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S. African Rabbi Blasts ‘Don’t Visit’ Minister

South Africa’s chief rabbi has called on the country’s deputy minister of international relations to resign, saying he is unfit to hold public office.

Earlier this week, South African politician Ebrahim Ebrahim issued a statement saying that South Africans would be discouraged from visiting Israel unless they were involved in peace efforts.

In an open letter published Friday in Business Day and The Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Warren Goldstein wrote, “As a citizen and as a national religious leader of South Africa, I object to the way in which you are abusing your high office to promote your own personal agenda. You obviously have a ‘blind spot’ when it comes to Israel; you lose your sense of objectivity and rationality when dealing with the Jewish state.”

Goldstein named the recent development as “but one example of your irrational obsession with Israel to the detriment of the proper execution of your governmental duties. You have acted in breach of your government’s own foreign policy, in terms of which South Africa and Israel have full diplomatic relations.”

Comparing Ebrahim’s action to “apartheid-style control of information and censorship,” Goldstein suggested that the deputy minister is “afraid – and rightly so – that if people go to Israel and see the situation for themselves, their perspective will be completely different” and they “will see that there is no apartheid in Israel.”

He added, “Your actions to discourage South Africans from travelling to Israel are but one manifestation of your extremist views. In so doing you are jeopardizing South Africa’s international credibility and strategic interests.”

As examples of the deputy minister’s bias, the Jewish leader noted the politician’s failure to condemn human rights abuses in fellow-African countries such as Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan.

He added, “You have been too hesitant and weak in condemning Syrian President Assad’s actions which have resulted in the deaths of more than 20,000 of his citizens and the displacement of nearly 150,000 refugees.”

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