South African Jewry accepts gov’t minister’s apology


CAPE TOWN (JTA) — South African Jewry’s umbrella body accepted an apology from a government minister.

Deputy Foreign Minister Fatima Hajaig at a pro-Palestinian rally on Jan. 14 said "Jewish money" controlled the United States and most Western countries.

Following the Cabinet’s biweekly meeting Wednesday, President Kgalema Motlanthe "held discussions" with Hajaig, who "expressed her deep regret for making the statement," government spokesman Themba Maseko told the Cape Times.

Hajaig accepted that her remarks were contrary to government policy, Maseko said, and she "apologized unreservedly and unequivocally for the comments and agreed to withdraw them unconditionally." The Cabinet reportedly "expressed concern" about Hajaig’s comments, as they were "contrary to the stated policies of this government." Maseko said that no further action would be taken against the minister.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies had rejected an earlier apology, according to a statement released Thursday "on the grounds that she had very clearly avoided addressing, let alone repudiating, the blatantly anti-Semitic sentiments originally expressed by her. The SAJBD is satisfied that her second apology, which came about as a result of the Cabinet’s discussions on the matter and President Motlanthe’s subsequent meeting with the Deputy Minister, constitutes an appropriately unambiguous and unequivocal expression of regret for those statements."

Board chairman Zev Krengel told the Cape Times that he was "very happy with the apology and happy that the Cabinet and the president took it seriously. We can thank the Cabinet and the president for getting her to apologize as she did."

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