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Israel drops ‘blade’ on Nzimande's visa application

  • Blade1 FULL
Amid the fracas between SA Jewry & Israel, pro-Palestinians & local Zionists, ANC alliance rivals & even in the ranks of communal organisations - Israel stays shtum on the matter of their denial of a visa to Minister Nzimande. But there is likely good reason. After all, they recently granted visas to two officials (Dep Min Obed Bapela & Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau), both of whom certainly don’t have the Israeli embassy on their Xmas card lists.
by ANT KATZ | Apr 28, 2015

In what looks increasingly likely to become a fracas both between SA and Israel, pro-Palestinian groups and local Zionists, and even within SA Jewry itself, Israel’s refusal last week to issue a visa to Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande, has pitted SA Jewish communal organisations against the Israeli embassy, and even between themselves.

Rhodes Mary Kluk chairperson SAJBD - LONG - CopyThe national offices of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (Board) and the SA Zionist Federation (Fed) issued a joint statement on Tuesday castigating Israel for withholding the visa.


RIGHT: Board national chairman, Mary Kluk

The joint statement issued by the Board and Fed on Tuesday “note(d) with concern the denial by the Israeli authorities of a visa for Dr Blade E Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, to visit Ramallah for an official engagement”.

The statement went on to say that it was “most regrettable, as the SAJBD and SAZF have long argued that regular interaction between Israel and SA … are to the benefit of both South Africa and Israel and foster greater understanding between the two countries.”

This is probably the most public spat between the Israeli Embassy and the communal organisations since the abortive visit of Tzipi Livni in 2010.

And the top two Jewish communal organisations didn’t stop at castigating Israel. Using strong terms not usually associated with the Board and Fed, they flay SA as well:

Sharon Beit Shalom


LEFT: FED national chairman, Ben Swartz

at, in recent times, South Africa has imposed restrictions on the free movement of officials between this country and Israel,” they say. READ THE FULL JOINT-STATEMENT

There appears to be a level of splitting in the ranks, however, as the chairman of the  Fed’s Cape Council, Ben Levitas, wrote an op-ed piece on Politicsweb.com on Sunday entitled: “Why Israel was right to refuse Blade Nzimande an entry visa.”

Israel acted with good reason to refuse Nzimande entry, wrote Levitas, as Nzimande had “actively activated and propagated the severing of links between the University of Johannesburg and The Ben-Gurion University, in Beersheva. Nelson Mandela accepted an honorary doctorate from this Israeli University, specifically for the ground-breaking work that the University of the Negev, was doing to uplift Africa.” READ BEN’s FULL ARTICLE

The deputy head of mission at the Israeli embassy in Pretoria, Michael Freeman, would not comment on the issue saying it was a “government to government” matter.

And, while neither the South African government nor the ruling ANC have spoken out publicly on the matter, everyone else has. The SA arm of the US-based NGO Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (Israel) – BDS-SA, insisted at a media briefing on Monday that the International Relations and Co-operation department should expel the Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk within ten days.

Blade making point


RIGHT: South Africa's Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande and his party were denied visas

The ultimatum – which seemed to be aimed more at the ANC and the government to come out in support of them support BDS-SA than at the embassy – basically said that if SA did not kick out the ambassador, BDS-SA and their allies would march on the Pretoria embassy and kick out the ambassador themselves.

Israel’s refusal to issue Nzimande a visa, said BDS-SA, was an insult to the SA government.

Hiding behind what they referred to as “a grouping of tripartite alliance members, civil society groups, student, youth organisations, and academics”, BDS-SA insisted that Israel grant Nzimande and three other officials visas to visit Palestine.

"Let us be very clear, Minister Blade Nzimande's support for the Palestinian struggle and boycott of Israel is not a personal position but representative of the resolutions of the various organisations that he is a leader of - mainly the SACP and ANC,” said the group.

Nzimande is a political heavyweight and deeply entrenched in President Jacob Zuma’s inner circle. He was also, while wearing his cap as the SACP secretary-general, instrumental in ensuring that the Dalai Lama not be given a visa to come to SA to celebrate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday, widely believed to have been a political move to appease China.

That exclusion caused a rift between Tutu and the ANC that endures to this day.

"It is wrong for the Israeli government to try and suggest that Dr Nzimande is acting on his personal whims when supporting the freedom of the Palestinian people."

The anti-Israel lobby appears to be trying to force government’s hand in this matter, directing their ultimatums to government rather than Israel.

The situation that has prevailed since the present government came to power in 2009, has been that the idealists at Cosatu and Luthuli House have backed the anti-Israel lobby, while the government and Parliament have followed a more pragmatic approach – growing trade with Israel several-fold, and with an ever-growing trade surplus to boot! READ: SA MAKING MINT OUT OF ISRAEL

Blade - SAUJS
SpotlightingSA's take on the issue

7 Comments

  1. 7 nat cheiman 28 Apr
    Minister of Higher Education. MUCH HIGHER than we all think. The man is smoking zol if he thinks Israel is losing sleep over him.
    Somebody should tell him that right now, with Marikana, Xenophobia, Eskom, Zuma and his 100 wives at Nkandla, South Africa is the polecat of the world. Even Russia and Ukraine are ahead of us.
    What a jerk!!!!!!
  2. 6 Madulla 29 Apr
    Is there ANY country in the world that has a so-called "Minister" as stupid as Nzimande? Does this midget actually realize that Israel is up there with the superpowers? How many more times must South Africa be embarrassed by these ANC miscreants?
    Thank you Israel. Nzimande thinks that he is above the law just because he rides around in million rand cars, stays in the best hotels and has an unlimited budget on his credit card - paid for by tax payers.
    This goof-ball is in the position that he occupies because of one reason only - HE IS BLACK and belongs to the ANC. The most racist party in the world is right here in SA and they are proud of this fact.
  3. 5 shmuel 30 Apr
    ANC Minister Blade Nzimande didn't get a visa to enter   'Palestine" cause no such state exists,unless he got confused and meant Arab "Palestine" east of the River Jordan,November 29 1947,UN mandate,but that's a request from the Jordanian Embassy in Amman,not from Israel !
  4. 4 Gayle 30 Apr
    Perhaps it's time to point out that Jews can also be angry: angry at the way Jews here in SA and elsewhere are constantly being maligned; angry at the way Israel is demonised daily; angry at the fact that history is being distorted so as to airbrush Jews out of their own historical and religious homeland ... the list goes on and on. So, as a result, Blade Nzimande can now see what it feels like to be marginalised.
  5. 3 Roy Slavin 15 May
    Having lived in the USA for almost 30 years, I am still amazed at the reactions of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and SA Zionist Federation (Fed) to SA Israel affairs.  Of course its all politics, and both of these organizations have to toe the line. However toeing the line makes NO sense.  Almost all of the people in power in South Africa are NOT supporters of Israel.  Israel has every right to refuse a visa to anyone.
  6. 2 Michael Rootshtain 15 May
    Watching and listening to the video clip it is clear that the Blade Nzimande and his group do not recognise the State of Israel (they refer to a refusal to grant a visa for Palestine wherever that may be). The ANC and the SA government have continuously discouraged members to visit Israel and when our Johannesburg mayor visited Israel they refused to see Israeli officials.
    As a self respecting State, Israel does not have to put up with these open insults and still be expected to facilitate travelling arrangements.
    If the Board of Deputies and the Zionist Fed disagree, let them deal directly with the Israeli Ambassador quietly. To make public statements that the Israel Government needs to consult with them before making decisions is the height of chutzpah.
    It is high time that Israel stopped putting up with blatant insults based on ignorance. Well done Israel!
  7. 1 Ernest Kahn 25 Oct
    Why does the big f****** mouth Blade (not) go through Jordan or Egypt ?

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