Kasrils’ ‘mask slips’ in speech glorifying Hamas atrocities
Jewish-born Ronnie Kasrils, former South African minister of intelligence and longtime champion of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) organisation has come under fire for celebrating Hamas’ massacre of innocent civilians on 7 October.
“They swept on them, and they killed them, and damned good! I was so pleased,” he told “comrades” at a recent anti-Israel gathering in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, referring to the most heinous slaughtering of Jews since the Holocaust.
Kasrils, a long serving patron of BDS, which describes itself as a non-violent human rights organisation, called it a “brilliant, spectacular, guerrilla warfare attack, which will go down in the annals of guerrilla warfare and resistance”.
A short video clip of the lecture by Kasrils, the former chief of intelligence in the African National Congress’s armed wing, uMkhonto weSizwe, was posted without comment on X by Na’eem Jeenah, the executive director of the Afro-Middle East Centre.
It appears to have since been deleted, but can still be viewed on the accounts of several BDS-supporting advocates who themselves seem to have balked at Kasrils’ jubilant praise for the murdering of innocent civilians.
In it, Kasrils said, “They surprised the Israeli Gaza division, that has locked them in [sic], that controls the beleaguered Gaza, and has been responsible for killing, murdering, maiming Gaza people in five previous all-out wars [sic], where so many children and women died, and you know all about that. And people who support resistance applauded it, absolutely. If we had been able to spring a surprise on the Boers, and knock down 100 of them, the people would have been rejoicing to the rooftops. It’s the struggle, the armed struggle, and in international law, the occupied law, agreed, accepted international law, that they have the right to that kind of resistance.”
Attempts this week to get comment from members of BDS-SA and aligned sub-groups as to whether the organisation condoned and supported Kasrils’ support of violence were unsuccessful.
During the lecture, which veers off course, Kasrils described Hamas, a designated terrorist organisation, as a liberation movement and said, “There’s no way the resistance killed 1 200 citizens that day.” Instead, he blamed the death, mayhem, and destruction on Israeli tanks when they “blindly opened fire, killing many people”.
“No-one was beheaded, no-one was raped, and only one baby died,” Kasrils said.
“Whatever you think of Hamas or Islamic jihad, they are very religious people. They wouldn’t touch a non-Muslim woman not even touch or shake hands. This is all the kind of exaggeration that Israelis are using, that the Zionists in this country are using, the SA Jewish Report that has just come out … in spite of all these lies having been exposed.”
Joel Pollak, senior editor-at-large at Breitbart News and the author of The Kasrils Affair: Jews and Minority Politics in Post-Apartheid South Africa, said Kasrils, who draws on his Jewish heritage while expressing opposition to Israel, “is wrong on the facts and the law”.
“Israel no longer occupied Gaza after 2005, and didn’t ‘lock in’ the population; it allowed limited numbers of Gazans to work in Israel.
“There have not been five ‘all-out’ wars,” Pollak wrote. “Israel largely refrained from ground invasions in recent conflicts, all of which were started by Hamas and other terror organisations, which have launched rockets at Israel in an effort to kill Israeli civilians.
“Kasrils is wrong about a so-called ‘right’ to resist occupation violently. In fact, the Hamas attack was a brazen violation of international law, and targeted civilians including children, women, and the elderly. Roughly 240 were taken hostage.”
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) lambasted Kasrils, who made no attempt to “conceal his glee over the massacre”.
“Not just Jewish people, but all people with a grain of humanity were appalled by the atrocities perpetrated on that hideous day,” the Board said.
“On 7 October 2023, the world was shown the face of true barbarity. Yet Ronnie Kasrils rejoices and delights in those monstrous crimes. BDS stalwart Na’eem Jeenah was sufficiently inspired by Kasrils’ celebration of the Hamas murder spree to share it without comment on his X account. Why, one can only wonder, would someone feted by the media as a Middle East expert so clearly endorse the celebration of genocide? BDS SA spokesperson Roshan Dadoo was present when Kasrils was speaking. What exactly was her reaction at the time?” the Board asked.
“All this goes to show, yet again, the falseness of the claims of BDS and its ilk to be a ‘human rights’ movement. That mask has now unambiguously slipped to reveal for all to see the vile Jew hatred lurking behind the cause it supposedly espouses.”
SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn said, “Mr Kasrils there’s a name for people like you who delight in the systematic murder of Jews. The word is antisemite, and throughout history, there have been many like you who have taken similar joy in murdering Jews.”
Benji Shulman, director of public policy at the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), said the SAZF condemned the glorification of violence and the support for Hamas that is apparent in Kasrils’ speech.
“It shows further that the BDS movement that Kasrils supports is in support of violence and isn’t the non-violent, democratic group it claims to be,” he said.
“In addition, Ronnie Kasrils is lying about South African history and the fact that South Africans targeted civilians, when in fact many precautions were taken to limit that, unlike Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups that have made the targeting of civilians part of their military doctrine.”
Hate speech expert, advocate Mark Oppenheimer said Kasrils clearly celebrated the death of innocent Jews and Israelis killed by Hamas.
Referring to a prior case involving trade union Solidarity and Black First Land First (BLF), it was held that when members of BLF celebrated the deaths of three white children who were killed in a tragic accident, the celebration amounted to hate speech on the grounds that it promoted hatred against a racial group and was harmful to that group because it undermined their dignity.
“It may well be that in order to stem the tide of rising antisemitism, it’s important that members of the Jewish community pick a case – and unfortunately there have been so many in the past few weeks – and make an example of these individuals spouting hate speech.
“Ronnie Kasrils in particular would strike me as a person worthy of making such an example of given his prominence and his ability to rely on the fact that he was born Jewish to attack other Jews and spout anti-Jewish hatred,” he said.