SA ‘uses Holocaust as a weapon against Jews’
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish global human rights organisation, on 9 November released a statement criticising the South African government’s decision to recall its diplomats from Israel and its “outrageous accusation that Israel was committing a Holocaust against the Palestinians in Gaza”.
Dr Efraim Zuroff, the centre’s Israel director and senior Holocaust historian, told the SA Jewish Report that the government’s statement was distressing. “One of my jobs is to protect an accurate narrative of Holocaust history, and this isn’t about the Holocaust, but this is important to the Jewish people. Like never before, we have seen that Jews have been mercilessly and barbarically murdered by terrorists.
“Before we know it, the South African government pulls all its diplomats out of Israel instead of announcing its support of Israel. This is somewhat a personal issue for me as two of my grandfather’s brothers left Lithuania to come to South Africa and I still have some family members in Johannesburg,” Zuroff said.
“I have fought my entire life for justice for victims of the Holocaust, to try and educate people on the Holocaust and preserve the memory of the Holocaust,” Zuroff said. “When the South African government accuses Israel of committing a Holocaust, as if Israel wasn’t attacked and more than 1 200 people killed, it minimises the attacks done by the murderous, barbaric Hamas terrorists. These attacks were done with no respect for human life,” Zuroff said.
To combat denial of these attacks, Zuroff said, it was important to show the impact of the mass murder in Israel. However, he conceded that some have already made up their minds and won’t see or hear the truth. “In that case, nothing is going to change their minds. Their decision is built on hate. It’s built on antisemitism, and it’s built on a refusal of the truth,” he said.
In terms of the South African government’s decision to recall its diplomats, Zuroff said, “Such accusations are totally false and extremely reprehensible, turning the victims of barbaric Hamas terror into perpetrators of those very crimes. The South African government should be ashamed of itself, learn the accurate history of World War II and the Holocaust, and appropriately change its foreign policy.
“South Africa has people who are Holocaust educators, so the government can easily learn the facts and what the Holocaust means for us in order to understand the ignorance of its comments about Israel. [The government] doesn’t seem to understand that it always starts with the Jews, but never ends with the Jews. Hamas can come for it next. Hamas doesn’t want peace. It wants a world without any non-Muslims.
“If a body like the South African government accuses Israel of committing genocide and a Holocaust, I can promise you, you’ll be hearing this again and again. If you don’t criticise it, you don’t call it out for its ignorance, then it will use [the Holocaust] again and again,” Zuroff told the SA Jewish Report.
“The Holocaust is the ultimate weapon. So many try to claim that their cause is similar to the Holocaust. They try to use the Holocaust for causes which are nowhere near identical. We must call them out. The Holocaust was done to Jewish people, and will hopefully never be repeated.
“If someone is ignorant enough to call what happened in Israel a genocide, the facts don’t matter, and that’s the problem. The South African government doesn’t care about what is going on in Gaza. Hamas doesn’t want a Palestinian state. It wants to destroy Israel and take over all the territory. Hamas doesn’t want peace. If we want to survive and thrive in the state of Israel, we have to destroy Hamas.
“Jews have to reject these accusations,” Zuroff said. “You must also question the impact on Jews living in South Africa. The government doesn’t feel protective towards Jewish people in South Africa even though Jews are important citizens. If there’s no protection for Jews, Jews should reassess and analyse their situation.
“It always starts with words. These words are dangerous and hurtful to the Jews. They are turning the victims of the Holocaust into perpetrators.” Zuroff said.