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DA leadership meeting top Israeli leaders this week




In a story titled: After Zuma says not to visit Israel, SA opposition head makes trip anyhow, the Jerusalem Post scooped other Israeli and South African  media houses in making the announcement.

Media bibi JTA homeSA Jewish Report’s acting editor, Suzanne Belling, and the writer, were aware that the visit was taking place and had undertaken to embargo the story until their return next Monday, on condition that it went unreported and out of the public domain. Alas, this was not to be.

RIGHT: Israeli PM Netanyahu who is one of those meeting SA opposition leaders this week

The hush-hush trip had originally been reported by Rahael Ahren in the Times of Israel on 28 December, in which he laid out Netanyahu’s busy diplomatic diary for January. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s diplomatic schedule for the next few weeks is chock-a-block with encounters with top foreign dignitaries,” reported Ahren, and that in January alone Netanyahu would meet “two presidents, one chancellor, two prime ministers and three foreign ministers (who) are planning visits to Israel. Ahren quoted the Foreign Ministry. “In addition, heads of parliaments, ministers, deputy ministers, MPs and a US governor are scheduled to make their way to Jerusalem,” he added.

“Mmusi Maiman (sic!), the head of South Africa’s opposition and leader of the country’s Democratic Alliance party,” was also on the list, said the December report.

Maimane, whom the Jerusalem Post referred to as the “charismatic leader” of South Africa’s opposition, is currently on a low-profile, private visit to Israel, just two days after South African President Jacob Zuma called on his countrymen not to visit Israel.

Bagraim MichaelMaimane is known to be accompanied by Michael Bagraim, according to J-Post, but JR Online has established from sources close to the matter that two other senior DA MPs are also on the visit. At the time of publication JR Online did not have the names of the other MPs.

LEFT: Michael ‘Bags’ Bagraim is a past two-term chair and president of the national SA Jewish Board of Deputies and Chair of the Cape Chamber of Commerce

The visit was not formally organised by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, though it did facilitate setting up meetings, reported J-Post.

A diplomatic official said that the visit is part of efforts by both Israel and pro-Israel supporters in South Africa to develop positive relations with key figures in the country, whose current leader, Jacob Zuma, “has taken stridently anti-Israel positions,” said the Post.

While the DA, under the previous leadership of Helen Zille, took a strong “hands-off” policy regarding Israel, Maimane has been described by diplomatic officials as having an “open mind” on Israel.

Zuma reiterated support for Palestine Sunday

Tuesday’s announcement came in the wake of an Arutz Sheva story on Monday headlined: “South African President: Don’t visit Israel.”

At the Sunday celebration in Soweto marking the ANC’s 105th anniversary, Zuma had said that “the people of Palestine continue to suffer in their rightful quest for self-determination.” The ANC, he said, “pledges its ongoing solidarity and support for their just cause.

“We reiterate that we firmly discourage travel to Israel for causes not related to fostering peace in the region. We call for unity in Palestine and support UN Security Council resolution 2334 of December 2016.”

Swazi PM HOMEBut Africa is high on Israel’s agenda – and relations with SA are growing rapidly.

RIGHT: JR Online reported this week on Swazi, Israeli PMs meet on expanding relations while Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma arrived in Israel Tuesday for a four-day visit, the first by a Sierra Leonean president

That trip comes amid a strengthening of ties between Israel and many African countries.

Netanyahu visited east Africa last year – the first visit there by a sitting Israeli prime minister since 1987 – and is scheduled to visit West Africa sometime later this year.

Koroma is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu today to discuss improving bilateral relations. The Sierra Leone President has previously expressed his highly very appreciative position on Israel’s assistance in fighting Ebola, which hit the country hard. Israel gave R140 million (at today’s exchange rate) to the Ebola aid fund – the sixth-largest contribution in the world, and the largest per capita donor. Israel also sent sent field hospitals to countries such as Sierra Leone, struck by the plague. Some 4,000 Sierra Leoneans were killed by the disease.

Just last month JR Online reported how the United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO) rated IDF field hospitals the world’s best – even having to create a new category for them.

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  1. nat cheiman

    Jan 11, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    ‘DA will show the ANC a thing or two’

  2. mordechai

    Jan 12, 2017 at 12:38 am

    ‘The silence from the Chief Rabbi, other Rabbinic leaders, Secular leaders and your paper relating to Zuma telling South African’s not to visit Israel is both deafening and Disgracefull’

  3. Mordechai

    Jan 13, 2017 at 1:54 am

    ‘My message to S A Jewry – LEAVE, LEAVE, LEAVE – Do Not listen to your Rabbinic and lay leadership….there is no future for you and more importantly your children and grand children in South Africa’

  4. Choni

    Jan 13, 2017 at 7:02 am

    ‘You are right Mordechai, but you should add that this applies to every country outside of Israel.’

  5. ilana

    Jan 14, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    ‘Is the Board of Deputies going to demand a meeting with Zuma regarding his remarks about not visiting Israel??Thank goodness they won’t have another opportunity to invite  him to their next Congress where he was such a hypocrite last time.’

  6. Mordechai

    Jan 17, 2017 at 1:35 am

    ‘Ilana, you got to be kidding – the SA Jewish community leadership is both gutless & spineless’

  7. BDS Works

    Jan 18, 2017 at 6:38 am

    ‘DA LEADER Mmusi Maimane does not agree with Israel’s stance on Palestine, but he is also against the use of violence to solve problems.

    \”It is important to understand and look at the history of Palestine and Israel. I think Israel is wrong. But the resolution does not lie in violence.\”

  8. ilana

    Jan 19, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    ‘Mordechai you are quite correct. The Board of Deputies was spineless before 1994 not wanting to tread on any toes and it continues to be completely spineless. Not a peep from them objecting to Zuma’s instructions…..’

  9. nat cheiman

    Jan 20, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    ‘BDS works. You are wrong. Clearly, the solution does in fact require assertiveness, perhaps in the form of the IDF banishing the palestinians from judea & samarea.

    By force, if required ‘

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