By: Carl Niehaus*
President Ramaphosa’s arrogant and vile disregard for the Resolutions of the 54th National Conference of the ANC is an outrage. We took a clear, unequivocal, decision that diplomatic relations with the apartheid State of Israel must be downgraded to the status of a visa office.
Nothing had been done, DOLOLO!, to implement that important Resolution. The only comrade who took it serious was comrade Lindiwe Sisulu, when she was Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, and her principled courage costed her the job.
Yesterday the official Twitter account of the Presidency of South Africa posted a grinning President Ramaphosa receiving the Letter of Credentials from the new apartheid Israel ambassador, one Mr. Mr Eliav Belotsercovsky. (I will certainly not give him any recognition by calling him ‘His Excellency’. What can possibly be !excellent”#about presenting the racist apartheid Israel?).
When I saw these photos the bitter bile pushed up in my throat. It reminded me of when I become South Africa’s ambassador in The Netherlands. Shortly after I had presented my Letter of Credentials to Queen Beatrix I paid – as is standard protocol – courtesy visits introducing myself to all my colleague ambassadors in The Hague. The only ambassador I excluded was the Israeli ambassador.
This did not go unnoticed, and the Israeli ambassador in South Africa complained to our Department of International Relations and Cooperation (then it was still called the Department of International Relations). Shortly after that complaint I also received an official request from the Israeli ambassador in The Netherlands that he officially wanted to visit me at the South African embassy. At the time there was not yet an ANC Resolution to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel. It was clear that the Israeli government was spoiling to create a diplomatic incident.
I decided to receive the Israeli ambassador in my office, but on the coffee table where we sat down to talk I prominently placed this photo of President Nelson Mandela embracing President Yasser Arafat. From the moment that the Ambassador of Israel entered my office he could not take his eyes off the photo. He was clearly offended, which was exactly what I wanted to achieve. Our conversation did not go well at all. I asked him pertinently when Israel was going to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories. He stuttered and spluttered some official Israel government propaganda position. I did not bother to dignify it with any further comment.
After a very stiff and uncomfortable short visit, interspersed with long pregnant silences, the agent of apartheid Israel got up and left.
That was the last interaction I had with him during my term as South African ambassador in The Netherlands. I did not bother to invite him to our yearly 27th of April Freedom Day celebrations, and he returned the favor by not inviting me to the annual Israel national day celebrations. Which suited me just fine, because I anyhow certainly would not have gone.
I could behave in this manner because I was serving President Nelson Mandela as our President, and comrade Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was then Minister of International Relations. I knew that they appreciated my position, and had my back.
However, if any South African ambassador today decides to take a similar principled stand, would he/she be ensured of similar understanding and support from President Ramaphosa? I do not only need to even doubt it, it is evident that no such support would be forthcoming.
Just yesterday our President was grinning like a Cheshire cat next to the representative of #ApartheidIsrael.
I post herewith the same photo of President Nelson Mandela and President Yasser Arafat that caused so much consternation for the Israel ambassador in my office in The Netherlands.
Earlier today I tweeted the very same photo together with the photo of President Ramaphosa with the newly arrived ambassador/agent of apartheid Israel here in our country, and said: “Spot the difference…”
Let it be clear that to fly the flag of apartheid Israel 🇮🇱 in Tshwane, is like flying a swastika in Tel Aviv.
*Ambassador Carl Niehaus, is a former member of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC). He is an ANC veteran, and served as South Africa’s ambassador in The Netherlands.