Tuesday, February 03, 2009

South Africa minister "apologizes" for anti-semitism

JTA reported last week:
On Jan. 14, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Fatima Hajaig told a pro-Palestinian rally that Jews controlled America "no matter which government comes into power, whether Republican or Democratic, whether Barack Obama or George Bush."

"The control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money," she said. "If the Jewish money controls their country, then you cannot expect anything else."

A local Muslim television station, Channel Islam International, aired Hajaig's comments as part of its rally coverage.

The rally, held during Israel's three-week operation in Gaza, was organized by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, a partner of the ruling African National Congress party. Other sponors included the Palestinian Solidarity Committee, the South Africa Communist Party -- also an ANC government partner -- and the South Africa Council of Churches.

"We haven't seen such brazen Jew-baiting from a senior government representative in South Africa for at least 50 years," David Saks, the associate director of the South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies, told JTA. "What was especially troubling about it was the raucously enthusiastic response from the large audience."

No kidding. Mail and Guardian blogger David Saks describes the rest of the rally:

In addition to such revolting conspiracy theorising, various other speakers at the Lenasia rally made threatening statements against the local Jewish community.This included calls that anyone with Zionist sympathies be expelled from the country, that “Israeli” businesses be boycotted (a list of Jewish-owned businesses is in fact now doing the rounds within the Muslim community and further afield) and that action be taken against South African Jews who served in the Israeli military.

One presenter said: “The common enemy is making inroads in South Africa … the Zionists in South Africa must be kicked out of the shores of South Africa”. Another speaker praised “our Jewish brothers and sisters” who had come out against the Israel Defence Force, assuring them “there is a place in the world we are building in South Africa for you”. Those who had not done so, he warned, had “better watch out because the winds of change are blowing”.

Regarding local Jews allegedly serving in the IDF, another presenter shouted (again to rapturous and sustained applause): “We are going to become impimpis [informants - EoZ], we are going to become impimpis … the business that we are going to carry out with the Jews, with these Zionist entities. We are going to talk to them, were going to find out if their sons have gone to fight our brothers and sisters in Palestine and then we’ll say to them come and fight us at home”.

Other speakers included ANC Provincial Secretary Nazeem Adams and Eddie Makue, general secretary for South African Council of Churches. Makue denied that the fight against Israel and Zionism was anti-Semitic, saying that he and his fellow activists only wanted to bring their “Jewish brothers and sisters onto the right path”.

“This is a global struggle. We are inviting you to join us in it, otherwise you will be mowed down in the annals of history as people who refuse to support justice and peace” he said, as the crowd bellowed its approval.

All in all, it must have been very much reminiscent of a Nuremburg rally.

So on January 14th, we had a televised rally with explicit anti-semitism, broadcast by a Muslim TV station that didn't condemn it (quite the opposite,) that was exposed in the media since at least January 19th...and now, three weeks later after much criticism, the deputy minister has finally issued a pseudo-apology:
Deputy foreign minister Fatima Hajaig today apologised for any pain caused by alleged anti-Semitic remarks she made at a rally a few weeks ago.

"To the extent that my statement may have caused hurt and pain, I offer an unequivocal apology for the pain it may have caused to the people of our country, and the Jewish community in particular," said Hajaig in a statement.

She said she regretted the "inference" made by some people that she was "anti-Jewish".

"I do not believe that the cause of the Palestinians is served by anti-Jewish racism."
Note that she is not apologizing for the statement - only for the fact that people might be offended. Needless to say, this is not an apology.

She then added:
"I conflated Zionist pressure with Jewish influence."

SA Jewish Board of Deputies national chairman Zev Krengel said today that Hajaig had given only a "veiled apology" in her statement.

"She is still not apologising for what she has said. She is apologising for the hurt."

Krengel said he believed she still needed to apologise for what was actually said and repudiate it.

He said she had used her apology to make another statement towards the Middle East and almost "justify" what she had done.
Since it took the netter part of a month for her to do even this, I think we can be sure that she really isn't too sorry about what she said.