A South African cabinet minister, who is himself Jewish but also an outspoken critic of Israel, on Monday defended his invitation to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to make his first visit outside the Muslim world, saying it was "myopic" to reject opportunities for dialogue.Yet I could not find in his itinerary that he attempted to visit Israel or speak to any Israeli government official while he was in the area. Isn't that strange from someone who extols the virtues of "dialogue"?
Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils provoked controversy last week when he extended the invitation during a visit to the Palestinian territories. He said South Africa's own experience showed the need to talk to all sides.
"Those who myopically object to such invitations merely show that they have learnt nothing from South Africa's transition," Kasrils said in a statement.
"Such logic as they espouse would not have allowed (apartheid era president) PW Botha to have met with the imprisoned (Nelson) Mandela nor his release by (former president) FW De Klerk as a partner in negotiations."
In fact, in 2002 in an astoundingly bigoted Al Ahram interview, he said:
I was invited several times to visit Israel and I declined because of what Israel is doing to the Palestinians.I guess that his belief in "dialogue" does not apply when he disagrees with the people who would like to speak to him.