Dirco’s Setlhapelo praises Israel, SA Jewry

  • yom-haazmaut-2015-Ilan1
Levant Desk ambassador, pictured left, told over 300 guests at the Yom Ha'atzmaut garden party at the Israeli Embassy yesterday about the long and strong ties between the two countries - and the huge and disproportionate contribution SA Jewry had made in building SA and in the struggle. Guests included members of the SA government, the diplomatic corps, Jewish communal organisations and VIPs among SA Jewry.
by ANT KATZ | Apr 30, 2015

Over 300 dignitaries attended the Israeli Ambassador’s annual Yom Ha’atzmaut garden party – traditionally held on the Wednesday after the country’s national day so as not to interfere with local Jewry’s events.

The guests at the posh garden event came from the SA government, the diplomatic corps, Jewish communal organisations and VIPs among SA Jewry.

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Lechaim: Ambassadors Lenk and Setlhapelo toast Israel

The guest speaker was Roy Setlhapelo, director of the Levant desk (which usually refers to Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria) in the Middle East department at Dirco (Department of Foreign Relations and Co-operation) who spoke glowingly of the historic relationship between SA and Israel.

Ambassador Setlhapelo told the guests it was an honour to be able to be part of Israel’s 67th birthday celebrations.

The relationship between South Africa and Israel, Setlhapelo reminded the guests, was a very long-standing one. In fact, said Setlhapelo, SA was one of the League of Nations’ (the UN precursor organisation) members that had voted in favour of the establishment of the Jewish State.

Israel had established one of its earliest consul-general offices in Pretoria in 1949, he said, and upgraded it to a full embassy in 1974. SA had opened its Israeli consul-general’s office in 1972 and followed Israel’s lead by upgrading the diplomatic mission to a full embassy in 1975.

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The KDPS Linksfield choir opened proceedings by singing the national anthems of SA and Israel and, later, entertained guests with a song in Hebrew


 Setlhapelo spoke about the large influx of Eastern European Jewry to SA in the early part of the 20th century, adding that these Jewish SA pioneers had spawned many of the most successful businesses in the country and had a noteworthy impact on SA’s economic growth rate.

He also praised SA Jewry for the enormous part they played in the struggle against Apartheid.

He referred fleetingly to the Palestinian situation, saying that SA and Israel shared a common goal of a two-state solution.

“On behalf of the South African Government,” said Setlhapelo, he congratulated Israel “on the celebration of her 67th birthday.”

ONLINE EDITOR's NOTE: The speech of Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk will be published later in the week on this website. Unfortunately, the Internet at the embassy has crashed.


  1. 2 Lindsey Kann 03 May
    How good to read that someone in the  SAgovernment recognises the importance of Israel and the contributions we have made to this state as well as our own Jewry with their overwhelming contribution to our economy.
    what a great message really we lost a hero may his soul rest in peace you will alwys be remembered Ntate Roy


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