The truth behind Malema’s ‘Jewish sniper’ jibe
At a media briefing on land reform last week at EFF headquarters in Braamfontein, the leader of the red berets said, “There’s a group of white right-wingers who are being trained by Jews in Pretoria to be snipers.”
His statement is untrue.
Malema is believed to be basing his wild accusations on the work of one maverick Israeli, who has lived in South Africa for 15 years. He runs a self-defence school in Centurion that trains anyone requesting help.
Idan Abolnik, described by some as “an eccentric, nonconformist” self-defence expert, runs a company called Kalah Combat. According to his website, he specialises in armed and unarmed combat using his experience in the Israeli Defence Force.
According to certain communal leaders who don’t want to be quoted or associated with him, Abolnik’s training methods are “unconventional”. They say that many in the security community have distanced themselves from him and his work completely.
Abolnik told the SA Jewish Report this week that he is “not involved” with the South African Jewish community.
Videos of him training white farmers, filmed some time ago, show him engaging with farmers on how to defend themselves against farm attacks.
He said he trained anyone interested in learning how to defend themselves. He admitted his training was “extreme” because he said, “the reality in the country is extreme”.
“It does not matter if you are black or white or whatever, to me it’s all the same,” he insisted.
Abolnik posted a rambling message to Malema on his Facebook page in response to his comments. Written in broken English, Abolnik said: “Julius Malema here some information you need to know. I train all colours, cultures, religions, or what I like to call human beings We all human.”
He added, “I don’t train right wings or left wings I train all peoples want to defence they family And them self regardless they colors belive etc.
“I never give any sniping training in South Africa or around the world. Yes, I train South Africa farmers, and I am happy I can help them to be able to protect them self and they families like I am happy to train South Africa police or security personal for me is the same thing.”
Abolnik said he wanted all people to live in peace, respect each other, and work together.
Condemnation for Malema’s remarks has been negligible, with only a handful of politicians willing to stand up to his populism. So far, the ruling party’s silence has been deafening.
The Democratic Alliance’s National Spokesperson, Solly Malatsi, condemned Malema’s rant as “divisive and undemocratic”.
“These comments are yet another example of the EFF’s crusade to divide South Africans on the basis of race. This kind of racial rhetoric is fundamentally undemocratic, and goes against the non-racial South Africa our country committed to building in 1994.
“The EFF must once and for all admit that they are a nationalistic organisation that seeks to and thrives on dividing South Africans with hate. No South African deserves to be vilified and excluded by any political organisation solely based on their race, heritage, or culture.”
The DA’s John Steenhuisen also criticised Malema, accusing him of going after different races and religions in South Africa “one-by-one”.
“First Malema went for white South Africans, then Indian South Africans, and now Jewish South Africans – the demagoguery knows no bounds.”
Malema’s remarks prompted numerous comments on social media. One Vuyo Ngxaki said: “It’s not a lie. Israeli forces were here training boers to ‘defend themselves’, it was all over the news and you losers never said anything about it. You’re only playing victim now that you’ve been exposed. You’re playing with fire here.”
The SAJBD issued a statement saying, “Julius Malema’s comments are in line with what has become typical of his attention-seeking behaviour. His constant singling out of minority groups in our country is aimed at creating racial tension.
“This is a real pity, because we are at a time in our history where we need to be conscious of the dangers of inflammatory words. What we need now, more than ever, is for our politicians to show leadership, not divisiveness.”
Some criticised the Board for its “appeasement approach”, calling for more decisive action.
Said Kevin Abrahams, “The SAJBD is toothless. It simply doesn’t seem to be able to bring any kind of pressure to bear on those who defame South African Jews. The result is growing incidence of ‘Judophobic’ messages in society. Lay a charge against Malema, and force him to back up his defamatory claims. Or, accept that hundreds of thousands of people will believe this story, at increasing risk to the South African Jewish community.”
Reverend Kenneth Meshoe tweeted, “Black South Africans must not be fooled by Julius Malema, who claims he’s ready for war. He’s surrounded by bodyguards who’ll whisk him away and hide him from danger if war does take place. Peace loving South Africans must speak out against Malema and all those calling for war.
“If you study EFF policy documents, you’ll discover that it wants all South African land to belong to the state, and not to people like you. Unless you are in the inner circle, you will not get any land to own with a title deed, but you might get land to rent from the state.”
Meanwhile, Abolnik insists that farmers, just like anyone who felt threatened, had the right to know how to defend themselves.
“In our training, we not sings song to kill other people. In our training, he don’t have hate speech… in our training we… pray for South Africa, pray for the government in South Africa… we talk about respect each other, love each other black or white. We don’t talk about death, we talk about life.”
Despite numerous attempts to contact Malema, his spokesperson, and anyone representing the EFF for comment, we were simply ignored.