OPINION: Islamophobia has increasingly become weaponised by Israel
By Iqbal Jassat
Islamophobia, a world-wide phenomenon, has become increasingly menacing in parts of Europe and in the US. As it grows its tentacles with the direct, bold and active participation of white supremacists, neoconservatives, Likudniks and fascists, Islamophobia has increasingly become weaponised by Israel.
Used as a political tool to discredit Palestine’s freedom struggle as well as the global solidarity movement which campaigns to boycott Israel under the banner of BDS, the settler-colonial regime has spared no effort in funding and spearheading Islamophobes.
And many who naively believe that South Africa is immune from deliberate and calculated fuelling of hate, suspicion and mistrust by Israeli-funded agents, would be wrong.
The latest revelations in a Jewish media platform, Forward, make startling disclosures about Israel’s role in funding groups in defence of the Zionist project. Of particular relevance for South Africa is a Christian Zionist group known as PJTN – “Proclaiming Justice to the Nations”.
Headed by an ardent supporter of Israel, Laurie Cardoza-Moore, it is based outside Nashville, US, and was the driving force behind the Tennessee legislature in April 2015 becoming the first state to pass a resolution condemning BDS, and successfully lobbied other states to pass anti-BDS laws.
Of relevance to South Africa is that PJTN’s founder and president, Cardoza-Moore, known for her incendiary Islamophobic rhetoric, is establishing a footprint here. An alarming development. It ought to be prioritised for monitoring by the authorities.
The Forward report revealed that America’s SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) has listed the Israeli-funded PJTN as an anti-Muslim hate group (alongside KKK and Nazis). Amazon later removed the group from its charity donation programme as part of a purge of extremist organisations.
Equally shocking, the report states that Israel approved a payment of $40 000 in January to “Laune Cardza Moore” with the subject line “Support for the organization PJTN for the event: Our Shared Biblical Connection to the Holy Land”. Forward reported that PJTN hosted events with the same title in November last year at churches in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
That Israel has a direct official history of affiliation with PJTN is not in dispute. But that it has been operating under the radar for a considerable time in South Africa, ought to be of concern to the intelligence and security cluster and Palestine solidarity movements.
Apart from PJTN having opened its first chapter in South Africa, the Joburg event was co-sponsored by the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the Cape Town one by International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, the report said.
An anti-BDS documentary called Boycott This! produced by Cardoza-Moore of PJTN was screened at the events in South Africa.
Notwithstanding America’s shameful support for Israel, it is to the credit of the SPLC for having the guts to blacklist the PJTN as a hate group.
Significant, too, that Amazon has dropped PJTN from its funding platform because “organisations that engage in, support, encourage or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering or other illegal activities are not eligible”.
Yet Cardoza-Moore and her Israeli-funded PJTN, listed in the US as an “anti-Muslim hate group”, are operating in South Africa. The ANC-led government has to be particularly mindful of sinister foreign-funded moves to undermine its human rights-based approach to Palestine. South Africa has no choice but to confront it.
Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Committee Member of the Media Review Network.