Deputy Minister Fatima Hajaig’s Statement on Antisemitism
I have just returned from a visit to Japan and learned of the controversy surrounding some comments that I was purported to have made. I have reviewed the proceedings of the meeting, and wish to state the following:
Throughout my life I have been opposed to apartheid, and all forms of racism. It is this opposition that drove me into exile, and to work with the African National Congress (ANC) for decades.
Along with all in the ANC, and consistent with the recent Resolutions adopted at our Polokwane Conference in December 2007, I have long been cognisant of the immense suffering that the Palestinians have experienced in the form of expulsions, collective punishment, and massacres (of which the recent war in Gaza is but the latest example). It is to this suffering that I spoke at the meeting.
I deplore the attempts of Zionists to justify policies that have worsened the crisis in the Middle East, in particular unmitigated state violence directed against unarmed civilians; as much as I deplore indiscriminate attacks against Israeli unarmed civilians.
At a singular point in my talk, and entirely unrelated to any South African community, I conflated Zionist pressure with Jewish influence. I regret the inference made by some, that I am anti-Jewish. I do not believe that the cause of the Palestinians is served by anti-Jewish racism.
As a member of the South African Government and a committed member of the ANC I subscribe to the values and principles of non-racialism, and condemn without equivocation, all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism in all its manifestations and wherever it may occur.
To the extent that my statement may have caused hurt and pain, I offer an unequivocal apology for the pain it may have caused to the people of our country, and the Jewish community in particular.
I wish to reiterate that the major issue in relation to the Palestine-Israel conflict is the enormous suffering of the Palestinian people, and the struggle for peace for all its people based on justice and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike. As Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, I re-affirm the Government’s commitment to engage all parties, in Israel and Palestine to find an amicable and just resolution to the conflict in that region.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
3 February 2009