A South African politician has apologized to the local Jewish community for his 2015 comments during a television interview in which he spoke glowingly of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
Mcebo Dlamini, a member of the African National Congress (ANC) and one of the leaders of the #FeesMustFall movement, was hauled to the Human Rights Commission by the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), reported the South African news website IOL.
The mediation process took place at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.
SAJBD Vice President Zev Krengel said Dlamini was apologetic, remorseful and he had acknowledged that his comments had caused harm in the Jewish community.
“This understanding prompted him to make an unequivocal apology. His recognition that the statements were antisemitic, hurtful and offensive, together with his genuine apology, enables us to heal from the hurt he caused,” said Krengel.
“It is important for us as a community, and as South Africans, to identify when genuine remorse is expressed. It is equally important for us to accept a sincere apology of this nature as it enables us to move forward,” he added.
After apologizing, Dlamini attended an educational engagement at the permanent exhibition at the JHGC, according to IOL.
In his apology, he said, “In 2015 I uttered statements about Jews and Israelis that were not only provocative but also extremely offensive. It is only in retrospect that I began to appreciate how much my statements were both ill-advised and to a certain extent dangerous because they ignored the kind of trauma that they caused.”
“As someone who is interested in politics and how they can be used to advance a better world for all I should have known better. But consciousness is not something that you miraculously arrive at but you journey,” he added.
“My journey has made me appreciate that I was wrong and there is no possible excuse for what I said and there can be no way to reverse how it affected others. What I can do though is to supplement my apology with actions as testimony that I am truly remorseful,” said Dlamini.
Dlamini said he also wished to travel to Israel in the future, so he could understand the culture and traditions of the Israeli people.
Anti-Israel sentiments remain prevalent in South Africa, where the government has frequently accused Israel of applying a policy of “apartheid” towards Palestinian Arabs.
Last year, the country announced plans to downgrade its embassy in Tel Aviv.
A year earlier, South Africa withdrew its ambassador to Israel in protest against the deadly violence along the Israel-Gaza border.
The decision came after the Hamas terrorist organization led violent and mass terrorist acts in protest against the inauguration of the new United States embassy in Jerusalem. Hamas later openly admitted that most of those who were killed in those violent riots were members of the group.
Several years ago, the ANC party proposed new rules regarding dual citizenship meant to stop South African citizens from joining the IDF.
Former ANC leader Jacob Zuma once urged South Africans not to visit Israel in order to show solidarity with “the people of Palestine”.