Fatima Hajaig challenged over alleged anti-semitic remarks
On 21 January 2009, we wrote to Ms Fatima Hajaig, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, asking her to confirm or deny an allegation that she made the following antisemitic statement at a rally,
"They in fact control [America]. No matter which government comes in to power, whether Republican or Democratic, whether Barack Obama or George Bush. The control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money and if Jewish money controls their country then you cannot expect anything else." [Source: David Saks on Mail & Guardian Thoughtleader Blog - see here]
We asked for a response by 26 January 2009 but have received none. (We have however received confirmation of receipt of our fax.) The alleged remark is an affront to dignity. It is unacceptable for a person who makes racist comments to continue being a deputy minister. We therefore call for Ms Hajaig to respond urgently to the allegation that has been made. If she continues to fail to respond, it can be reasonably assumed that the allegation is accurate. We also ask people or organisations with a recording or transcript of Ms Hajaig's precise words to make this evidence public.
Our letter to Ms Hajaig is below.
21 January 2009
Ms Fatima Hajaig
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Per fax and email
Dear Deputy Minister
ALLEGATIONS OF ANTISEMITISM
We are deeply concerned about the recent invasion of Gaza. We are also deeply concerned by the manner in and the extent to which the South African Jewish Board of Deputies has expressed its unqualified support for Israel's attack which left over 1,200 people dead. Three of us, who are members of the Jewish community, have signed a widely published statement in this regard (see here).
In addition, we are concerned about a number of antisemitic and Islamophobic responses to the crisis in the Middle East that have exacerbated existing tensions between Jewish and Muslim communities. In our view, these statements are an affront to dignity. They also make it difficult for members of both communities to engage in rational debate.
It is in this light that we would like to draw your attention to a weblog entry posted on the Mail & Guardian site Thought Leader on 19 January 2009, in which a writer provides an account of a meeting held at the Lenasia Community Hall on 14 January 2009 in solidarity with the people of Gaza.
According to various media reports and the online piece (see here) you attended and addressed the meeting. The piece further alleges that you informed the audience that "America, as well as other Western countries, was in the grip of Jewish money power." In particular, it quotes you as follows:
"They in fact control [America]. No matter which government comes in to power, whether Republican or Democratic, whether Barack Obama or George Bush. The control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money and if Jewish money controls their country then you cannot expect anything else".
As none of us was at the meeting, we are not able to verify the veracity of the alleged statements. However, we have no reason to believe that a person in your position, who has taken an oath (or solemn affirmation) to obey, respect and uphold the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, would make such comments.
Nevertheless, we have no option but to request that you clarify whether you have been quoted correctly. If you have indeed been misquoted, we trust that you will have no problem distancing yourself from such hateful comments and clarifying the content of your address.
Given the urgency and seriousness of this matter, we would appreciate a response by Monday 26 January 2009.
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