Former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman urged South African Jews to immigrate to Israel on Sunday, following incendiary comments by that country’s international relations minister.
Writing on his Facebook page, Lieberman said the South African government is creating an anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic atmosphere, which means that a pogrom against the country’s Jews is now all-but inevitable.
“I call on all the Jews still living there to immigrate to Israel without delay, before it’s too late,” he stated emphatically.
On Friday South Africa’s Interior Minister, Maite Nkaona-Mashabane, turned heads with comments critical of Israel, saying “The struggle of the people of Palestine is [the South African’s] struggle.”
“Our Palestinian friends have never asked us to disengage with Israel [through cutting diplomatic relations]. They had asked us in formal meetings to not engage with the regime,” she said at a trade union meeting.
“Ministers of South Africa do not visit Israel currently. Even the Jewish Board of Deputies that we engage with here, they know why our ministers are not going to Israel,” she added.
Nkoana-Mashabane also said that South Africa has “agreed to slow down and curtail senior leadership contact with that regime until things begin to look better.”
Going one step further, Nkoana-Mashabane said the issue has become troubling to her personally.
“The last time I looked at the map of Palestine, I could not go to sleep. It is just dots, smaller than those of the homelands, and that broke my heart,” she said, referring to the bantustans that existed in South Africa during the apartheid era.
In the course of her comments, Nkaona-Mashabane’s also termed Palestinian Authority terrorists in Israeli jails “political prisoners” and praised Iran for its “respect for human rights.”
Lieberman accused her of hypocrisy, writing: “The same government that just one year ago, its police indiscriminately shot and killed 34 miners because they ‘dared’ to strike, and afterward the government even wanted to bring the miners who survived to trial using a law from the days of Apartheid, the same government that does not get involved, and is not concerned by, what happens with its neighbors – not the murder of journalists in Mali, or the terrorist attacks in Kenya – is concerned by what is happening to the Palestinians thousands of kilometers away.”