The South African Friends of Israel said it was appalled and devastated at the chain of events which had led to the suspension of Dr Mpho Phalatse as MMC of Health and Social Development in the City of Johannesburg.
Phalatse was a guest speaker at the SA Friends of Israel (Safi) conference and celebrations to mark the 70th Anniversary of the re-founding of the State of Israel at the City Hall in downtown Johannesburg on 10 June, at which she publicly endorsed the City and herself as friends of Israel.
This led to a backlash on the MMC which in turn forced the Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba to suspend the MMC pending a probe into her remarks which the mayor described as her own personal views but touted as those of the City.
Safi said the MMC has become the target of ‘hysterical condemnation for having expressed support for Israel’. This was despite her subsequent clarification that she did so in her personal capacity and not on behalf of the City.
“It is a sad day when elected officials are not free to attend events of their choosing, and express their personal religious or political views. This is indicative of the environment in which Israel is being demonised to a degree that bears no relationship to reality.
“Anti-Israel bigotry does not merely threaten the rights of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of South Africans who are passionate supporters of Israel. It also poses a serious threat to democracy in our country. Dr Mpho Phalatse has become the latest target of this totalitarian strategy,” said a statement from Safi.
“We, therefore, call on all South Africans to condemn this decision, and appeal to the City of Johannesburg, to reinstate the MMC with immediate effect. She is not deserving of this treatment, as she is a huge asset to the governance of this city.”
“Those who bless Israel will be blessed. Those who curse Israel will be cursed,” said the statement signed by Ben Swartz, co-chairperson of Safi, quoting Genesis: 12 verse 3.