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South Africa’s Future Depends on Confronting Domestic Crises, Not Scapegoating Israel

Director-General of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa Zane Dangor and South African Ambassador to the Netherlands Vusimuzi Madonsela talk at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), at the start of a hearing where South Africa requests new emergency measures over Israel’s operations in Rafah, in The Hague, Netherlands, May 16, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman

When South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in effect called for the annihilation of Israel at the African National Congress (ANC)’s closing election rally — by leading a chant of “From the River to the Sea” — it marked a new low in South Africa’s democratic history.

However, this blatant attempt to scapegoat Israel and deflect from the ANC’s catastrophic failures at home, didn’t improve its poor performance in the May 29 elections.

South Africa is besieged by domestic crises — joblessness, collapsing infrastructure, and a murder rate of 81 people per day. Yet, rather than focus on addressing these urgent issues, one of the ANC’s key election tactics was to demonize Israel for defending itself against the terrorist group Hamas. Ramaphosa naively believed this would win votes, declaring “historically, people have been appreciative of the stance taken by the ANC.”

But South Africans weren’t fooled. They voted based on the dire situation at home, not a faraway conflict they know little about. The ANC suffered its worst result ever in the country’s history. Meanwhile, the Patriotic Alliance (PA) party, whose leader Gayton McKenzie bluntly told a rally “Do not tell me about Palestine here … This is not Palestine,” won an impressive 7% in the Western Cape province, almost equal to the 9 percentage points the ANC lost there.

Some analysts wrongly predicted the PA’s pro-Israel stance would doom them. Instead, the PA’s success showed that the ANC is out of touch.

The ANC’s malicious campaign against Israel reached new depths when it took the Jewish State to the International Court of Justice, falsely accusing it of genocide. This egregious charge not only does a grave historical injustice to the actual meaning of genocide — and the millions of victims who suffered under it — but also exposes the ANC’s moral decay.

By exploiting the term “genocide,” the ANC cheapens the memory of the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and other true genocides.

This is nothing more than a despicable attempt to delegitimize Israel by associating it with the most heinous crime imaginable. Such an accusation coming from the ANC, a party once led by moral giants like Nelson Mandela who understood Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, is a disturbing sign of how far it has fallen.

In contrast, McKenzie and other politicians openly stood with Israel on the campaign trail, knowing that millions of South Africans, especially in the largest churches, maintain strong spiritual bonds with the Holy Land.

The Shembe Church, with millions of followers, recently sent leaders to Israel who denounced their own government’s bias, stating, “There is no apartheid in Israel.”

One of the church’s leaders, Inkosi Phakama Shembe, called out the government’s silence on Hamas’ October 7th atrocity, and criticized South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice. He noted the ANC’s position is in direct contrast to that of millions of Shembe Church members.

The Democratic Alliance also safely held its majority in the Western Cape, despite warnings that its neutral Israeli-Palestinian stance would cost it votes. This affirms that most South Africans believe in Israel’s right to exist in peace, even if their government shamefully sides with those seeking its annihilation.

As South Africa enters uncharted political territory, its leaders must heed the true will of the people. Scapegoating Israel while the nation crumbles will only hasten its demise. South Africa’s survival depends on courageously confronting its domestic ills while building bridges in a world that increasingly accepts Israel’s permanence and promise.

The ANC’s resort to charges of genocide against Israel only underscores how far it has strayed from its guiding principles and the moral vision of its former leaders. As it faces an uncertain future, the party must reckon with its own ethical decay if it hopes to regain the trust of South Africans and play a constructive role in the nation’s renewal.

Rowan Polovin is the chairman of the South African Zionist Federation.

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Will Hostage-Taking Journalist Abdallah Aljamal Be Added to CPJ ‘Casualty’ List?

The Al Jazeera Media Network logo is seen on its headquarters building in Doha, Qatar, June 8, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

One day after Israeli security forces rescued four Israeli hostages from their Gazan captivity, both the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security agency) confirmed that three of the hostages had been held captive in the family home of Abdallah Aljamal.

Aljamal, who was killed during the raid that freed the hostages, had previously served as a spokesman for the Hamas-run Gaza Labor Ministry and, as a journalist, had contributed to Al Jazeera, and served as a correspondent for The Palestine Chronicle.

His last article was published by the Chronicle one day before the Israeli rescue operation.

Abdullah Al-Jamal was not a “freelance contributor” for the Palestine Chronicle. As the outlet itself has repeatedly stated, he was in fact its “correspondent in Gaza.”

They clearly changed the bio to try and avoid legal repercussions

— Eitan Fischberger (@EFischberger) June 10, 2024

With Abdallah Aljamal’s death as part of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, it begs the question whether he will be added to the running list of “journalist casualties in the Israel-Gaza war” compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Since the start of the war, the CPJ’s list of journalist casualties has been used by a variety of news outlets, activists, pundits, and politicians to highlight the seemingly disproportionate number of Gaza-based journalists killed during Israel’s counter-terrorism campaign, and to question whether Israel is purposefully targeting reporters and other media workers.

However, as noted earlier by HonestReporting, a significant number of the journalists who appear on the CPJ’s list were in some way affiliated with Hamas and other anti-Israel terror organizations.

As of this writing (June 10, 2024), close to 50% of the 103 Palestinian journalists listed by the CPJ either worked for news outlets affiliated with terror organizations, or were active members in these organizations themselves.

While he was working as a so-called “journalist,” Abdallah Aljamal also held hostages captive for Hamas.

Shockingly, his death qualifies him for the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (@pressfreedom) list of media workers killed in the conflict.

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) June 9, 2024

If Abdallah Aljamal is added to the CPJ’s list, this will only highlight the problematic nature of the list by including terrorists and kidnappers among the ranks of killed Palestinian media workers, and will serve to further debunk the libel that Israel is targeting journalists in order to stifle their reporting capabilities.

If Aljamal is not included on the CPJ’s list of killed Gaza-based journalists, it will ultimately need to be asked what separates him from the likes of Hamza Al Dahdouh, Mustafa Thuraya, and Mohammad Jarghoun — all three of whom are accused of being active members of terrorist organizations and who appear on the list.

In either case, the mere possibility that Abdallah Aljamal, a Hamas member who helped hold three Israeli civilians hostage, will be added to the CPJ’s list of killed journalists is a cold reminder of the interaction between terrorism and civilian life in Gaza, the influence that Hamas has over the media in Gaza, and the untrustworthiness of outlets that turn a blind eye to these salient factors.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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Missile Barrage Hits Northern Israel, Emergency Services Report

Firefighters respond to a fire near a rocket attack from Lebanon, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, near Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, June 14, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Israeli emergency services reported dealing with a string of fires in northern Israel on Friday after dozens of missiles were fired from southern Lebanon into the area around the border town of Kiryat Shemona.

The military said that warning sirens had sounded in northern Israel and emergency services said teams were searching the area, where they reported there was property damage but no casualties.

Television footage on Friday showed damaged buildings and cars as well as brush fires in several locations caused by strikes or falling debris amid heatwave conditions.

The Israeli military has exchanged regular fire with Hezbollah forces across the border in southern Lebanon ever since the start of the war in Gaza in October.

Neither side has appeared to wish a wider conflict, but there has been growing worry that the steady intensification of strikes could push the situation out of control with the risk of a wider conflict in a region that has already seen direct exchanges between Israel and Iran.

The latest salvo came after an Israeli strike killed a senior commander from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, drawing the heaviest bombardment of northern Israel since the start of the war in October last year.

Tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated from their homes on both sides of the border, creating growing pressure to resolve the stand-off, but diplomatic efforts have so far proved fruitless.

On Friday, the Israeli military said fighter jets and anti-aircraft systems had intercepted 11 of the 16 drones launched by Hezbollah against Israel in the past 72 hours.

“The Israeli Air Force is continuing to operate at all times to thwart terrorist activities and protect Israel‘s skies from any threat,” it said in a statement.

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G7 Warns Iran Over Continuing Nuclear Program Escalation

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and European Council President Charles Michel pose for a family photo as they arrive to attend a dinner at Swabian Castle in Brindisi, Italy, June 13, 2024. Photo: Italian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

The Group of Seven leaders warned Iran on Friday against advancing its nuclear enrichment program and said they would be ready to enforce new measures if Tehran were to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia, according to a draft communique.

“We urge Tehran to cease and reverse nuclear escalations, and stop the continuing uranium enrichment activities that have no credible civilian justifications,” the statement seen by Reuters said.

Iran has rapidly installed extra uranium-enriching centrifuges at its Fordow site and begun setting up others, a UN nuclear watchdog report said on Thursday.

Iran is now enriching uranium to up to 60 percent purity, close to the 90 percent of weapons grade, and has enough material enriched to that level, if enriched further, for three nuclear weapons, according to an IAEA yardstick.

Iran must engage in serious dialogue and provide convincing assurances that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, in full cooperation and compliance with the IAEA’s monitoring and verification mechanism, including the Board of Governors’ resolution of 5 June,” the G7 said.

Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

The leaders also warned Iran about concluding a deal to send ballistic missiles to Russia that would help it in its war against Ukraine, saying they were prepared to respond with significant measures if it were to happen.

“We call on Iran to stop assisting Russia’s war in Ukraine and not to transfer ballistic missiles and related technology, as this would represent a substantive material escalation and a direct threat to European security,” they said.

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