Israeli envoy addresses South African peace summit
GIL LAVIE, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
Deputy envoy Finkelstein
delivers message of peace from Jerusalem to summit attended by PA president
Zuma, Zulu king Zwelithini.
Africa – Deputy Ambassador to South Africa Yaakov Finkelstein spoke at a
interfaith summit dedicated to peace and reconciliation on Thursday at King
Goodwill Zwelithini Nkoyeni Palace in Nongoma, 300 km. north of Durban, in the
presence of South African President Jacob Zuma.
Zwelithini, 64, is the king of South Africa’s Zulus.
The ambassador was invited to speak by Zwelithini and Dr. Zweli Mkhize, premier
of the South African province of Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Zwelithini initiated the interfaith prayer session to form part of the annual
Zulu First Fruit Festival and Ceremonial Cleansing Ceremony. This year’s
ceremony was unique as it involved an interfaith element.
“This prayer event is one of the most important events in the history of our
nation as it unites people of different backgrounds. The history of the Amazulu
will never be complete without the history of the British, French, Indians,
Afrikaners and others,” Zwelithini said.
South Africa has had an increasingly strained relationship with Israel over the
past decade. The summit was called after years of conflict between South
African political parties and was an attempt to bridge the gap and heal past
Finkelstein, addressing the summit, delivered a message of peace from Jerusalem
to the South African government and people. He recited Psalm 121, about God’s
help for the country and its population.
Relating to Israel and its experience, Finkelstein said, “Jerusalem is a city
sacred to many religions whose name means peace.”
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a former prime minister of Zululand and a major
opposition figure, spoke about prayer being the most fundamental vehicle to
achieve peace. “It’s a matter that in good faith we [the Inkatha Freedom Party
and African National Congress] must attend [to], but it remains outside the
present initiative of our king and this is a challenge that keeps facing us,”
After finishing a prayer for peace and reconciliation, Finkelstein addressed
the challenges facing South Africa as it moves forward.
“In all the Jewish synagogues a special prayer during the Shabbat services is
prayed for the success of South Africa and the success of the South African
government,” he said.
“It was also mentioned that every Jewish prayer ends up with the word ‘shalom’
which means peace and harmony”; this is what we wish for the future of South
African and its people, the deputy ambassador said.