EFF promises to arm Hamas
“The EFF [Economic Freedom Fighters], when it takes over next year, is going to arm Hamas and make sure Hamas has the necessary equipment to fight for its freedom,” said EFF leader Julius Malema to thousands of supporters picketing outside the Israeli embassy in Tshwane on 23 October.
In the crowd, people held up signs with the Hamas logo. One flag included the words, “We are all Qassam [Hamas’ military wing]. We are all jihad.”
“We’re not only going to arm Hamas, we’re going to remove this [Israeli] embassy because we can’t stay with murderers in the same area,” said Malema, leader of the country’s third biggest political party. “Condemning Hamas is an act of cowardice. I heard fools saying we can’t compare Hamas and Mandela, [but] they are the same. There’s nothing wrong with what Hamas is doing.”
His statements came as the full extent of the atrocities committed by Hamas on 7 October are being revealed, including torture while the victims were still alive. This includes cutting off fingers, toes, breasts and feet, gouging out eyes, castration and then putting the organ in the victim’s mouth, burning children alive in front of their parents, burning alive people of all ages, stabbing a baby through the head, raping until pelvises broke, and beheading civilians.
On the social media platform X, Floyd Shivambu backed Malema, saying, “Today, we categorically state that there’s nothing wrong with the activities of the Islamic resistance movement [Hamas] in defending the Palestinian land against the racist, apartheid, and Zionist state of Israel. Condemning Hamas is cowardice! No retreat!”
Advocate Mark Oppenheimer, who has appeared in the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court in a series of cases that seek to determine the boundary between freedom of expression and genuine hate speech, says, “The Brenthurst Foundation has just produced an election poll which shows the EFF climbing up from 11% to 17%, and with the ANC declining to 41%. The combination of those parties would allow them to form a government. This should send chills down every right-thinking South African’s spine on the basis that both of those organisations have come out in full support of Hamas.
“The EFF said that when it’s in government, it intends to supply arms to Hamas. This isn’t a far-fetched scenario. Julius Malema has testified in open court that he intends to be the president of this country, and there’s clearly a coalition path that would allow for him to be part of the government,” says Oppenheimer.
“When you’re oppressed, the only option is to confront the enemy and shoot to kill,” said Malema. “This place [outside the Israeli embassy] will become our permanent residence. We must never allow them to forget that they are murderers. Identify where McDonald’s and Woolworths are found, very soon action will be announced. Remove anything ‘apartheid’ from your fridge. Even our dogs don’t deserve to eat it,” he said.
He criticised McDonald’s as he believed it was “giving Israeli soldiers food. We want McDonald’s in South Africa to distance itself from those acts. It has until the end of this month to issue a statement distancing itself from what McDonald’s is doing in Israel, giving murderers food. Woolworths has got to by the end of this month remove any product on its shelves that comes from Israel. If it doesn’t do it, we’ll go and do it ourselves. We don’t want any product of Israel sold here in South Africa,” said Malema.
“Mr Malema states that there should be boycotts of Woolworths and McDonald’s for supporting Israel,” says Oppenheimer. “Jewish South Africans may want to take a similar view about the EFF, which is that they should boycott that organisation because it has shown an absolute hatred for Jews and for Israel, and has supported the killing of innocent civilians, the burning down of villages, and taking of hostages.
“Jews who have supported the EFF either by doing business with it or financially, may take this as an opportunity to no longer support an organisation that hates Jews,” says Oppenheimer. “Gabi Farber, who had been a member of the African National Congress for some time, recently resigned from the organisation on the basis that it had shown open support for Hamas and failed to condemn the horrific acts of terrorism by Hamas. That’s a shining example for other Jews to disassociate themselves both from the ANC and the EFF.”
Ian Levitt, attorney for the EFF, also speaking on behalf of Advocate Laurance Hodes, counsel for the party, told the SA Jewish Report, “We observe the principle of ‘never again’. We need to educate about the distinction between Palestinians and Hamas. We don’t cower or run anymore. We engage with the view to educating and resolving the issues. Hamas started a war against all Jews in accordance with its charter, but we’ll end this war against it once and for all. We begin with dialogue and engagement [with the EFF] with the view to education. If we don’t resolve the conflict in this way, we’ll reassess the situation accordingly.”
Malema reiterated a number of times that his fight was “not against Jews”. He also called for any academic ties between Israeli and South African universities to be cut. The University of Cape Town Palestinian Solidarity Forum (UCT PSF) shared almost all of Malema’s statements on its social media platforms and said it would “strive to make this [the cutting of academic ties] happen, starting with UCT”. The institution has allowed support for terrorism to flourish on its campus [see page 8].
The EFF was joined by Al-Jama-ah leader Ismail Moosa and African Radical Economic Transformation Alliance leader and former spokesman for MK (Umkhonto we Sizwe), Carl Niehaus, and their supporters.
Niehaus emphasised that there should be “no two-state solution”. “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea,” he said. “We understand why the people of Palestine raised arms against apartheid Israel,” he said. “And we stand with the people of Palestine in the armed resistance. We understand the armed resistance of Hamas and Hezbollah, and we’re calling on the South African government to arm Hamas.”
The EFF also wrote a letter to the speaker of Parliament requesting the removal of the Israeli embassy. “Given the sensitivity and nature of the proposed draft resolution, we respectfully request that the speaker, in the capacity of chairperson of the National Assembly Programming Committee [NAPC], convene an urgent meeting to ensure the draft resolution is tabled before the end of the week,” they wrote on 23 October.
“Mr Malema prides himself on causing division among fellow South Africans using his trademark hateful rhetoric. He’s a man full of hate,” says South African Jewish Board of Deputies National Chairperson Professor Karen Milner. “Malema has been remarkably quiet for the past two weeks, but chooses now to associate [South African] freedom fighters with rape, the murder of babies, and kidnapping. We’ve never seen any evidence to suggest that such tactics were used by South African freedom fighters.
“Fortunately, we have laws – locally and internationally – that prohibit incitement and threats to violence. We will keep all options open,” she says.
Benji Shulman, the director of public policy at the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), says, “The SAZF reaffirms that Hamas isn’t a liberation movement, but an internationally recognised terrorist organisation. The SAZF is in no way concerned that the EFF will be taking over or obtaining many more votes in the national elections next year. The SAZF believes that South Africans are fully aware of the EFF’s populist tendencies, and that South Africans won’t choose to support a violent and extremist party at the polls in 2024.”