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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
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Jewish minister praises Iran
South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils says Tehran's nuclear program 'wise'
South African Minister of Intelligence Services, Ronnie Kasrils, has "praised Iran's wise stand regarding its nuclear program," according a report by the Islamic Republic News Agency.

 

Kasrils, who is Jewish, was in Iran last week as part of an official state visit. Efforts by Ynetnews to reach Kasrils for comment were unsuccessful.

 

The South African government has released an official statement, saying that Kasrils "has had a fruitful meeting with Mr Ali Larijani; Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator. The meeting was held in the spirit of advancing the existing good relations of friendship, co-operation and understanding between the governments and peoples of the two countries."

 

"The two Ministers expressed their satisfaction with their meeting which like the rest of Minister Kasrils' visit to Iran has been a positive one," the statement added.

 

Members of South Africa's Jewish community reacted with alarm to news of Kasril's visit. Beth Goldman, of the South African Zionist Federation, told Ynetnews that Kasrils has alienated the Jewish community after a long-running campaign aimed at demonizing Israel.

 

"Kasril's attitude towards Israel has made him an enemy of the Jewish community. He Started off comparing actions by the IDF in Palestinian areas with actions by the Nazis," she said.

 

"This is extremely alarming. We are very concerned that the South African government has not come out and condemned Iran for the statements of its president, threatening to destroy Israel. We as Jews are very alarmed," Goldman added.

 

Goldman said that so far, efforts by members of the community to contact the South African government have produced few results. "We don't do very much public protesting, due to concerns for the security of the community. We have a very large, hostile Muslim community in South Africa," she said.

 

Michael Bagaim, Chairman of the South African Board of Deputies, told Ynetnews: "The South African Jewish community strongly supports the international call for the

condemnation of Iran building up nuclear capability. We believe that this international call is correct and that support by the Minister of Intelligence for Iran's rogue development is both wrong and out of place. We don't believe that it is in line with the South African government's policy statements."

 

"In light of Iran's call for the destruction of Israel, it is extremely insensitive of Minister Kasrils to support the development of Iran's nuclear capability," he added.

 

Bashing the Jewish community

Michael Kransdorff, co-author of a leading South African Jewish blog, 'Its almost supernatural,' told Ynetnews, "Kasrils is a non-practicing Jew but a rabid anti-Zionist. It is probably a story in itself."

 

"In 2001, at the start of the intifada, he formed an organization called 'not in my name'. It was for people of Jewish descent who opposed Israel's actions. They launched a declaration of conscience hoping to get the mainstream community to condemn Israel. It failed dismally," he added.

 

"The Jewish community responded by shunning him and denouncing him publicly. But given his political status, he was able to bash the community and Israel in the newspapers and on TV and Radio. He uses the sort of anti-Zionist rhetoric you would find in say, Syria," Kransdorff said, adding: "His views have become more and more extreme. Last year after the Lebanon war peaked he wrote in one of South Africa's most intellectual weeklies that Israelis are behaving like Nazis."

 

"I am extremely concerned about Mr Kasril's comments in particular and South Africa's foreign policy in general. Anti-Zionism is very common here. While most South African Jews continue to be fierce supports of Israel, the have switched off to this sort of rhetoric," Kransdorff said.

 

He added: 'Minister Kasrils often writes about how his 'Jewish' conscience obligates him to speak out against Israel. But where is his 'Jewish' conscience when it comes to the Islamic Republic of Iran? How could any self respecting Jew, no matter what his position on Israel, call for the strengthening of ties with a nation that is today at the forefront of Holocaust denial?"

 

Absent from UN vote to condemn Shoah denial

Last month, the leader of the opposition in the South African parliament blasted the government after South Africa failed to vote in favor of a UN motion condemning Holocaust denial.

 

Tony Leon, head of the Democratic Alliance, wrote in a statement: "A further indictment on South Africa's human rights record is its extraordinary decision to be absent when a resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly in January this year condemning Holocaust denialism.

 

"The resolution was co-sponsored by more than 100 countries but South Africa chose to be among 22 countries who were not in the Assembly when the resolution was passed. In so doing, South Africa stood shoulder to shoulder with some of the worst abusers of human rights in the world, including Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan and Zimbabwe."

 

"The government cannot profess a commitment to upholding and protecting human rights when, on the international stage, we go out of our way to temporise with tyranny," Leon added.

 

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