The ANC launched a blistering attack on Israel on Thursday for its “barbaric attacks” on Gaza, likening Israel to the Nazis and accusing it of turning “occupied territories of Palestine into permanent death camps”.
“The recent attacks must cease as well as the ongoing and illegal Israeli occupation and collective Israeli punishment of the Palestinians,” deputy ANC secretary-general Jessie Duarte said.
She said the ANC would be joining the Palestine solidarity and boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in organising protests against Israel .
The official Jewish community in South Africa called the ANC statement “venomous and insulting”, adding that it was particularly appalled by the “shameful comparisons… between Israel’s actions and the Nazi campaign of genocide against the Jewish people during World War 2”.
Such comparisons were “obscene, not only because they are so grossly defamatory towards the Jewish state, but because they belittle the unspeakable crimes of Nazism itself”.
“The recent attacks must cease as well as the ongoing and illegal Israeli occupation and collective Israeli punishment of the Palestinians,” Duarte said, adding that the high-density of Gaza, made the Israeli air bombing “more horrendous”.
She said Israel seemed to taking a similar path to isolation as apartheid-era South Africa had done.
Duarte said the ANC was unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, “and unapologetic in our view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel”.
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation said in a joint statement that “such naked invective… coming from our country’s ruling party... is nothing short of disgraceful”.
They noted that before today, the ANC had uttered no condemnation of the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers, nor the escalating bombardment by Hamas of Israeli population centres with hundreds of missiles.
They demanded that the ANC distance itself from Duarte’s comments and issue an unequivocal apology to the Jewish community.
Asked for comment, Clayson Monyela, spokesman of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation said: “This is an ANC statement, not a South African government statement.”
Monyela added that the government would issue its own statement later.