Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has come under fire from the ANC and anti-Israel activists who want him to be disciplined or to resign over remarks he made in a webinar on Tuesday in which he lamented the South African government’s adoption of a lopsided attitude toward the Israel-Palestinian conflict which denied it the opportunity to have greater influence in helping to broker peace in the region.
But Mogoeng’s constitutional right to express his views on Israel as a Christian, which he did during a special webinar for The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday night, has also been defended by Christian supporters, including ACDP leader Rev Kenneth Meshoe, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem South African branch (ICEJ), South African Friends of Israel and Bridges of Peace South Africa. Further down in this page we publish these organisations’ full statements in which they stand up for the chief justice and rebuke his attackers for their bullying threats, for falsely portraying Israel as an apartheid state and for their misguided campaign to downgrade SA’s diplomatic relations with Israel.
Speaking during on global racial tensions with South Africa Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, during the webinar, Mogoeng said that his nation’s history of forgiveness and understanding should have informed its approach to peacemaking, adding that as a Bible-believing Christian he believed that those who curse Israel will themselves be cursed.
In a report on the webinar The Jerusalem Post writes: “The chief justice also spoke about the toxicity of hatred, and the importance of overcoming it to make progress.
“In recent years, the South African government has become increasingly hostile to Israel, and in particular through the security measures it has undertaken.
“In 2018, South Africa withdrew its ambassador from Israel and formally downgraded its ties following clashes on the Gaza border.
Speaking in the Post’s webinar, Mogoeng took pains to emphasise that the policy of the South African government was binding upon himself and that he was not seeking to reject it.
“But, he said, as a citizen he was entitled to criticise laws and policies and suggest changes.
“ ‘As a citizen of our great country, we are denying ourselves a wonderful opportunity of being a game-changer in the Israeli-Palestinian situation,’ said Mogoeng.
“ ‘We know what it means to be at loggerheads, a nation at war with itself,” he continued. “The forgiveness that was demonstrated, the understanding and big heart displayed by President Nelson Mandela and we, the people of South Africa, is an asset we must use around the world to bring peace when there is no peace and to mediate effectively based on rich experience.’
“The chief justice was also implicitly critical of those in his country and in Africa at large who condemn Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians, but embrace South Africa and Africa’s former colonisers.
” ‘Have we cut diplomatic ties with our colonisers?” he said. “Have we disinvested from our former colonisers and those responsible for untold suffering in South Africa and Africa? Did Israel take away our land or the land of Africa, did Israel take our mineral wealth?
“ ‘We would do well to reflect on the objectivity involved in adopting a particular attitude towards a particular country that has not taken as much and unjustly from South Africa and Africa as other nations that we consider it to be an honour to have diplomatic relations with us,’ Mogoeng said.”
ANC unhappy with “political utterances”
Unhappy with Mogoeng’s webinar remarks about Israel, the ANC has called on National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise to talk to the chief justice about “political utterances” he made during the online event hosted by The Jerusalem Post, reports Business Day Live.
In the extraordinary statement released by the ANC on Thursday evening, the party said Mogoeng had shown his apparent support for Israel in the interview.
The government and the ANC officially view Israel as an apartheid state and support the Palestinians who they say are oppressed by the Jewish state.
The ruling party said it was “deeply concerned” by Mogoeng’s remarks. It respected the office of the chief justice, but urged the speaker of parliament to have “high-level talks with the chief justice regarding his political commentary”.
ACDP President and member of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, Rev Kenneth Meshoe, has rejected the ANC’s criticism of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng as “baseless” and “an attack on his constitutional rights of freedom, religion, and expression”.
In a media release Meshoe says: “The ACDP rejects the ANC’s criticism of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng following the comments he made about Israel in his personal capacity as a citizen. We consider this criticism as baseless and an attack on his constitutional rights of freedom of religion and expression
“The wide-ranging interview with the Jerusalem Post, which included South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, focussed on global racial tensions and the need for love, forgiveness and reconciliation. The ANC has chosen to ignore these important parts of the interview, but has only focussed on Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s comments on Israel.
“Many millions of South Africans, including ANC supporters, have very strong religious and spiritual connections with the Holy Land of Israel and would support the sentiments expressed by Mogoeng Mogoeng. He also made it very clear that he was not undermining the government’s policy on Israel but had the right to express himself “as a citizen” and as a Christian. This, the ANC recognises, but then goes on to unjustly criticise him for those very personal beliefs.
“It is also undeniable that South Africa, with its unique history and experience in negotiating a peaceful solution, could play an important role in facilitating the peace process in the Middle East. The ACDP thus fully agrees with Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s sentiment that “the people of South Africa are an asset we must use around the world to bring peace when there is no peace and to mediate effectively based on rich experience.”
“Sadly, the unbalanced approach of the ANC in condemning Israel whenever possible and its resolution to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel, while turning a blind eye to far more serious human rights violations in many other countries including China, Iraq, Syria, Iran, North Korea and Myanmar, has resulted in it losing any credibility as an honest mediator in international affairs.
“In addition, the ANC’s resolution and its insistence last night, during a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation Portfolio Committee, for the department to report back to the committee on progress with the downgrade flies in the face of growing diplomatic ties between Israel and African countries, who see the benefits of such relationships when it comes to Israel’s technology such as in the medical, water and agricultural spheres. These growing diplomatic ties are ironically being mediated by Gulf states, (including the United Arab Emirates who mediated a meeting between Prime minister Netanyahu and Sudanese President Burhan), and clearly illustrates how short-sighted the ANC’s foreign policy towards Israel is.
“The ACDP fully endorses Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s quote from Psalm 122 to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”. We also remind the ANC and other detractors of Israel that Genesis 12:3 makes it very clear that those who curse Israel will be cursed, and those who bless Israel will be blessed. Are South Africans living under circumstances of blessings or curses? We would submit the latter, given the high levels of crime and violence, widespread poverty and starvation, R4 trillion public debt, and a looming sovereign debt crisis.
“The ANC’s claims that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s comments [will make him vulnerable should he have to adjudicate a human rights matter in the future’ are ludicrous. Mogoeng has a proven track record of upholding the Constitution and human rights over the years. In addition, the judiciary, under his leadership, has been fiercely independent, and was the strongest bulwark against the ANC’s complete capture of the state during the Zuma years.
“The ANC asserts that South Africa “is a secular state and officials of the state, which include our esteemed judiciary are bound by the constitution to respect this.” This view shows that the ANC has no understanding of the relationship between the state and religion as clearly articulated by the Constitution and the courts.
“South Africa is not a secular state. This was confirmed by a full bench of three Gauteng High Court judges in the 2017 OGOD judgement which stated that, “this fits a twin theme often raised during argument, and accepted by all, namely first, that we are not a secular State and, second, that in this country our diversity is celebrated, not tolerated.”
“We reject the BDS calls for the Judicial Services Commission to investigate Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, while being silent on the many other magistrates and judges who are facing far more serious allegations of misconduct.
“We similarly reject the calls for Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to resign, as well as the ANC’s call on the Speaker of Parliament to have ‘high-level talks’ with the Chief Justice regarding his views. We see this as a very dangerous attempt at intimidating Mogoeng Mogoeng from expressing deeply held personal religious views, which could also be seen as an indirect threat to the independence of the judiciary.
“Lastly, the ACDP calls on the millions of South Africans to unite behind Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, and through prayer and action, to reject the renewed pressure by the ANC and EFF to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel. Christians and Jewish people will not be silent while our deeply held religious beliefs and links with the Holy Land of Israel are undermined by those with a radical anti-Israel agenda, bordering on anti-Semitism.”
Attack on chief justice is an attack on our Christian faith and on SA Constitution — ICEJ SA
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, South African Branch (ICEJ) represents Christians who support Israel, across political parties, including the ANC, and take strong exception to the recent statements by ANC spokesperson, Pule Mabe, and other organisations in attacking Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng, due to his personal view that he holds about Israel as a Christian citizen of South Africa, says national president Vivienne Myburgh in a statement.
The statement reads: “On 23 June 2020, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng aired his personal and religious views regarding Israel, in an online interview, alongside Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Warren Goldstein. The discussion was hosted by the Jerusalem Post Editor-In-Chief Yaakov Katz.
“The Chief Justice spoke about the toxicity of hatred, and the importance of overcoming it to make progress. He provided personal testimony of his hatred towards his white compatriots which was overcome by living out the principles of his Christian faith. He was also influenced by a book, written by a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust which confirmed that forgiveness, as a way of life, empowers you from being held captive. The Chief Justice said it was this “principal and his integrity to have love for all” which enables him to make objective and just decisions.
“The Chief Justice acknowledged that the policy direction taken by South Africa is binding on him and pointed out that whatever he has to say should not be misunderstood. He said that he, as any other citizen is entitled to criticize or even suggest that changes are necessary – this could be on policy, laws or even the constitution.
“The Chief Justice stated that there were people who expected him to hate the Jews and Israel, but he said, “I love the Jews, I love Israel, I love the Palestinians, I love Palestine”.
“In the days that followed the interview – the people who expect him to hate the Jews and Israel have shown their face. Starting with the ANC, the EFF and others – they have called on him to retract his statements, with all sorts of innuendos and threats veiled in their statements. These are the standard bullying tactics, influenced by BDS lobbyists and used successfully on model Shashi Naidoo and others previously.
“Those who voiced their strong disapproval to his views, base their assertions on the misguided libel that Israel is an “Apartheid State” and human rights abuser.
“The State of Israel continues to reach out to people of all races and backgrounds as human rights are the very basis of their constitution and all Israeli citizens of any race, religion or gender, have equal opportunities within all spheres of Israeli society. To assert that Israel is an “Apartheid State” is to negate what real “Apartheid” was for the majority of South Africans who suffered under it and to show a wilful ignorance of the reality on the ground in Israel. The ANC previously condemned officials within their ranks who travelled to Israel to investigate the truth for themselves. Why would they do that, unless the ‘facts’ they have been fed, are incorrect?
“The Palestinian-Israeli issue is complex and has clear legal and historical factors that need to be considered before sweeping judgements can be made.
“The ANC and other organisations would be advised to thoroughly investigate these factors before issuing policies on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. The media propaganda, terror attacks and ongoing calls by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and surrounding states to destroy the Israeli state need to be understood for what they are: an attempt to undermine the rights of Israelis to live in peace and security alongside them. The root of these anti-Zionist calls (Zionism being the right of the Jews to their ancient homeland) is actually antisemitism, which is the oldest form of racism!
“The right to freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa. Chapter 2 of the Constitution of South Africa, containing the Bill of Rights, states that everyone has the right to freedom of religion, belief and opinion. Section 9, the equality clause, prohibits unfair discrimination on various grounds including religion.
“The Chief Justice is also subject to the constitution that he is the custodian of and therefore implying that the Chief Justice cannot freely express his personal opinion would be unconstitutional and undemocratic.
“The charter of religious rights and responsibilities was signed on 21 October 2010 and in his keynote speech Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke stated: ‘Where religious rights are at odds with other constitutional guarantees or a legitimate government purpose, the conflict must be weighed carefully, keeping in mind that in our constitutional democracy the constitution is supreme and there is no hierarchy of rights. All rank equally. We all have the right to be different.’
“Does this not also include Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng’s right to have an opinion that is at odds with, and independent of, a particular ANC policy?
“Christians across the board from various parties and churches need to stand up when attacks are made against our constitutional rights of religious freedom, especially when perpetuated by our government, political parties and sadly, some churches and religious organisations.
“The ANC often refers to the resolution of conferences where policy decisions are taken and forced on government to implement. It must be noted that there are many policy resolutions of the ANC that have not yet been implemented for various reasons, yet the attack on Israel continues. It must be further noted that the policy regarding Israel and the decision to distance South Africa from Israel is clearly due to a resolution sponsored by the likes of BDS. It is not the position of the majority of South Africans who would prefer to see a normalisation of relations between our two countries and so enable South Africa to play a role in fostering peace within the present Israeli Palestinian conflict, as reiterated by the Chief Justice.
“The attack on Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is an attack on our Christian faith and on South Africa’s Constitution.
The full interview starts at 19 minutes
“The ICEJ stands with the Chief Justice’s Christian view that we should bless Israel and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
“God’s Word is clear as to His response towards those who either bless or curse His people (the descendants of Abram – Gen 12v3). Two different words are used for the word translated as ‘curse’. We curse (Hebrew word ‘qalal’) Israel by hating, insulting, devaluing, minimising or even by just being dismissive about her. This unfortunately describes the present ANC policy towards Israel. God’s promised response to those who curse Israel in this way is to truly curse (‘arar’) them. The meaning of this word ‘arar’ is to be “cut off” from God’s blessing.
“The outworking of this reality on families and nations has been well documented through the ages. May we take action and pray that this will not be the case for our beloved nation.”
“The ANC is portrayed as a broad church of differing views. Yet, following its personal attack on the Chief Justice it would seem that it is being hijacked by those with their own foreign policy agenda, such as the BDS movement, who deny Jews and Christians their Biblical connections to Israel. We furthermore see this as an attempt to undermine the independence of the Judiciary according to the South African Constitution.
“As Christian South Africans we will not be silenced. We will not tolerate the undermining of our democracy by those with a narrow agenda. We will not have our connection to Israel undermined. We are united in our support of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and applaud his convictions to speak out as a Christian believer.
“Hands off the Chief Justice. Hands off the Constitution. The ANC must leave Christian believers alone.”
Mogoeng’s stand empowers people of faith — Bridges of Peace South Africa
Bridges of Peace South Africa has also released a statement as follow: “Recently the Chief Justice of South Africa Mogoeng Mogoeng and Chief Rabbi of South Africa Warren Goldstein participated in a Jerusalem Post initiated panel discussion on the topic “Confronting the Apartheid of the Heart.” It was set against the backdrop of rising racial tensions across the globe ignited by the senseless death of George Floyd. A large part of the discussion revolved around present racial turmoil. Both men, each from their own experience and faith perspective, shared out of the deep well of wisdom that was built from personal involvement as South Africa emerged from apartheid.
“It was inevitable that the discussion would also involve both the South Africa/Israel dynamic and the Israel/Palestinian situation. Avoiding pointed questions concerning individual role players, the Chief Justice said that from a practical perspective it was unfortunate that the South Africa government, with probably the best credentials to be a mediator, had turned its back on Israel. Furthermore, he noted that as a Christian he recognized the importance of God’s Word and specifically that we were
called to stand with Israel based on Genesis 12:3.
“The Chief Justice is not alone in his conviction that Christians should stand with Israel and that the modern re-emergence of the Jewish people in their historic homeland does correlate convincingly to multiple passages of the Bible. These Christians are people who take God’s promises of provision, healing and protection at face value and apply this same faith to the passages that refer to Israel’s return. Their love and support of Israel is not self-seeking and does not equate, as insinuated in some comments, to hatred for any of the other role players. Although institutions such as the SA Council of Churches, The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa and some denominations have added their voice in condemnation of not just Mogoeng Mogoeng but also others like him who share similar views, there are more in their pews who stand with Israel than those who don’t.
“Mogoeng Mogoeng’s expression of his stance on Israel has unleashed a barrage of vicious attacks on him personally incuding calls for his removal from his position as Chief Justice. These attacks have come from the political establishment, anti-Israel movements and sadly, even from within the Church. It is a sad reflection on these critics that had the Chief Justice spoken out against Israel, the very things used as weapons against him would have been used as the tools used to applaud him.
“As South Africans and based upon our constitutional rights, we reject any attempts to inhibit Mogoeng Mogoeng’s rights to free speech and his ability to practice and share his faith. The Chief Justice’s willingness to express himself publicly as a Christian also empowers all other people of faith who perceive an erosion of these rights in the public domain.
“As an organisation and part of the Israel voice for Bible believing Christians in South Africa, we affirm our support for the Chief Justice, Israel and the Jewish community in South Africa. We also affirm our commitment to restore balance to the Israel narrative in our society and to assist the Church, through education and discussion, to be at peace with itself concerning the matter of Israel.” — Rev Tom Mofokeng Mr Chris Eden Rev Leon Hermanus Mr Theo Alkema
Bridges for Peace South Africa