Pretoria - Member of Parliament and the grandson of former president Nelson Mandela, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela, chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council, on Friday called on Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to retract his statements expressing his apparent support for “apartheid Israel”.
“We call on Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to retract statements attributed to him by Jerusalem Times (The Jerusalem Post) supporting apartheid Israel. We request him to uphold Madiba's legacy of standing for human rights and unreservedly supporting the struggle of oppressed peoples and those living under occupation all over the world,” said Nkosi Zwelivelile.
“President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela's support for the struggle of Palestinian people living for 72 years under apartheid Israel's occupation was unequivocal and the gravity of their struggle has been memorialised in his historic words when he said: 'We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.'
Chief Justice Mogoeng was this week on a line-up of the Jerusalem Post’s “exclusive webinar” which also featured South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein and was moderated by the Jerusalem Post’s editor-in-chief, Yaakov Katz.
Among other remarks, Chief Justice Mogoeng, a staunch Christian, said during the Jerusalem Post's virtual conference: “The first verse I give is in Psalms 122 verse 6 which says: ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee.' Also Genesis 12 verses 1 to 3 says to me as a Christian, if I curse Abraham and Israel, the Almighty God will curse me too. So, I am under an obligation as a Christian to love Israel, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, which actually means the peace of Israel. I cannot, as a Christian, do anything other than love and pray for Israel because I know hatred for Israel by me and my nation can only attract unprecedented curses upon our nation.
"I think as a citizen of this country, we are denying ourselves a wonderful opportunity of being game-changers in the Israeli–Palestinian situation. We know what it means to be at loggerheads, to be a nation at war with itself,” Chief Justice Mogoeng said.
Nkosi Zwelivelile said the statements attributed to the chief justice are also ill-timed as Israel with the support of President Donald Trump is moving to "annex the West Bank and wipe what remains of historic Palestine from the map".
“This act which has been condemned in the strongest terms by the United Nations Security Council on the 24th June 2020 as a gross violation of international law. We must stop this illegal occupation by any means necessary and force apartheid Israel to respect the rights of the Palestinian people to an independent and contiguous state,” he said.
Mandela said the statements by the chief justice have done South Africa's standing in the international community “a great disservice and detracted from our principled stand against apartheid Israel's genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people”.
“We reiterate our call for him to retract these statements as unbecoming of any South African ourselves erstwhile beneficiaries of international support in our struggle against apartheid. It is unthinkable that anyone tasked with upholding justice would support apartheid Israel's occupation, its indiscriminate violence against women, children and the elderly, its imprisonment and maiming of children some as young as 12 and 14 years old, its disdain for the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people, the daily humiliation of Palestinians and the statutory discrimination rendering Palestinians as foreigners in the land of their birth,” said Mandela.
“If in all good conscience he stands by the statements attributed to him and he indeed supports apartheid Israel and its gross violation of international law, he should do the honourable thing and step down from his position as the ultimate arbiter of justice in South Africa.”
On Thursday, the ANC said it was concerned about the sentiments attributed to Chief Justice Mogoeng.
The party's national spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party was “deeply concerned” by the remarks.
Mabe said: “The esteemed chief justice entered the arena of political commentary which may make him vulnerable should he have to adjudicate a human rights matter in the future. He also openly supported the actions of the State of Israel, actions condemned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on numerous occasions and contemptuous behaviour towards the human rights of the people of Palestine.
“It was rather unfortunate for the Chief Justice (Mogoeng) to state that: 'South African government policy was binding upon himself and that he was not seeking to reject it' but then clearly and openly opposing it 'as a citizen'. The ANC has respect for the independence of the judiciary. South Africa is a secular state and officials of the state, which include our esteemed judiciary are bound by the Constitution to respect this.”
Mabe said the ANC has consistently expressed courageously through its successive resolutions that the contemporary State of Israel is an "apartheid state".
“We support human rights and we stand with the oppressed Palestinians who include Christians of the Holy Land, the residents of Jerusalem and Bethlehem who are living under Israeli apartheid. On 24 June the SG (secretary-general) of the UN stated that the annexation of 30% of the West Bank settlement by Israel is a gross violation of international law,” said Mabe.
“The annexation is nothing more than a land grab and theft. We will continue to work with all sectors of South Africa in opposing the occupation, annexation and colonisation of Palestinian land.”
The ANC said Chief Justice Mogoeng has sought to turn the matter of the rights of the people of Palestine into a religious argument, which it is not.