‘Forced by law’: former South African chief justice apologizes for pro-Israel comments

Mogoeng Mogoeng apologized “unconditionally” for “becoming involved in political controversy,” without explicitly mentioning Israel.

By World Israel News Staff

Former South African Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has apologized regarding his comments defending Israel, despite having said repeatedly that he would never do so.

“I, Mogoeng Mogoeng, the former Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa, hereby apologize unconditionally for becoming involved in political controversy through my utterances at the online seminar (webinar) hosted by the Jerusalem Post on 23 June 2020, in which I participated,” he said Thursday in a statement.

“I am now forced by the law — the order of the lawfully constituted appeal panel of the judicial conduct committee — to apologize unconditionally in terms of the prescribed apology. And because I am not above the law, I hereby apologize as ordered.”

During the June 2020 webinar, however, in discussion with South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, Mogoeng said:

“I’m under an obligation as a Christian to love Israel, to pray for [the] peace of Jerusalem, which actually means the peace of Israel, and I cannot, as I Christian, do anything other than love and pray for Israel, because I know, hatred for Israel by me and for my nation, can only attract unprecedented curses upon our nation.”

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The anti-Israel group Africa4Palestine, the South African branch of the BDS movement, filed a complaint over the chief justice’s comments, accusing him of breaching the judicial code of conduct.

Last month, South Africa’s Judicial Conduct Appeals Committee gave Mogoeng 10 days to make an “unconditional apology for becoming involved in political controversy.”

“I respect the law. I will not defy the law. But if it does come to the point where I am forced to do the abominable, or I am forced to reject God, then I would rather be without money, be without any position. I will never refuse to obey the Lord,” Mogoeng, who served as chief justice until his retirement from the position in October 2021, said.

“If I get to the point where there is a judgment that says, ‘You must say you hate Israel and the Jews’, I would rather cease to be Chief Justice.

“If I get to the point where they say, ‘Mogoeng, you must say you hate the Palestinians and Palestine,’ I would rather cease to be Chief Justice than to do it…

“I will not apologize for anything. There is nothing to apologize for…I can’t apologize for loving. I can’t apologize for not harboring hatred and bitterness.”