This 2024 - Let's Win the Battle of Headlines
newsIsrael at War

‘Sit this one out,’ Fetterman tells South Africa, of Israel genocide accusation

“Hamas is anathema to peace,” the Pennsylvania senator said. “We’ll never have any peace for Israel until they are fully eliminated.”

Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) speaks at an Orthodox Union event on Capitol Hill on Jan. 10, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of Orthodox Union Advocacy Center.
Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) speaks at an Orthodox Union event on Capitol Hill on Jan. 10, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of Orthodox Union Advocacy Center.

South Africa, which brought genocide charges against Israel at the International Court of Justice, a U.N. body in The Hague, should “sit this one out,” Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) said on Wednesday at an Orthodox Union lunch on Capitol Hill.

The Pennsylvania Democrat, who has developed a reputation as one of Israel’s staunchest supporters in Congress, said that Hamas’s terror attack on Israel on Oct. 7 cannot be compared to Israeli self-defense and critics of the Jewish state should not accuse the latter of asymmetrical response.

“Who are they really fighting? It’s a group of cowards. They hide in tunnels. They hide behind civilians. They attack, kill and mutilate children, women,” he said. “Stop talking about ‘proportion.’”

The senator, who is known for flouting conventions, including the Senate’s dress code, then turned his attention to South Africa.

“Let’s also talk about that now that we’re talking about ‘genocide,’ and now South Africa is bringing that to trial,” he said. “Maybe South Africa oughta sit this one out.”

South Africa presented its case to the International Court of Justice on Thursday that Israel’s military campaign against Hamas constitutes genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel has argued that the case is legally and factually baseless, and Israel’s Foreign Ministry accused South Africa of acting as the “legal arm of the Hamas terrorist organization.”

Israel is scheduled to present its side of the case to the court on Friday.

A clip of Fetterman’s comments criticizing South Africa went viral on social media overnight, with right-wing accounts that have large followings suggesting that Fetterman was referring to attacks on white farmers in South Africa as genocide.

“Did John Fetterman (D) just call out the white genocide in South Africa?” wrote an account called End Wokeness to its 2.1 million followers. Elon Musk, who owns X, shared the End Wokeness post with his 168.9 million followers. “He is right,” Musk wrote.

Fetterman
Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) on Jan. 5, 2024, near Valley Force National Park in Blue Bell, Pa. Credit: OogImages/Shutterstock.

“A great deal of South Africa’s best farmland is owned by white farmers, as a result of the eviction of black farmers when the country was ruled by a white minority,” Fox News reported.

“Although South Africa now has majority rule, land ownership remains a contentious issue, with parties like the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters mobilizing supporters and urging the government to seize white-owned land without compensation and return it to black families,” it added.

Others have claimed that black South Africans aim to commit genocide against white South Africans, and on Aug. 22, 2018, then-President Donald Trump posted, “I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. ‘South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.’”

The Anti-Defamation League calls the theory “a longstanding (and false) white supremacist claim.”

“For decades, white supremacists globally were cheerleaders for the institutionalized white supremacy of apartheid in South Africa. They have reacted bitterly to the end of the racist policy, and to the progress South Africans have made in pursuit of racial equality and reconciliation,” the ADL wrote.

“White supremacists have seized upon some of the farm-related violence in South Africa since the end of apartheid to peddle a propaganda campaign that exaggerates and distorts the situation to imply that South African whites are imperiled,” it added.

A spokesperson for Fetterman told JNS that the senator was not talking about the “white genocide” theory.

Nelson Mandela
View of Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island, off of Cape Town, South Africa, where the future South African president was incarcerated from 1964 to 1982. Photo by Menachem Wecker.

Fetterman told JNS that South Africa should pay attention closer to home. “The entirety of my point was this: South Africa should instead focus on the spiraling humanitarian crises on its own continent—like Sudan, where more than 7 million people have been displaced with widespread atrocities,” he said.

‘The last man standing’

In 2015, the South African government allowed former Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir to depart the country after he attended an African Union summit in Johannesburg despite a South African court ordering that he be detained over charges of genocide against him at the International Criminal Court.

A South African appeals court ruled in 2016 that then-South African President Jacob Zuma’s decision to let al-Bashir depart was unlawful and “disgraceful.”

Fetterman has emerged since Oct. 7 as one of the most vehemently pro-Israel voices in the Democratic Party.

In an interview with Politico in December, Fetterman said he is willing to continue standing with Israel even as a growing number of fellow Democrats call for a ceasefire in the war against Hamas.

“I would be the last man standing to be absolutely there on the Israeli side on this with no conditions,” he said.

At Wednesday’s OU event, Fetterman also hit back at anti-Israel protesters demanding a ceasefire. There will never be a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict until Hamas is eliminated, he said.

“Protests all around the nation. They’re blocking tunnels. They’re blocking roads. Why?” Fetterman asked. “Why aren’t they protesting: ‘When will we get the hostages home?’ Why aren’t they protesting Hamas? Why aren’t they protesting the systemic rape and torture of Israeli women and children? I will never get it.”

“Hamas is anathema to peace,” he added. “We’ll never have a stable, two-state solution, we’ll never have any peace for Israel until they are fully eliminated.”

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Israel is at war - Support JNS

JNS is combating the barrage of misinformation with factual reporting. We depend on your support.

Support JNS
Topics
Comments
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates