Zulu king returns from trip an advocate of Israel
Nkosi Zwelakhe Mthethwa, a descendant of King Shaka, said, “The Jews are not going to suffer under our watch. In South Africa, we control the vote of our masses. We need to begin to vote according to our heritage as Christians.”
He formed part of a high-ranking delegation of local Christian leaders and dignitaries who recently returned from an information gathering trip to Israel.
In an interview on Channel 2 on Israel National News last week, Mthethwa said there would be changes in attitude towards Israel in South Africa following their visit to the country.
“Definitely, we will see a change, because we are from civil society, and what we are witnessing here we needed to see for ourselves, first hand, without hearing from the television.”
He said that during his visit, there had “not been any threats, and for me this is a new paradigm. What we are seeing here is peace, there’s quietness and there’s stability.”
The visit, which took place from 11 to 17 August, was arranged by the South African Friends of Israel (SAFI) and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the sake of “cohesion”. Their intention, said SAFI’s Mark Hyman, was to “bringing back advocates for Israel across the political divide, representing political parties, Christians, and civil society”.
Amongst those invited was Sibongile Cele, the Deputy Chair of the ANC Women’s League Ward 125 in Johannesburg, who described her trip as “a life changing, inspirational, very emotional experience”.
She was joined by Cornelius Raseobi, the President of the Youth League of the Congress of the People (Cope); Pastor Julius Moloi, the President of Christian Ministers Council of Southern Africa; and a number of apostles, pastors, and influential Christian leaders representing Christian communities throughout South Africa.
In the interview, Mthethwa said he did not know BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) activists and they did “not employ my thoughts”.
“I understand there are people who have an interest in saying that there is apartheid, but without coming here, they simply feed on the media,” he said.
He expressed gratitude for being able to visit Israel during the 200th anniversary of the death of King Dingiswayo, the leader of the Paramount Kingdom of the Mthethwas.
“I landed in Israel during trying times whereby the people of G-d are being persecuted. I came to lend my voice of support that as a believer myself, I can’t keep quiet. I will mobilise Christians all over the world to support, because this place [Israel] is our tangible and intangible heritage site.”
He said all Christians needed to visit Israel “to see for themselves”.
“Our people are struggling under democracy… it is clear that we need G-d… and it’s the G-d of Israel. That is the heritage we have been left with.”
The group’s itinerary included a visit to Nazareth, Israel’s largest Arab city located in the Galilee region, where they visited a number of important Christian sites. They toured Jaffa, and ate dinner with members of the Ethiopian community.
They visited the Knesset, and met MK Hilik Bar, of the Zionist Union Party. They also met Bassem Eid, a Palestinian, Jerusalem-based political analyst, human-rights activist, and commentator on Arab and Palestinian affairs.
They visited S’derot, located less than a mile from Gaza, known as the “bomb shelter capital of the world”.
They were briefed by a spokesperson from the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) overlooking the border with Gaza. They visited Kibbutz Netiv Hasara, very close to the Gaza border, and spoke to locals living there. They visited Palestinian towns, and met local Israelis, Arab Israelis, and Palestinians.
Apart from touring the Old City of Jerusalem and all the holy sites, they visited Yad Vashem, and met children from various African countries undergoing life-saving operations at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon as part of the work of the Save a Child’s Heart Foundation. They also met patients injured in the Syrian war at the Ziv Medical Center in northern Israel, and visited the Peres Centre for Peace in Jaffa.
Many expressed their appreciation in WhatsApp messages.
Cisca Adamson of networking group, the Global Business Roundtable, said: “We had an unforgettable experience and fruitful meetings. We appreciate your efforts, and making it possible for future collaboration between South Africa and Israel.”
Said one of the participants, Pastor Andrew Mutondoro, “What a glorious, eye opening trip it was for me. Indeed, it proved that people perish for lack of knowledge. There are so many excellent facts about the State of Israel that I did not know. For example, I never knew anything about the city of Sderot on the border with Gaza. Gaza benefits so much from this city, yet Hamas militants bomb it, biting the hand that feeds them!”
Cele, who describes herself as “Christian first”, said she was particularly moved by her visit to Kibbutz Lavi in the Galilee. “This has inspired me to come back home and set up eco villages for rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal. We are setting up an avocado agricultural farm to build communities by alleviating poverty and creating jobs. We will do this through sustainable projects, using state-of-the-art technology from the state of Israel.”
At the Ziv Medical Center, she said delegates prayed at the bedside of a 15-year-old boy who was recovering from an operation to restore his foot injured in the Syrian conflict.
“If the group learnt anything, it was that Israel was not created in order to disappear,” said Hyman. “Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope, and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity, nor demoralised by success. It carries the shield of democracy, and it honours the sword of freedom.”