Subscribe to our Newsletter

click to dowload our latest edition



Community blamed for Jenin raid at Cape vigil



Less than 50 people gathered for a “vigil for Jenin” in Cape Town on Sunday, 9 July, and though the crowd was tiny, the message was concerning. Participants held signs saying, “Today’s Jenin refugee camp massacre funded or enabled by South African Zionists.”

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) spokesperson, Professor Usuf Chikte, said, “This crime against humanity is enabled by South African Zionists, an extreme, anti-Palestinian racist network, supporting Israeli state terror and settler pogroms against defenceless Palestinians in refugee camps trapped under illegal occupation, under the jackboot of Israeli fascism.”

The event was organised by the PSC. According to Mogamad Nazier Paulsen, a Western Cape member of the National Assembly for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), “EFF members from Cape Metro participated [in the vigil]… the Western Cape government refuses to deregister [Herzlia School]. We share a province with children who grow up to murder Palestinians with the blessing of a DA [Democratic Alliance]-led government.”

The posters, the speeches, and Paulsen’s comment all emphasised that the Jenin raid and the larger conflict was the “fault” of South African Jewry, which is largely Zionist. According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism, “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” is antisemitic, as is “making stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective”.

Günther Jikeli, the Erna B. Rosenfeld Associate Professor at the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at Indiana University, told the SA Jewish Report, “The PSC campaign on Jenin is an example of a smear campaign with grossly exaggerated accusations not only against Israel but also, thinly veiled, against the South African Jewish community, with strong antisemitic overtones.”

Local antisemitism expert and emeritus professor of history at the University of Cape Town, Milton Shain, said, “The determination of Jew-haters to drag the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into the South African political arena is disturbing. Supporters of Israel are crudely accused of enabling Israeli actions and defining its policies. This is puerile. Worryingly, these efforts could well gather pace as we move towards the 2024 general election.”

Jevon Greenblatt, operations director of the Community Security Organisation, said, “Increased tension in the Middle East often leads to dangerous rhetoric locally, which can affect the safety and security of our community. It’s well documented that words often turn into actions, so this is something we monitor closely.”

Chikte also made a number of “demands” at the vigil. He demanded that the Israeli ambassador be declared persona non grata and that South Africa sever all diplomatic relations with Israel; that South Africa isolate Israel through boycott, divestment, and sanctions; that the National Prosecuting Authority expedite cases of South Africans serving in the Israel Defense Forces; and for the department of sports, arts, and culture to implement a sporting and cultural boycott.

Rowan Polovin, the national chairperson of the South African Zionist Federation said, “Professor Chikte is deliberately misleading South Africans by ignoring the context and rationale behind Israel’s military action in Jenin last week. The town of Jenin in the West Bank is a hotbed of terrorist activity, with hideouts storing illegal ammunition, bomb-making factories, and illicit stashes of cash for operations that target and kill innocent Jews in Israel.

“The terror cells targeted by Israeli forces in the surgical operation in Jenin tracked down ammunition and 300 explosive devices which were hidden beneath mosques, schools, and hospitals. These actions by Palestinian extremists, who target civilians as well as hide behind them, are international war crimes that put Palestinian civilians in harm’s way.

“The majority of terrorist attacks in Israel in the past year emanated from Palestinians living in Jenin, or from those given free rein to hide there and plan attacks,” said Polovin. “The Palestinian Authority’s own security has been unable to clamp down on these activities, leaving it to the Israeli security forces to take measures to protect civilian lives and thwart further acts of terror which have killed innocent Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Israel.

“Last week’s counter-terror operation came about at the exact same time as a terror stabbing attack in Tel Aviv, which left a number of innocent people in hospital, and tragically, resulted in the murder of an Israeli baby before it was even born,” he said. “The baby’s mother, who was pregnant, is still recovering in hospital. To draw a comparison – the 12 Palestinians killed in Jenin were all combatants and violent political extremists, and Israel’s security forces should be commended for preventing the loss of innocent Palestinian lives.

“Zionism is the quest of Jews to live in freedom and self-determination in their ancient homeland of Israel following millennia of persecution, and for the Jewish state to live side by side in peace with her neighbours,” said Polovin. “It follows that for anyone to refer to Zionists as racists is itself an obscene statement of racism and antisemitism, and should be condemned in the strongest terms.”

“Once again, we see a sustained attack upon the Zionist idea – the legitimate right of Jews to a nation-state,” said Shain. “This was agreed to by the United Nations in 1947. Today, the Zionist idea has been mangled and a complex geo-political problem simplified. Criticism of Israel no longer needs to be argued. It has become axiomatic. In other words, Manichaean simplicities have replaced rational thinking.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *