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South African Jews disappointed in government’s failure to condemn terrorism in Israel

A wounded soldier receives medical attention at the Barzilai Medical Center, in the aftermath of Hamas' attack on Israel, in Ashkelon, Israel October 7, 2023. Picture: Reuters / Amir Cohen

A wounded soldier receives medical attention at the Barzilai Medical Center, in the aftermath of Hamas' attack on Israel, in Ashkelon, Israel October 7, 2023. Picture: Reuters / Amir Cohen

Published Nov 4, 2023


By Monessa Shapiro

On October 14, just one week after the mass murder of Jewish Israelis by Hamas terrorists, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in the presence of his fellow members of the governing African National Congress (ANC), engaged with the press while donning the customary Palestinian scarf.

Ramaphosa immediately downplayed the severity of the attack that took place in Israel on October 7, characterising such heinous terrorist activity as merely “taking up an issue”. Subsequently, he justified and rationalised the massacre by contending that the Palestinian people have endured “nearly 75 years of occupation” when in fact, Israel withdrew from Gaza almost 20 years ago. By speaking of 75 years of occupation he is also questioning the very existence of the state of Israel.

These historical facts are indeed lost on Ramaphosa.

In addition Ramaphosa steadfastly refrained from unequivocally condemning Hamas’ attack on Israelis.

This, while he expressed significant concern for the “occupation of land in Gaza” with zero reference to any of the international war crimes committed by Hamas terrorists.

The Hamas charter is well-known for calling for the eradication of Israel, along with all Jews. So when the President of South Africa refrains from denouncing the terror unleashed by Hamas against Jewish Israelis, it becomes evident, without the need for extensive scrutiny, that antisemitism is at play.

The moral standing of Ramaphosa and his ANC comrades must be questioned if their reaction to people being slaughtered, beheaded, raped and burned alive isn’t complete and utter disgust, if their reaction to Jewish children and women being taken captive into Gaza isn’t immediate and outright condemnation.

Amy Schumer took to Instagram to suggest: “The only reason you do this is because you have been made to believe that the killing of Jews can even be justified. Because every civilization has taught that the life of a Jew is less valuable than your own. It’s the Hitler playbook. Your antisemitism is not unconscious. It is so deeply rooted in your bones and you are so comfortable with it.”

The official stance articulated by the ANC at a national level, completely alienated the right of Jews to defend themselves against heinous terrorists. Ramaphosa’s speech directly implied that because these atrocities took place in Israel, they were not worth recognising. That the lives lost were not worth mentioning. But by omitting to condemn Hamas for the murder of Israelis, he loses the opportunity too to condemn Hamas for the death of their own people.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, working with Hamas, was responsible for misfiring a rocket that hit the Al-Ahli Hospital’s parking area in Gaza last week. This particular rocket constituted just one, among a series of at least 500 rockets that have been misfired by Hamas and other terrorists over the last two weeks. This misfire was made clear by visual and auditory analyses of recordings, videos and photographs by weapons and explosive experts, US intelligence as well as an examination by the IDF which concluded that the available evidence of the damage was not consistent with an Israeli airstrike.

However, before the truth could spread, a number of inaccurate statements, reports and allegations from the ANC government blamed the rocket’s impact on the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) instead.

These initial reports gave rise to strong condemnation of Israel’s actions, generating significant disapproval and criticism. Our ANC government was also vocal in its condemnation, and never retracted their statements once the veracity of Israel’s innocence in this attack became unquestIonable.

In light of Palestinian Islamic Jihad having been identified as the responsible party, the question emerges as to why there has not been a similar response, in terms of condemnation and reprobation from social media, broadcast media, and the government of South Africa? In fact, where is DIRCO’s statement condemning Hamas for repeatedly bombing an Israeli hospital? The silence is simply deafening.

These discrepancies were noted by the Israeli Author, Hen Mazzig, who stated on X (formerly Twitter): “For a full week people debated if Hamas beheaded Israeli babies or just peacefully burned them alive. Yet it took you exactly one minute to spread the lie that Israel bombed a hospital in Gaza when all evidence showed that it didn’t.”

Mazzig later stated: “If you called out Israel for the Gaza hospital bombing I want you to use the same energy to call out Hamas for being the ones who misfired a rocket at that hospital. Or was it not really about the Palestinian civilians?”

The events that unfolded in the wake of the tragic attack on Jewish (and other) Israelis by Hamas terrorists and the subsequent response from President Ramaphosa and his party raise significant concerns. The failure to unequivocally denounce terrorism and acknowledge the suffering of Israeli civilians, coupled with the perceived bias in addressing the situation has led to increased anti semitism.

We, as a Jewish community, feel increasingly isolated and disappointed in the South African government.

* Monessa Shapiro is part of the South African Zionist Federation Media Team.

** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of IOL or Independent Media.