The president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has apologized to the Central African Jewish Board of Deputies for his recent remark calling Jews “hard-hearted.”
Mugabe issued the apology in the Zimbabwe capital of Harare at a meeting with a three-member delegation from the board, led by its vice president, Stanley Harris. The apology made headline news on Zimbabwe television, following an outcry from Jews and non-Jews alike when the remark was first reported.
The delegation expressed satisfaction with the meeting, saying Mugabe’s handling of the situation was in keeping with his friendly attitude to Jews over the past 12 years.
“The matter is now closed,” said Harris.
Mugabe had made his controversial remark while criticizing white farmers in a drought-stricken area for not letting poor people graze their cattle there. He had said, “These people are now behaving like Jews, hard-hearted Jews.”
Mugabe reiterated his previous explanation that he had been referring to West Bank settlers – particularly during the previous government of Likud’s Yitzhak Shamir.
Mugabe sent good wishes to the new premier, Yitzhak Rabin, saying that under the Labor Party there is a better chance for peace in the Middle East.