Lieberman urges S. Africa’s Jews to emigrate before it’s too late

Avigdor Lieberman, former Israeli minister of foreign affairs
Avigdor Lieberman, former Israeli minister of foreign affairs

Former Israeli foreign minister says ‘pogrom’ against Jews is just a matter of time

A senior Israeli politician on Sunday urged South Africa’s Jews to leave their homes and emigrate to Israel in the wake of critical comments against Israel by the interior minister there.

The South African government is creating an ant-Israeli and anti-Semitic atmosphere, which means that a pogrom against the country’s Jews is just a matter of time,” former foreign minister and Yisrael Beiteinu party leader Avigdor Lieberman wrote on his Facebook page. “I call on all the Jews still living there to immigrate to Israel without delay, before it’s too late.”

Lieberman’s fiery comments followed an announcement by South Africa’s International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane that South African ministers will no longer visit Israel out of solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

“Ministers of South Africa do not visit Israel currently. Even the Jewish Board of Deputies that we engage with here, they know why our ministers are not going to Israel,” she said Friday at a trade union meeting.

“Our Palestinian friends have never asked us to disengage with Israel [through severing diplomatic relations]. They had asked us in formal meetings to not engage with the regime. We have agreed to slow down and curtail senior leadership contact with that regime until things begin to look better,” she said.

Nkoana-Mashabane said she felt solidarity with the Palestinians, saying, “The struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle.”

South Africa also slammed Israel’s plans to build new settler homes in east Jerusalem, as pro-Palestinian activists launched an international campaign for the release of political prisoners.

“That arrangement there in Palestine keeps us awake,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

“The last time I looked at the map of Palestine, I could not go to sleep. It’s dots, smaller than those of the homelands,” she said referring to the former homelands in South Africa — which were also known as bantustans — created under apartheid to give blacks a sense of autonomy.

South Africa was chosen by pro-Palestinian activists for the launch of an international lobby seeking the release of 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners, including veteran leader Marwan Barghouti, who is currently in Israeli detention.

The campaign kicked off on Oct. 25 at Robben Island, the former prison where anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela served 18 of his 27 years in jail.

“The Palestinian quest for self-determination remains unfulfilled,” said South Africa’s top diplomat.

Since the fall of the whites-only apartheid regime in 1994, South Africa has been an outspoken critic of Israel, although it maintains diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

There is a Jewish population of rougly 75,000 people in South Africa, mosltly in the large cities of Johanesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

Last week, vandals desecrated 32 graves in the Jewish cemetery of Krugersdorp. – i24news