South Africa’s Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, is refusing to apologize for comments last year supporting Israel — even after a judicial body ordered him to do so, and even wrote out the words of the apology that he was ordered to offer.
As Breitbart News noted in June 2020, Mogoeng revealed during a live webinar hosted by the Jerusalem Post that he was pro-Israel, unlike much of South Africa’s political and media elite. He revealed that the prayed for the “peace of Jerusalem.”
Mogoeng added: “I cannot, as a Christian, do anything other than love and pray for Israel because I know hatred for Israel by me and my nation can only attract unprecedented curses upon our nation.” His comments caused an uproar in South Africa, whose ruling party, the African National Congress, has adopted an anti-Israel stance and has supported calls to boycott the Jewish state. There were calls for Mogoeng to resign, and pro-Palestinian activists complained to the Judicial Conduct Committee of the country’s Judicial Service Commission, a body that oversees the behavior of the country’s judges.
Earlier this month, the committee ordered Mogoeng to apologize for having involved himself in a political controversy. The Post reported:
The judge also ordered Mogoeng to apologize for a subsequent statement saying he would under no circumstances apologize, and even drafted the exact wording Mogoeng should use in his apology.
On Sunday, the deadline for Mogoeng to apologize, he formally appealed the decision of the Judicial Conduct Committee.
The South African branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, an pro-Israel evangelical organization, has been heavily involved in campaigning for Mogoeng and has decried what it says are efforts to deny him right to freedom of expression.
A petition supporting Mogoeng by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has gathered over 125,000 signatures thus far.
In a statement on Sunday quoted by South African news website IOL.co.za, Mogoeng said that he was standing up for his freedom of expression, and that he would rather give up his position than disobey the word of God:
“Judges, as citizens, have constitutional rights of freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, and freedom of opinion. It is not correct to say that when you assume office, you’ll automatically let go of your constitutional rights,” he said
He said there was nothing in his remarks, which called for the peaceful mediation of the situation in the Middle East, during the Jerusalem Post webinar last year, that contradicted any official SA government policy.“I respect the law and that is why I’m appealing,” said Mogoeng.
Mogoeng said if it came to the point where he was forced to reject God, he would rather be without money or position and please God rather than man.
“If I get to the point where there is a judgment that says ‘Mogoeng you must say you hate Israel and the Jews’ I would rather cease to be chief justice, than to do it. 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, because my God has instructed me to love and not to hate,” he said.
“The Lord gave me rock-solid grounds to appeal,” he added.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.