South African gov’t minister accused of scapegoating Israel

PRETORIA, South Africa (JTA) — South Africa’s Zionist federation accused the country’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Marius Fransman, of scapegoating Israel in a pro-Palestinian speech.

David Hersch, head of the Cape Town South African Israel Public Affairs Committee, accused Fransman of ”using Israel as a time-proven and convenient scapegoat and motivator.”

Speaking at a political gathering last weekend at the Western Cape, Fransman included the Palestinians on a list of countries fighting against the ”brutal iron fist of imperialism,” referring to Israel.

He also talked about the steps taken by the ruling African National Congress in the last year in support of the Palestinian cause, mentioning as an example the proposal by Trade Minister Rob Davies last month to ban the labeling of goods produced in the West Bank as originating in Israel.

Fransman emphasized how important it was for the ANC to develop strong relations with the Muslim community, saying that the provincial government had ”close” relations with Israel while local Muslims are strongly attached to the Palestinian cause.

”We are concerned about this relationship with Israel,” he said.

He also told the conference that South Africa will use all its multilateral tools in favor of the Palestinian cause.

Hersch warned in a statement of the possible consequences of such policies, saying that all these implications do not bode well for the Jewish community in South Africa. Hersch referred also to the cancellation of the visit of the South African agriculture minister last month to the Israeli Agri-tech biennial forum.

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