Judith Brown
Young enough not to quit and old enough to know better.

Dangerous anti-Israel vitriol rising in South Africa

Since the 10/7 attack on Israel and the murders of Israelis, the global anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric has reached epic proportions, leaving Jews in the diaspora shaken, stirred, and frightened. In October, soon after the attacks, the leader of the South African Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party Julius Malema, raised the ante on anti-Israel hatred that led to large protests by Hamas supporters and 10/7 deniers.

The call for boycotts was echoed by the ANC and both factions turned up the volume on the “genocide” narrative toward Gazans while subtlety erasing the atrocities of 10/7. Long time radicals came out of the woodwork to join in the highly charged vitriol against Israel. Supporting this anti-Israel political festival is the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) which competes with the BBC for systematic biased anti-Israel “reporting”.

SABC charismatic pseudo reporter Khayelihle Khumalo rivals CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in intentionally distorting facts to justify the ani-Israel yellow journalism both aspire to. During the anti-Israel pro Hamas demonstrations in October, Khayelihle Khumalo not only cherished the moment, but allowed the obscene denial of 10/7 atrocities, the blatant anti-Jewish tropes, and the falsehoods on the strikes in Gaza, especially the false narrative that Israel had hit the Al Ahi hospital and killed hundreds of people. This visceral went unheeded even after it was proven by various entities and intercepted Hamas chatter, that in fact it was not an Israeli strike that hit the hospital, which by the way is still standing, but a misdirected Hamas rocket that went astray. But SABC and Mr. Khumalo are not much for facts. In the face of these anti-Israel and antisemitic remarks that included comparing Holocaust survivors to monkeys, SABC remained stoic in their “reporting”.

People like Carl Niehaus, former ANC spokesman who in 2022 was expelled from the ANC for fraud, took a page out of the Mien Kamph playbook and admitted that a two-state solution is not acceptable. The attacks on 10/7 were an armed resistance by Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel’s occupation “from the river to the sea”. So said he. Khayelihle Khumalo didn’t bat an eyelid but fawned and duly recognized Niehaus for “his work” during apartheid.

To put in perspective the Jewish community in South Africa, one must understand that the region has the 12th largest Jewish community in the world. The last census numbered at 50-55 thousand jews. These communities flourish and contribute to the economy and wellbeing of South Africa. Maybe the SABC should have been around in August of this year when the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the University of Johannesburg co-donated a new learning resource center to the Hanyani School in the northeastern part of Uhemba in the district of Limpopo. The irony was not lost that Julius Malema was born in Limpopo. The new learning resource center was given WIFI, computers, resource books, and other materials they so sorely needed. But this was before 10/7 and Malema’s vicious antisemitism had not surfaced to its full capacity yet.

Describing the situation in South Africa as dire is an understatement. Led by Malema and the EFF, on Tuesday 21 November 2023, the South African parliament will vote on a motion brought by Malema to sever all ties with Israel and close the Israeli embassy. This motion is being supported by the ANC and Cecil Ramaphosa, the current South African president, citing the false narrative of “genocide” against Gaza. Ramaphosa has also referred Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a laughable step considering South Africa’s history with the ICC.

In August this year the ICC asked South Africa to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin who was to attend the BRICS summit in Johannesburg. Amid the contradictory statements by various factions, nothing was done. A few even asked for the withdrawal of South Africa from the ICC. More blatant South African double standard self-righteous moral fiber happened in 2015, when the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir. Al Bashir was still allowed to attend the African Union summit in Johannesburg. When insipid characters like ANC national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu insist on “…Israel must comply with international law…”, one wonders what version of international law South Africa is referring to. Encouraged and supported by SABC, people like Mamela, Bhengu, and Ramaphosa are emboldened in their mission to destroy Israel.

To extrapolate more on the “international law” verbiage, and to bring serious adult conversation to the table, we define a “just war” or “Bellum Justum” within a framework of criteria that has been adopted throughout the millennia and dates to Roman times.

The morally justifiable war criteria are founded in historical religious and secular moral concepts. The four oldest and most important conditions to a morally justifiable war are recognized as:

  1. War must be declared openly by the sovereign authority
  2. There must be a just cause in defense of common good or in response to a grave injustice
  3. The warring state has “just” intentions and not self interest
  4. The aim of the war is the establishment of “just” peace

Taking these four criteria, Israel checks all the blocks. Israel openly declared its intentions of removing Hamas to the global community and fore warned the people in Gaza to evacuate. Israel did not start the airstrikes without good reason. It was morally and ethically bound to respond to the unprovoked massacre of its civilians, the invasion of its borders, and the hostage taking of a segment of its population. Israel never hesitated in giving its intentions which were to remove Hamas not only to protect Israel but also Gaza. Israel informed the world community of its aim: to rid the region of terrorism, save the hostages, and save Gazans from the terror of Hamas.

WWII expanded the “Bellum Justum” by three other criteria:

  1. A reasonable chance of success
  2. Using force as a last resort
  3. Expected benefits of war must outweigh the anticipated costs

Israel’s resilience does not only have a “reasonable” chance of success but cannot afford not to. Israel has been enduring rocket and terrorist attacks and several intifadas for decades. The 10/7 massacre forced Israel to go to war as a last resort to finally save itself and the region from the savagery of Hamas. The expected benefits are peace not only for Israel, but for the entire Middle East.

There is absolutely zero foundation to the accusations of international war crimes because Israel checks all the boxes for “Bellum Justum”. Unfortunately, this blood libel is not uncommon when it comes to Jews. It is reminiscent of the past thousand years. Justifiable jew hatred for anything from the killing of Jesus to the world economy.

In the meantime, the drum continues to beat to the severing ties with Israel tune. However, Corne Mulder of the Freedom Front Plus (FP+) party came out with a warning against such a move. If South Africa severs ties with Israel, it will lose a significant and constructive role in possibly bringing the conflict to an end. Benji Shulman, Director of Public Policy with South Africa Zionist Federation (SAZF) also warned that South Africa should be concerned about the hostages and try to “facilitate” their release rather than severing ties with Israel.

But not all are on the same sheet of music. Woolworth has succumbed to threats by the likes of Africa4Palestine, an anti-Israel organization pretending to be a human rights NGO. It formerly was BDS South Africa. BDS which stands for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions is active on college campuses in the US and its antisemite rhetoric is hidden by its insidious claim that it is pro-Palestinian. BDS only aim is to hit Israel economically to destroy it. However, not all play their game. BDS is banned in Germany as an anti-Semite organization.

Africa4Palestine claim that their success as BDS South Africa compelled them to re-brand into Africa4Palestine. Their homepage is typical of the now too familiar Palestinian “indigenous” right to Israel tripe. They try to substantiate their vitriol by saying that they are against modern Israel because it is “…different to the Biblical land”. How convenient. Like their buddies in the BDS, they hide behind their human rights mask to threaten and intimidate businesses and corporations.

According to Woolworth representatives, Woolworth does not “support nor boycott” and has taken no position on the Israel-Hamas war, however, it did remove an Israeli item from its shelves. Woolworth admitted that it had received “significant and credible threats” and was concerned about its employees and customers. They removed the article to appease Africa4Palestine call for a boycott. Soon after, Woolworth put on its tight self-righteous non-partisan hat and explained that not stocking certain products aligns the company to the “principles of ethical consumerism”. Go figure. Who would have taught that succumbing to threats by the worst antisemite organization in the world constitutes “ethical consumerism”. I wonder how many Chinese products Woolworth removes off its shelves. Does it not find the forced detention of an approximate million Uyghers in China against “principles of ethical consumerism”? (An addendum: it was confirmed today that Woolworth is refusing service to Jews in South Africa.)

The UN, EU and pseudo “human rights” groups like BDS which do not seem to have a problem with countries like China, have become a sad irrelevancy that gives political parties like the EFF and ANC a vitriol platform against Israel and inadvertently, Jews.

While the spotlight was on US campuses and protests in European countries, South Africa was quietly raising its antisemite head on the back burner of world politics. Gently simmering in dangerous anti-Israel rhetoric and threats, South Africa is now the epicenter of Mein-Kamph like narrative that gives no indication of subsiding but of proliferating to other parts of the African continent.

In the past both Mamela and Ramaphosa made overtures to Hamas with promises of funding and support. This is not a hidden secret. It is common knowledge with little opposition. There was only one pro-Israel rally organized by SAZF at a Jewish school and without any marching. When Christians attempted to hold a pro-Israel rally in Cape Town, they had to cancel due to vicious attacks by pro-Palestinian supporters. On the contrary, Hamas supporters are fearless and free to roam undeterred from any law enforcement or security deterrence while shouting antisemite slogans and waving flags.  A disturbing confirmation that supporting terrorists in South Africa is now not only acceptable but the norm.

The world must realize that the fast escalation from protests against Israel to severing ties with Israel barely took a month. In 1938, the escalation from boycotting Jewish stores, Kristallnacht, and deporting the first 50,000 jews took less than a year. Nobody from the international world community has given much thought to the current volatile political atmosphere in South Africa. The situation is fluid and, as such, dangerous. It is dangerous to the Jews in South Africa, and dangerous to the stabilization of the region. Does the world community want South Africa to morph into the next terrorist state?

Israel is the last bastion of democracy in the Middle East. Its freedoms and way of life are conducive to peace and not war. Surrounded by 17 Arab countries with approximately 411 million Arabs, accusing Israel of genocide falls as flat as a bad joke. Those shouting “genocide” in the streets lack an understanding of the word. If they believe that Israel with a population of seven million is bent on exterminating 411 million Arabs, they have a poor opinion of their “brethren” and are equally poor in math.

The global community’s silence on South Africa is disturbingly loud. If the motion for severing ties with Israel goes through Parliament, the Jews in South Africa are in real danger. If the world community is serious about protecting Jews, it cannot allow antisemitic political parties to dominate the region without a challenge. It also cannot allow South Africa to become a proxy state for terror organizations like Hamas and Isis. Is the global community watching? I hope so.

The late Golda Meir had an uncanny insight into Israel and the Arab world. Her pragmatism kept her focused on the obvious. She did not only fight for Israel’s right to exist, but for the right of every Jew to live in peace. She resented the fact that Israel’s Arab neighbors forced Israel to go to war. How right she was. “The only way to eliminate war is to love our children more than we hate our enemies.” (Golda Meir)

August 10, 2023. Community donates 21st century resources to Limpopo school (

Khumalo, T. August 17, 2023. South Africa’s referral of Israel to ICC divides opinion (

Tshikalange, S. November 17, 2023. ‘We neither support nor boycott’: Woolworths clarifies on Israel-Hamas conflict (

About the Author
Judith was born in Malta but is also a naturalized American. Former military wife (23 years), married, and currently retired from the financial world as Bank Manager. Spent the last 48 years associated or working for the US forces overseas. Judith has a blog on www.judith60dotcom Judith speaks several languages and is currently learning Hebrew.