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Pandor’s call for protest outside embassies causes alarm



Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Dr Naledi Pandor has called on South Africans to protest outside foreign embassies that she claims support Israel in its war against Hamas.

“If you have a few hours, could you take your time and just make a poster? The poster should read ‘Stop genocide’, and go and stand outside five embassies,” Pandor told a Palestinian solidarity event in Laudium, Pretoria, in March.

“There are five primary supporters of Israel – I’m not going to name them for you, you must do your work. As the women in black did for us when we were fighting apartheid, stand up and petition, stand up and protest, stand up and be visible, every day.”

Political analysts were shocked at the audacity of her statement.

“I’ve been studying international relations for almost 30 years, and I’ve never encountered something like this,” said Hussein Solomon, senior professor in the department of political science at the University of the Free State. “It almost seems like Naledi Pandor doesn’t know if she’s an activist or the South African foreign minister. Moreover, beyond Gaza, at a time when our foreign relations with key trading partners are at its lowest point, she seems to be jeopardising these trade relations. Let’s not forget that we need these trading partners even more so now because of the state of our economy.”

“Mrs Pandor is charging full steam ahead in her delusional way, causing more damage to South Africa, the African National Congress [ANC], and her own reputation,” said Dr Glen Segell, the visiting professor and research fellow at the University of the Free State and research fellow at the Ezri Center for Iran and Gulf States Research at the University of Haifa.

“No doubt she’s motivated to pursue her attack to distract from the ANC’s slide in popular support after 31 years in power and expected even poorer results in this May’s elections, her department’s failure to win the December case in the International Court of Justice, the imminent victory of Israel over her ally and financial sponsor Hamas, and her own ego,” he said.

This was only one of the shocking things Pandor said at this meeting.

She also threatened dual South African-Israeli citizens who may be serving in the Israel Defense Forces by saying, “When you come home, we’ll arrest you!”

And she said there wasn’t “a shred of evidence” that United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) employees committed atrocities, and urged her audience to keep sending money.

She also unapologetically stated that as a diplomat, she couldn’t stand with Hamas, and she had to call for the release of the hostages, but claimed Hamas’s actions were understandable as “resistance”. In addition, she said the Palestinians were the same as the “freedom fighters” who fought apartheid.

However, the comment that caused the most alarm was her call on her large audience to protest outside foreign embassies every day.

It’s assumed she meant the embassies of the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Daily Maverick reported that some foreign diplomats have protested to the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco), and will formally request police protection in accordance with the Vienna Convention. One foreign diplomat said that by encouraging protests at embassies, Pandor had created the potential for violence against them.

“Not even Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, Saddam Hussein’s former foreign minister and propaganda minister, or even Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda, could have stooped so low as to threaten foreign embassies in their own country by having protests outside them,” said Segell.

“Should one be damaged or a diplomat injured, there would be a mass exit from South Africa of all diplomatic staff from all embassies for security reasons. Tourism would plummet, and the economy would suffer.

“Mrs Pandor has now gone beyond antisemitism or anti-Zionism,” he said. “If she was in any European country or the United States, she would be charged criminally with incitement and provocation. I’m afraid that if the ANC loses the May elections, Mrs Pandor’s call for protest infers that the ANC won’t go quietly into opposition.”

Steven Gruzd, political analyst and the head of African Governance and Diplomacy Programme and the Russia-Africa Project at the South African Institute of International Affairs, said, “It’s highly unusual for a minister of state to be telling people to go and protest outside other embassies. There’s the potential for diplomats or their premises to be affected, or something worse. It’s irresponsible.

“This may be another incident that pushes South Africa further away from Western countries, and there’s always the threat that our trade concessions through the African Growth and Opportunity Act [AGOA] could be withdrawn by the Americans. We don’t know what the last straw is going to be, but this has the potential to really irritate Western countries and their embassies in South Africa.

“This has the potential to draw South Africa even closer to countries of the Global South that oppose Western values and actions, especially on the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” said Gruzd.

Professor Karen Milner, the national chairperson of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, said, “Pandor’s comments are indicative of her obsessiveness with Israel. They are also highly inappropriate. As the minister of foreign affairs, she has plenty of tools at her disposal to engage with parties with whom she disagrees. Instead, she’s rabble rousing and attempting to interfere with other countries’ foreign policy. Her inability to put South African interests before her own personal crusade never fails to amaze.”

Benji Shulman, the director of public policy at the South African Zionist Federation, said, “Minister Pandor continues to embarrass South Africa. Not only has she attacked Israel, she’s putting our relationships with all our democratic country partners at risk.

“Recently, on a tour of the United States, she denied that Iran was an authoritarian state and continued to defend South Africa’s support of Russia,” he said. “The ANC-led government continues to act as the legal arm of Hamas and Iran, wasting taxpayers’ money and ignoring the spread of Islamist extremism on the African continent.”

The SA Jewish Report reached out to all five embassies in question. David Feldmann, the spokesperson at the United States Embassy in South Africa, declined to comment. However, German Embassy spokesperson Dr Christopher Schmidt, said, “We’re following the situation closely. We trust that the security of the embassy will be guaranteed by Dirco and the relevant authorities in accordance with the Vienna Convention.”

Spokespersons from the United Kingdom, Canadian, and French embassies didn’t respond by the time of going to print.

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  1. Gary Selikow

    Mar 29, 2024 at 10:51 am

    This woman is evil. The USA, Britain, Canada, Australia and EU countries should merely severe diplomatic and trade and aid relations with South Africa and see how the ANC regime copes.

  2. Barak Attar

    Mar 31, 2024 at 10:24 am

    The greatest of them all, Irena Kirszenstein-Szewińska, has been forgotten

  3. Abigail Sarah

    Apr 4, 2024 at 9:25 pm

    Hee own people live on the street, eat out of dustbins, steal, rape and kill
    And all she obsesses about is Israel and the Jews

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