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Jewish Leaders in South Africa Slam ANC Government’s Move to Prosecute Israel at International Court

Pro-Hamas demonstrators march in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Reuters/Nic Bothma

Jewish leaders in South Africa have angrily condemned the decision of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to refer Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in its war against the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza.

In an application filed with The Hague-based ICJ last Friday, South Africa claimed that Israel “has engaged in, is engaging in, and risks further engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

It further accused the Jewish state of acting “with the requisite specific intent … to destroy Palestinians in Gaza as part of the broader Palestinian national, racial, and ethnic group.”

Responding to the ICJ application, South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein, accused the ANC government of serving the Iranian regime’s interests.

Calling the genocide allegations “grotesquely false” in a post on X/Twitter, Goldstein accused the government of acting “as Iran’s ally and proxy in the Islamic state’s plans to destroy the Jewish state through its multifaceted strategy, a critical element of which is to undermine Israel’s legal and moral right to defend itself.”

Iran is the main international sponsor of Hamas, providing the Palestinian terrorist group with funds, arms, and training.

Goldstein added that the ANC supports “Iranian proxy Hamas in its war crimes of using its own civilian population as a human shield to cause maximum Palestinian casualties so as to delegitimize Israel’s just war of self-defense, thereby to neutralize its military superiority.”

Goldstein had particularly harsh words for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, whom he said had drawn the country closer to Iran and Hamas while in office.

“As far back as 2007, the SA government invited Hamas to the country on an official visit,” he noted. “And at the 2017 ANC conference which elected Ramaphosa as its president, a Hamas delegation was in attendance.”

He added that “of late, Ramaphosa led the charge to admit Iran into the Brics grouping” — a reference to the bloc led by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa that presents itself as a counter to the global influence of the US — and that “in the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 7 massacres, the SA government dispatched its foreign minister to Tehran in a show of support of the Iranian administration.”

Strong criticism was also voiced by Rolene Marks, the spokesperson for the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), who charged that the government was using the Palestinian issue to deflect from its woeful domestic record.

“This move seems designed to distract from the government’s own spectacular domestic failures,” Marks said in a statement that was shared with The Algemeiner. Citing statistics on crime that revealed an average of 75 murders and 120 rapes daily, Marks asserted that the ANC’s “focus on Israel is not only misplaced but negligent.”

South Africa temporarily withdrew its diplomats from Israel and shuttered its embassy in Tel Aviv shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom, saying that the Pretoria government was “extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians” in Gaza. Last month, two Hamas officials  — Bassem Naim, a member of the terrorist organization’s politburo, and Khaled Qaddoumi, its official representative in Iran — arrived in South Africa to attend a government-sponsored conference in solidarity with the Palestinians as well as ceremonies commemorating the 10th anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who led the ANC in its struggle against apartheid.

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Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community

The Jewish community in Toronto lost a towering leader when Rabbi Dovid Schochet, the president of the Toronto Rabbinical Council and the senior rabbi of the Chabad community in Toronto, passed away at the age of 91 on Jan. 28. He was born in 1932 in Basel, Switzerland, the second of 10 children, to Rabbi […]

The post Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Attacker in 2021 Antisemitic Assault in New York Sentenced to Three Years in State Prison

Joseph Borgen, victim of an antisemitic attack, addressing a rally in Long Island. Photo: courtesy

The final criminal proceeding for the case of Joseph “Joey” Borgen, a Jewish man whom a gang of antisemites mauled and pepper-sprayed in broad daylight during protests and counter-protests over Israel’s 2021 war with Hamas, resulted in another conviction Wednesday.

Mohammed Said Othman, 29, was sentenced to three years in state prison, according to a press release issued by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg.

Borgen, who is Jewish, was wearing a kippah while walking in Manhattan when Said Othman, along with several other men, ambushed him without being provoked. They shouted antisemitic slurs at the pro-Israel advocate, who suffered a concussion, wrist injury, black eye, and bruises all over his body.

Since then, three other sentences have been handed down in the Borgen case. Waseem Awawdeh, who continuously struck Borgen with a crutch while allegedly joining the others in shouting antisemitic epithets at him, pleaded guilty to attempted assault as a hate crime and received 18 months in jail, as part of a plea bargain negotiated with Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jonathon Junig.

In November, Mahmoud Musa received seven years in prison for his role in the attack. In December, Mohammed Othman was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in state prison and five additional years of post-release supervision.

As seen in footage of the incident, Othman kicked and repeatedly struck Borgen in the face while sitting on his chest to weigh him down. In court, he pleaded guilty to gang assault and third-degree hate crime assault.

“These defendants violently targeted and assaulted another individual simply because he is Jewish,” District Attorney Bragg said in a statement. “While this office always supports the right to peacefully protest and engage in open dialogue, these multi-year prison sentences makes clear that physically attacking someone because of their religion is never acceptable. I thank our hate crimes unit for its diligent work in this case.”

Throughout the criminal proceedings in his case, Joey Borgen called on New York City lawmakers to do more to eradicate antisemitic hatred in the five boroughs.

In December, he told The Algemeiner that while he is pleased with the outcome of the case he is worried that the group with which his attackers were allegedly affiliated, the extreme anti-Zionist organization Within Our Lifetime (WOL), is still engaging in antisemitic activity that could lead to more hate crimes.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, WOL has posted (and deleted) a map, titled “Know Your Enemies,” showing the addresses of Jewish organizations in New York City, and staged numerous disruptive protests. The group is led by Nerdeen Kiswani, a former City University of New York (CUNY) student who once threatened to set on fire someone’s Israel Defense Forces (IDF) hoodie while he was wearing it.

“They’re still causing havoc; they’re forcing Jewish attendees of a fundraiser to speak at the backdoor of a police van, and they’re bombarding the mother of a hostage with horrible antisemitic chants,” Borgen said. “While I’m happy that I got a positive result in my case, I’m still disturbed that this same group is still going around causing issues for Jewish people, attacking restaurants, and putting people in danger.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui

A special live taping of our podcast ‘Not That Kind of Rabbi’.

The post See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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