There were murmurings last night by a section of the crowd at the South African Jewish Board of Deputies biennial national conference in Johannesburg’s Gold Reef City casino when President Jacob Zuma called for the establishment of a sovereign Palestine state.
“We believe that the key to peace in the Middle-East will be the establishment of a sovereign Palestine state … with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Zuma said. “That can only become true by peaceful negotiations by all affected parties without any pre-conditions.”
But this did not go down well with a section of the crowd. Zuma said the government holds the view that the support of Palestine people is not against the existence and safety of the Israel people.
He said the ANC was aware that the visit of Hamas to South Africa caused concerns within the Jewish community. “We have noted that it is concerning that he was given treatment that you felt did not necessarily help the situation,” said Zuma.
“But we believe as South Africa we can play a role and in the process of making stronger interaction with both sides.” Last month, Hamas established a party-to-party relationship with the ANC.
Khaled Meshaal, a Hamas top official, and other top officials from the Palestinian group met with ANC bigwigs including Zuma at Luthuli House. The Jewish community had raised concerns about the manner in which Hamas was received by the ANC.
Zuma said it was difficult to imagine peace in the world without the achievement of peace in the Middle-East. “We meet during a difficult period with regards to global peace and security,”said the president.
‘The organised attacks in Paris have brought sharp focus onto the problem of global terrorism.” The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, condemned “terrorist organisations” like Hamas.
“They continue to call for the destruction of Israel,” said Lauder. “I believe South Africa can engage all parties and explain why violence should be rejected.” He said South Africa represents a beacon of hope in the troubled world. Lauder added that blacks and Jews have suffered terrible discrimination.
“Israel is open to everyone,” he said. “It is not an apartheid state.” French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy blasted the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, labelling it a fascist movement led by idiots. In attendance were former president Kgalema Motlanthe, billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe and Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.