‘Don’t bulldoze me’ Sisa tells anti-Israel activists
Watch the video of the hooligan-like behaviour of the anti-Israeli crowd who were inflamed by the Ambassador’s refernce to three Jewish boys killed while hiking, despite the fact that he was in no way taking a pro-Israel stance
When South African Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane addressed a media conference at OR Tambo Airport last week Friday, he was nearly brought to tears of frustration when anti-Israel activists shouted him down – all because he mentioned the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths in 2014.
Ngombane had escorted radical anti-Israel activist Leigh-Ann Naidoo home after securing her release from an Israeli prison – to ensure she was not harassed on the El Al flight. Naidoo, who is also a South African volleyball player, was one of the all-female crew arrested while attempting to violate the security blockade imposed jointly by Egypt and Israel on the Gaza Strip.
RIGHT: Ngombane and Naidoo at the press conference
Naidoo appealed for help from the SA Embassy, which arranged for her release and repatriation. Ngombane was there to present a statement by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) on the incident.
When Ngombane attempted to provide a bit of context to the conflict – noting the kidnapping and murder of three young Jews by Arab terrorists in 2014 – anti-Israel activists present at the reception shouted him down, chanting “Free, free Palestine” and “Down, down Israel”.
Shocked by the sudden outburst and unable to overcome the noise produced by the activists, Ngombane shifted back to the official statement, which in essence read that: “As a nation, we are proud of Ms Naidoo for putting her life on the line to help those whose situations are worse than hers.”
Speaking on behalf of the Board on Monday, Wendy Kahn issued a strong statement regarding the incident. “It was with a sense of déjà vu that the SAJBD witnessed SA Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane, being shouted down and abused when trying to speak at a press conference,” she said. “For years, it has been apparent that those bent on demonising Israel at every opportunity cannot bear it when others presume to present a different narrative.”
Several activists attempted to cut Ngombane off. But, while visibly shaken, the ambassador shot back angrily: “Don’t bulldoze me!”, leading to another shouting match.
“I respect women, but don’t bulldoze me,” the ambassador repeated, “No, no, no,” he kept shouting, “I’m not a small boy.”
Ziyad Pattel, a lawyer for the “Women’s Boat to Gaza”, said that the ambassador “must understand that this is a pro-Palestinian event” and he has no right to say anything other than the sanctioned Dirco statement.
‘Flotidiot press conference turned into a fiasco’
The event was broadcast live (see video above) by a Muslim media house and has stirred up controversy from the left, right and centre:
“South African flotidiot press conference turned into a fiasco” read the headline on an Elder of Ziyon blog.
“BDS South Africa is, together with other activists, shocked by the conduct of Ngombane,” said the organisation afterwards, accusing him of being at odds with government policy.
“We are even more concerned by the biased pro-Israeli views expressed by Ngombane,” they continued.
Writing on Salaamedia, Azhar Vadi said Ngombane had “let loose in an almost drunken stupour”.
In the end it was left to a somewhat bewildered Leigh-Ann Naidoo to graciously bring the impasse to a halt and the ambassador handed over the microphone and left the room.