Why Israel refused S. African Education Minister Blade Nzimande

Nzimande deserves Israel's refusal to give him a visa, and anyway, his mind is already made up.

Ben Levitas

OpEds Ben Levitas
Ben Levitas
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Israel acted with good reason to refuse Blade Nzimande entry.

He actively activated and propagated the severing of links between the University of Johannesburg and the Ben Gurion University, in Beer Sheva, Israel. Nelson Mandela accepted an honorary doctorate from this Israeli University, specifically for the groundbreaking work that this "University of the Negev" was doing to uplift Africa.

Ben Gurion University, located in the arid southern part of Israel, leads the world in combating desertification and in finding solutions to agriculture under harsh conditions. It leads the world in water purification and in combating food supply issues. Until relations were severed, Israel was helping South Africa with infrastructure projects and with finding solutions to food security. So while those propagating sanctions won this battle, South Africa’s ability to win its war to increase food supplies has suffered a huge setback. Ben-Gurion University ranks far higher in International rankings than does the University of Johannesburg, and the spiteful boycott would certainly hurt our local institution more than the Israeli institution.

By calling for the boycotting of all Israeli Institutions, Nzimande certainly deserves the opprobrium of his countrymen who seek only positive solutions to the problems we all face.  There can be no reason or justification for a Minister of Education to call for such a boycott and all the steps Israel has taken to counter his agenda are entirely understandable and justified.

Nzimande has overstepped the line of protocol by the slanderous remarks he has made in many of his speeches, accusing Israel of committing ‘massacres’ and ‘genocide’. While his support of the Palestinians is his free right, his focus only on Israel’s alleged actions and not on Palestinian provocations is entirely unjustified and weakens his case. While the whole Middle East in in flames, and genocide against Christians and other minorities is rampant and pursued as a deliberate policy, Nzimande is silent. In Syria alone the number of deaths exceeds the lives lost in all the Israel/Palestinian conflicts by a factor of  20 times and the number of refugees exceeds by 5 times the number of Palestinians that became refugees following Israel’s creation.


...there were no universities or institutes of higher learning in the 'West Bank' until after Israel took over in 1967.
Nzimande overlooks completely the fact that Israel is the only bastion in the whole Arab world and Middle East that is a true democracy, which protects minority rights. Arabs have full democratic rights to vote, and 12% of the parliamentarians are Arab. Arabs hold positions as Judges, generals, pop stars and beauty queens. Israel has just been chosen as one of the top 10 countries with the happiest citizens. In past polls, given the choice, Arab citizens would choose to live in Israel rather than in an independent Palestine - and that says it all. By castigating only Israel, the most moral and free society in a dark and destructive region, Nzimande becomes complicit in condoning the worst human rights violations and crimes.

Nzimande may need to be reminded, that there were no universities or institutes of higher learning in the "West Bank" until after Israel took over in 1967. Instead of acknowledging Israel’s bequest and contribution to Palestinian Arab development, he chooses only to rubbish it. This mean-spiritedness deserves the reaction that Israel chose to take, because nothing good could come out of a visit by Nzimande to the region.

Nzimande is stuck in a communist mindframe which harks back to a colonialist period. He views Israelis as settlers and ‘colonialists’, while nothing can be further from the truth. Jews have lived in ‘Palestine’ continuously for longer than any other people. The Palestinian Arabs are certainly not the indigenous or aboriginal people that he makes them out to be. Yasser Arafat and many of the current leaders were not born in Palestine and the Arabs entered Israel only after 2,000 years of Jewish settlement.

Religion being ‘the opium of the masses’, perhaps Nzimande needs to be reminded that Jesus Christ was born and died a Jew and that he preached in a Jewish Temple, one thousand four hundred years before the first Muslim appeared in Jerusalem and 600 years before Islam was founded.

Nzimande has a huge task on his hands raising the skill levels of the people that he serves. Where South Africa fails, Israel excels. Israel produces entrepreneurs and innovators. Israel produces more Nobel prize winners pro-rata than any other country, yet Nzimande chooses to disregard their achievements and partake in boycotts and discrimination.  The people of South Africa deserve more from their leaders, but Nzimande is a victim of his own ineptitude and poisonous agenda, as are they.




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