



According to South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, “The AU ’s commitment to tolerance and non-racialism is on now trial” and it “cannot tolerate this kind of bigotry, especially at a time when the African continent is being torn apart by religious hatred.”

Calling for strong action against those responsible, Goldstein said that the AU must “publicly and unequivocally apologize for such a shameful incident.”

Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group headquartered in Los Angeles, came out strongly in favor of an AU reprimand of those who objected to a Jewish presence.

“If this despicable lack of hospitality was indeed the result of efforts by the Egyptian and Iranian delegations, the former should be disciplined according to the steps available to the African Union under such circumstances, while the latter should be permanently barred from all future summits,” Zuroff demanded.

The African Union also did not reply to a request for comment.

Related Content

Joan Rivers
August 28, 2014
Joan Rivers rushed to hospital following throat surgery

By JPOST.COM STAFF