JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 1 (JTA) — In the wake of a political assassination in a South African province and a terrorist attack on a synagogue in Cape Town, South Africa’s deputy president has condemned anti-Semitism and political violence. At a keynote address at a Union of Orthodox Synagogues benefit dinner in Cape Town last week, Thabo Mbeki told some 400 members of the Jewish community: “It is important that we deal firmly with the abuse of any religious faith and the efforts to hide behind any religious fundamentalism to pursue objectives that threaten any of our communities. “Among others, we cannot allow that unacceptable views of anti-Semitism become a platform to justify the launching of a campaign of terror against Jewish citizens of our country.” No one was hurt in the December explosion at the synagogue in a Cape Town suburb, which occurred just after congregants had left the shul following a Chanukah party. Referring to the blast, as well as to the assassination, which took place recently in the KwaZulu-Natal province, Mbeki said, “We must together ensure that we correctly manage our multiethnic, multicultural and multifaith society to ensure that none among us uses the diversity of our society to engulf all of us in unacceptable confrontation and conflict.” Mbeki also cited the Holocaust as “an indelible blight on our century.” At the dinner, which also benefited a social service agency and a South African yeshiva, South African Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris pledged the Jewish community’s support to eradicate the poverty that can contribute to such acts of violence.
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