South African Buzz: What Zuma thinks of Israel

The South African Jewish Board of Deputes held their biennial conference in Johannesburg on Sunday evening, November 22.

December 3, 2015 21:26
4 minute read.
Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) stands with South Africa's President Jacob Zuma at the Union Building in Pretoria November 26, 2014.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The South African Jewish Board of Deputes held their biennial conference in Johannesburg on Sunday evening, November 22. Over 1,000 people attended, many to hear President Jacob Zuma’s views on the Jewish community and on Israel, which has been having a rough time here politically. Also present was Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress and Frenchman Bernard-Henri Levy, considered “a towering intellectual.”

Opening the meeting, Mary Kluk, chairman of the SAJBD, said that the Board was committed to ensuring that South Africa remained a non-racial democracy. “The country’s culture of non-racialism contributed to the relatively low incidence of anti-racialism.”

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Zuma, in his opening remarks, called on Jews to actively take part in the implementation of the National Development Plan to build a truly united and non-racial state. But most people in the audience wanted to hear what the president had to say about Israel.

“The government was not folding its arms in the conflict between Jews and Palestinians,” he said (note: “Jews,” not “Israelis”). “South Africa continues to contribute to attempts at finding peace in the Middle East, especially with the ageold Palestinian-Israeli question. We are happy that your conference looks at the ills of global racism and anti-Semitism because South Africa must, in the memory of Nelson Mandela, promote tolerance and understanding, as well as global peace and security.”

Zuma called for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state (murmurings in the audience) with east Jerusalem as its capital and without any pre-conditions” (more murmurings in the audience). (Who, Zuma should have been asked, is calling for a return to the pre-1967 borders and the return of the Palestinian refugees, most of whom have never set foot in present-day Israel?) Zuma went on, “South Africa can play a role and contribute to a stronger interaction between both sides. It is difficult to imagine peace in the world without the achievement of peace in the Middle East.”

He admitted that the visit of a Hamas delegation to South Africa caused “concern” amongst the Jewish community (concern?).

Lauder reminded all those present who might not have been aware that “Hamas is a terrorist organization that continues to call for the destruction of Israel.”

Henri-Levy labeled BDS “a fascist movement led by idiots.”

ICC asks South Africa to arrest Israeli commanders

Turkey has issued arrest warrants against the four Israeli navy commanders for their involvement in the May 2010 flotilla interception when nine “humanitarian” activists on the Mavi Marmara died. The fact that the flotilla was an act of provocation is ignored. South Africa has pledged to enforce the summons of arrest and extradite the four to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to face charges of "war crimes." The South African police stated that these four are now fugitives from justice.

The November 19th daily newspapers in Johannesburg and Cape Town had banner headlines: “Israeli Military Chiefs Face Arrest in South Africa.”

This led to a letter to the Cape Times from the executive director of the Cape Council of the SA Zionist Federation, Julie Berman. “We wish to inform you that the facts presented in the Cape Times this morning are totally untrue. We have been in touch with the Israeli embassy, which is dealing with this matter, and they have stated quite unequivocally that ‘is a fabricated story’ [as most of them are].”

A national police spokesman denied the BDS claims. “No warrants have been issued. We have checked with our Interpol and our Crimes against the State officials and they deny any such thing”.

In June, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, “accused of genocide, left the African Union summit in Johannesburg and flew home in defiance of a Pretoria High Court decision that he should be detained because of a warrant from the ICC.” There was not the slightest move to apprehend him.

Speaking at The Hague on November 19 at the Assembly of State Parties, the South African international relations minister asked, “Why does the ICC not pursue those accused of war crimes against Palestinians and Afghans with the vigor with which it pursues Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir?”

A cautionary note on South African visas

Parents traveling with children to South Africa have to bring with them unabridged birth certificates. If one parent is traveling, a letter of consent must be brought from the other parent.

Idris Elba, a British actor and his daughter, Jean, 14, were turned back at London’s Heathrow Airport. Elba had agreed to take the role of Nelson Mandela in a film, but decided not to go.

A spokesman for the Department of Home Affairs said, “If someone tries to come to South Africa and doesn’t comply with laws, that person will be refused admission.”


A vulture has been arrested in Saudi Arabia on suspicion of being a Mossad agent. The bird was carrying a GPS transmitter and a tag from Tel Aviv University and seemed to be involved in “a Zionist plot,” according to the local press.

The Israeli authorities say that the vulture is innocent and was simply being used in a long-standing study of migratory patterns.

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