Ebrahim Moosa – Cii News | 06 September 2012
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has hailed as a “positive development” a meeting it facilitated between Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Derek Hanekom and visiting Israeli Minister of Science and Technology Daniel Hershkowitz.
Writing on the Board’s website, Mary Kluk, Chairman of the SAJBD, said the visit was a welcome relief to the organisation amidst reports of ongoing inroads made by the BDS lobby in South Africa. “It was gratifying to see this meeting take place so soon after Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim’s recent call for South Africans not even to visit Israel, let alone meet with Israelis at an official level,” she said.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Herschkowitz had been invited to South Africa by the South African Zionist Federation and other Jewish organizations, celebrating the Mizrahi religious Zionist organization’s 80 years of activity.
The minister reportedly met with hundreds of leaders within the Jewish community, and with many business people and South African technology industry representatives, interested in exploring stronger relations with Israeli companies and research institutes.
A special adviser to the Israeli minister told The Jerusalem Post that he had also met with academics and representatives of South African universities – meetings which, he reported, were all conducted in a cordial and friendly manner.
Regarding his meeting with Hanekom, Herschkowitz’s adviser emphasized that the interaction with the deputy minister was very successful.
“We managed to break the ice and to speak openly, in a friendly and constructive manner,” he was quoted as saying.
The two men discussed the situation in the Middle East and bilateral relations. Hershkowitz invited his South African counterpart to visit Israel. He said Hanekom spoke of his last visit to Israel several years ago – as a young volunteer at Kibbutz Tzora, near Beit Shemesh. He also purportedly expressed his willingness to come again, in order to further South African- Israeli collaboration.
Israeli diplomats told the Post that the visit of the minister proved helpful and productive in working towards better relations between Pretoria and Jerusalem. Cii was unable to reach a spokesperson for the Ministry of Science and Technology for comment at the time of publishing.
Earlier this month, Deputy Minister for International Relations Ebrahim Ebrahim, discouraged South Africans from visiting Israel unnecessarily.
“Israel is an occupier country which is oppressing Palestine, so it is not proper for South Africans to associate with Israel unless the visit is associated with the peace process,” he said, according to a report in the City Press.
In a speech to the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) this week, Ebrahim reiterated the South African government’s call for a more assertive international position towards achieving justice for Palestine. He however cautioned that South Africa’s strong support for Palestine should not in any way be interpreted as being anti-Israeli. “What we oppose are policies and actions of occupation, not the existence of Israel or the right of Israeli citizens to live in peace and security.”Daniel Hershkowitz, Derek Hanekom, Ebrahim Ebrahim, Ebrahim Moosa, Israel, Jewsih Board of Deputies