OpinionIsrael at War

South Africa’s antisemitic firestorm

We must demand sanctions on the South African regime before it can incite a global assault on the Jewish people.

Map of South Africa. Image: Wead/Shutterstock
Map of South Africa. Image: Wead/Shutterstock
Saadia Mascarini
Saadia Mascarini is an Italian Jewish and Zionist activist. He is chair of Tamar Italia, the Zionist organization of young Italian Reform Jews.

Millions of Jews around the world are currently turning their attention to The Hague, where the South African government has brought a baseless case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In a move that is both ironic and monstrous, South Africa accuses Israel of committing genocide during its war against the genocidal terror group Hamas. Compounding South Africa’s blood libel is the fact that the term “genocide” was coined by Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin in 1944 to describe the Holocaust. Not content to defame the Jews, South Africa has appropriated the work of a Jew in order to do so.

It is very clear that South Africa, long identified with institutionalized racism and the fight against it, is now a world leader in promoting racism and racist violence against both Israel and the Jewish people as a whole.

Indeed, South Africa’s false charges do not only pose a danger to Israel’s international standing, but would give a green light to antisemites worldwide, who have taken every opportunity in recent months to spew antisemitic propaganda and incite violence against Jews.

For example, a wave of antisemitic violence was unleashed last October when Hamas falsely claimed that Israel had bombed a hospital in Gaza. Shockingly, the international media swallowed this narrative almost without question. After Hamas’s claims proved baseless, the media covered up its obvious antisemitism with the excuse of mere journalistic error. If there’s one thing that Israel’s war against Hamas has proven, it is that antisemitism is not only alive and well, but that the media seems more than willing to fuel it.

Given the explosion of global antisemitism that followed the fake news of the hospital bombing, the potential magnitude of the reaction that would ensue if a United Nations body like the ICJ deemed the genocide accusation against Israel plausible is enormous. Indeed, anyone who has glanced at social media in recent days knows that an atmosphere of toxic racism is forming around the ICJ case. A horde of haters is lurking like a pack of wolves eyeing its prey. They are drooling with anticipation at the antisemitic violence they will commit if the false charges stick.

They very well may, given that the ICJ is an organ of the U.N. The U.N. has not merely demonstrated total indifference to the rights and security of the Jewish people; it has engaged in gaslighting, prejudice, double standards, racism and in some cases open hostility towards Jews. At a time when Jews are forced to be very cautious about trusting others, placing faith in a U.N. body is close to impossible.

The U.N.’s racism is manifest in its hypocrisy and double standards. Where are the ICJ proceedings against China regarding the Uyghurs? What about Iran, which constantly calls for Israel’s destruction and commits horrific violence against Jews? Perhaps some not-so-brilliant Israeli politicians have said bad things, but if the U.N. is so concerned about them, why does it say nothing about the genocidal rhetoric of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority? What about the Palestinian school textbooks that openly call for the genocide of the Jewish people, funded by the U.N. itself through its Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA? Indeed, the case can be made that the U.N. is thus complicit in incitement to genocide. Will it hold itself accountable?

To counter South Africa’s blood libel, Jews worldwide must take a clear and resolute stance. We must send the message that enough is enough. It’s time for the Diaspora to wake up and fight back against those who attack us. We must unambiguously call out the hypocrisy of those who conceal their hatred behind the façade of humanitarian concern.

The first step is to demand an international boycott of South Africa, as well as all other state and non-state actors involved in the persecution of Israel and the Jewish people. During the apartheid era, the South African government practiced state-sponsored racism. Tragically, the country’s ostensibly “anti-racist” government is doing the same today. The only moral response is to do what was done to the apartheid regime: Isolate it from the community of nations.

We must also demand a moral reckoning with the ICJ. The court now has a historic responsibility towards the Jewish people. If it upholds the false accusation of genocide, it will set off an antisemitic firestorm. We must make it clear that this will demolish the moral integrity of the ICJ forever.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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