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MPs hijack SONA debate with antisemitic diatribes



Parliamentarians used the opportunity of the State of the Nation (SONA) debate on 14 February to descend into an anti-Israel and antisemitic free-for-all, without being hauled over the coals or ordered to stop.

“If you think the people of this country are going to allow you [the Democratic Alliance] to take this beautiful country, this city of Cape Town, of ours and hand it over to the Zionists, [then] the City of Cape Town will be a bloodbath, I can assure you that,” The National Freedom Party’s Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam said during the debate.

“We will not allow you to make this a Jewish state. My message to South Africans is, if you want to go back to the days of apartheid, you will pay the ultimate price.”

Mogamad Ganief Hendricks, a member of parliament and leader of the Al Jama-ah party, took the opportunit to pay tribute to Hamas, saying: “At this point in our history, it’s fitting to pay tribute to Palestinian resistance movements, led by Hamas.

“Arrest warrants for complicity must also be issued in South Africa to religious leaders like a respected rabbi [presumably Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein], and organisations like the [South African Jewish] Board [of Deputies] and the [South African Zionist] Federation. These organisations, president, must be shut down.”

This is the second time that Hendricks has called for the arrests of South African Jewish community leaders.

Hendricks also stated that “Al Jama-ah unequivocally states that it will never forget those South African political parties for having pledged their support for the Zionist’s state’s agenda.”

“Sitting in SONA was like sitting in Disney World,” says Member of Parliament Darren Bergman, the deputy shadow minister of trade and industry, and former shadow minister of international relations and cooperation. “Politicians playing to the emotions of the anti-Zionist vote, trying to impress the ANC [African National Congress]. Coming from a divided past in South Africa, it should be obvious that people would want to preach peace and unity. However, some were so hellbent on pushing a violent rhetoric that you were left wondering whether their passion was for the complete destruction of Israel.

“It was obvious that a lot of politicians have already gone into the danger zone that the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks warned the world about when he said that this was the language of the ‘new antisemite’,” says Bergman. “Thankfully, the house is balanced by people that are well-versed in world affairs. It will be up to South Africans to use their power at the ballot box to drown out the warmongers and vote in peace lovers.”

Indeed, at the same SONA debate, African Christian Democratic Party leader, Kenneth Meshoe, wearing a blue-and-white tie bearing the Star of David, said the government taking Israel to the International Court of Justice wouldn’t improve the situation in Gaza. Meshoe accused the ANC of denying Israel’s right to exist within secure borders, and emphasised that to end the war, South Africa should prevail on Hamas to release all hostages.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola criticised both Meshoe and the Democratic Alliance (DA), echoing Emam’s conspiracy theories. “The reason the DA government harasses the people who support Palestine is that they understand nothing about freedom and human rights. They want to create a white enclave state within the Republic of South Africa,” said Lamola.

Advocate Mark Oppenheimer, who has appeared in the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court in cases that seek to determine the boundary between freedom of expression and genuine hate speech, says Emam’s speech “strikes me as incredibly threatening language, by saying that there will be a ‘bloodbath’. It appears to be a call to violence. There are obviously antisemitic undertones on the basis that this will occur if Cape Town is turned into a ‘Jewish state’, whatever that may mean. It’s a speech that may very well amount to genuine hate speech and should be roundly condemned.

“The statements made by Al Jama-ah are also highly antisemitic, and call for the state to use its own police force to subject harm to the chief rabbi and the leaders of Jewish non-governmental organisations. This type of antisemitism shouldn’t be tolerated,” he says.

MP Michael Bagraim, the shadow minister for employment and labour, says, “The speeches given by Emam and Hendricks were so detached from reality that it was almost like living in another universe. Both individuals have bought into the ANC plan to discuss the Middle East, trying their utmost to avoid discussing the complete collapse of our civil service and the South African economy. Very willingly and vociferously, Emam and Hendricks completely fell for this nonsense. Unfortunately for them, their rhetoric has exposed them, warts and all. Modern-day antisemites try to avoid using the words ‘Jews’ and ‘Jewish’. They tend to speak about ‘Israel’ and ‘Zionism’ as if it has nothing to do with being Jewish, which they believe will create a certain immunity for them.

“In this case, the real meaning was exposed by Emam stating, ‘We will not allow you to make this a Jewish state.’ Herewith lies the true meaning of their speeches,” says Bagraim. “Coupled with this antisemitism, we see the threat from Emam, ‘You will pay the ultimate price.’ This is a direct threat to South African Jews, and is both unparliamentary and criminal. Hopefully action will be taken in due course.”

South African Jewish Board of Deputies Associate Director David Saks says, “This isn’t the first instance of Emam using Parliament as a vehicle for his antisemitic statements nor of the DA being smeared as ‘the Jew party’ for vote-grabbing purposes, particularly in the Western Cape. What’s new is his readiness to use inflammatory language that borders on incitement to violence. Add Hendricks’ brazen demands for the fundamental rights of the Jewish community to be abolished, and if allowed to continue, this will poison our democratic culture. We’re considering our options.”

South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) spokesperson Rolene Mark says the SAZF “has noted the recurring trend of political parties leveraging hostile rhetoric against Israel as a means of garnering support. It’s crucial to recognise that such expressions align with an Iranian and Hamas agenda, serving to sow division.

“It’s evident that this tactic of using inflammatory rhetoric isn’t only desperate but also counterproductive, and won’t change voters’ minds on the core issues affecting South Africa,” Marks says.

“It’s important to emphasise that these parties don’t represent the majority of South Africans. Their actions not only align our country with the worst autocrats in the world, but also hinder our ability to engage in meaningful relationships on the international stage. By attacking Israel, they are trying to cut ties with its innovative technologies and shared interests. This isn’t the will of the South African people. The SAZF, its partners, and allies will continue to fight against this negative influence. The SAZF encourages all South Africans to register to vote in support of parties that are in favour of a positive future for South Africa.”

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  1. Jessica

    Feb 25, 2024 at 4:48 pm

    That these Islamist fanatics are allowed to threaten the Jewish community so brazenly proves once more that antisemitism today overwhelmingly originates from the New Left.

    Far-right antisemites doing the same would already be languishing in prison awaiting trial.

  2. yitzchak

    Feb 25, 2024 at 4:55 pm

    “Apartheid Israel”?
    No,’ affirmative action Israel!’
    If prejudiced affirmative action is OK for RSA All Arab states, Harvard University then why is it prohibited
    in the case of Israel? It is precisely the prejudice against us which has led to Israel’s establishment.

    Try getting a job in Egypt as a copt

    We have a numerous clausus in RSA to the detriment of society with party cadre deployment with no skills or competencies.

    As for BRICS… currently Iran and China are giving Russia drones to fight the Ukrainians
    Some mafiosis! and we want to change the world order.

    Now for applications to 2024 Purim Shpiel:

    Many years ago in a little town called Tshwane a drama played out to the sound of vuvuzelas:

    Personae :

    1) Vashti will be played by Pandor.!
    2)Zeresh.. Haman’s wife to be played by Hanan Ashrawi
    3)The above parliamentarians will play Haman
    4)Haman’s sons must include all the antagonists in DIRCO

    5) Rabbi Goldstein will play Mordechai
    6) Wendy Kahn will play Ester of course

    (5 and 6 work so hard for us)

    7) Ahaseurus will be played by the President who will drag us all into gehinom.
    8) Little red riding hoodlum will play himself as the court Jester

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