The Israeli government on Friday reacted to the South African Communist Party’s (SACP) statement in which it said it would further intensify its campaign against the Israelis after they denied their leader a visa to visit that country. The furore started when Bonginkosi Emmanuel Nzimande, better known as Blade, was denied a visa to visit Israel in the Palestinian Territories. According to the ministry, the purpose of the visit, which comprised the minister and three officials, was for Nzimande to meet with his Israel counterpart and for the two ministers to discuss an implementation plan for the signed agreement and to encourage further academic collaboration among their various academics‚ students and research communities. The visa was apparently denied without a documented explanation but a verbal reason was that the Minister had criticized the Israeli government.
When the visa was denied, literally all hell broke loose and the party issued a statement in which it stated that it was outraged at the decision to deny their leader a visa. Nzimande himself called for what he termed an academic boycott of Israel. In his response to the denial of the visa, the leader of the Communist Party said “The despotic decision by the Israeli government is a declaration of diplomatic aggression on our government. The SACP calls on our government to reciprocate and reject Israeli requests for visits to South Africa.” In addition, Nzimande said that he and his party would continue to call for a boycott, and campaign for sanctions against Israel. Following the action taken by the University of Johannesburg, which had reportedly severed its ties to Israel, Nzimande also said he would encourage the country’s other tertiary institutions “to review and cut their ties with Israeli institutions until Israel fulfils its obligation under international law recognising the borders‚ based on the lines of June 1967‚ with East Jerusalem as its capital”.
In response to these statements made by the SACP, the Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman fired a salvo of words as he said the party was being hypocritical by attacking his government, which he said was a glorious democracy. He further argued that South Africa was getting known as a country where there were issues of violence and racism, adding that: “It was only a few days ago when a violent, racist and harsh attack was directed against immigrants in Johannesburg. During these riots, the South African police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades against other immigrants from neighboring African countries. We all remember the mass killings carried out by the South African police at the Platinum Mine three years ago.” In an apparent coup de grace, Lieberman added, “It is no surprise that the members of the Communist Party prefer the Palestinians to Israel,” calling it “a case of like attracts like.”