Wiesenthal Centre to UN Human Rights Commissioner and World Council of Churches: "South African Government Minister's and Church Official's Antisemitism Are Precursors for Durban II"

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Wiesenthal Centre to UN Human Rights Commissioner and World Council of Churches: "South African Government Minister's and Church Official's Antisemitism Are Precursors for Durban II"

Paris, 2 February 2009

In letters to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Madam Navanethem Pillay, and the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev Samuel Kobia, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, called for their condemnation of antisemitic incitement in South Africa.

At a rally of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) last month in Lenasia, Deputy Foreign Minister Fatima Hajaig, representing the African National Congress (ANC) Government, stated: "America is in the grip of Jewish money power... No matter what Government comes to power, whether Republican or Democratic [sic], whether Barack Obama or George Bush. The control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money, and if Jewish money controls their country, then you cannot expect anything else."

Another speaker was Eddie Makue, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches. Samuels noted that, "this ostensible church leader, reportedly, called 'Jewish brothers and sisters onto the right path... This is a global struggle. We are inviting you to join us in it, otherwise you will be mowed down in the annals of history as people who refuse to support justice and peace.'"

Samuels recalled his own student-activism in the London anti-Apartheid campaign, "during the period of the Rivonia trial of Nelson Mandela and other heroic figures." He views ANC denial of the disproportionate Jewish role in that campaign "as a sad function of reverse racism. Indeed, a year before the Durban conference on Racism, I had proposed to the NGO Forum International Steering Committee (ISC) - to which I had been elected - that those anti-Apartheid champions worldwide be invited to Durban to take pride in the new South Africa. I was surprised to be answered by a COSATU-related activist that 'though a good idea, the guests would be mainly Jewish.'"

The letter pointed to "appeals to ANC President Zuma to condemn, to disassociate the Government and to fire the hatemongering Minister Hajaig remaining unanswered," adding, "it was COSATU that, through SANGOCO (the South African Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition), manipulated the Durban 2001 NGO Forum ISC into a motor of antisemitism. As its only Jewish member, I was, in fact, expelled during the Conference."

The Centre urged the High Commissioner "to call for an investigation into this violation of Jewish human rights in South Africa and to denounce this expression of antisemitism as a precursor of April's forthcoming Durban Review Conference."

Similarly, the Centre demanded that "the World Council of Churches condemn Makue's menacing incitement to hatred and suspend the South African Council of Churches from membership in the WCC until Makue is replaced."

"This is an opportunity for the WCC to speak out for the human rights of their Jewish brethren and truly in support for justice and peace," concluded Samuels.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels at +33.609.77.01.58.