It should come as no surprise even to those unfamiliar with South African history, that Jews were inextricably committed to freeing the country from the clutches of white rule under the appalling apartheid regime. Their commitment was consistent with both Jewish values and collective conscientiousness, as well as the all too fresh wounds of Holocaust survivor immigrants to South Africa.
In his book Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela wrote that he “found Jews to be more broad-minded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice.”
Then how did this particular group of people who were among the most ardent supporters of overthrowing apartheid and living freely in a new South Africa become the targets of the very discrimination, racism, and hatred that they fought to eradicate?
Times of Israel reports that Jewish community heads in SA constantly battle a sharp spike in anti-semitic slurs and threats, including promises that their “time is coming,” and that the “Holocaust will be a picnic by comparison.” Many believe that the increase in anti-semitic sentiment is nothing more than anti-Zionist rhetoric. While South African Jews cannot be held accountable for the policies of the Israeli government, vehement pro-BDS and anti-Zionist groups are not merely a reaction to Israeli government policies: they are glaring manifestations of a virulent strain of anti-semitism that has taken root in South Africa.
Anti-semitism and Anti-Zionism are not mutually exclusive concepts; they are intertwined and co-dependent. Anti-Zionism has become a more politically acceptable term, which allows anti-semites to hurl racist and degrading slurs at Jews. It is possible to criticize Israeli government policies without being an anti-semite, but not while invoking pro-Holocaust speech, and the all too familiar and dangerous “Jews are controlling our economy” hyperbole.
The ANC has institutionalized anti-semitism and propagates a sick fetish with Jews and Israel. One would almost be able to tolerate the ANC’s fervent obsession with Israeli government policies, but when extremist hate speech is directed squarely on the country’s Jewish citizens who have nothing to do with Israeli policies, it becomes clear that the ANC is simply and blatantly anti-semitic.
If the ANC is such a human rights focused authority of humanitarian causes, where is its outrage against the scores of issues in a myriad of countries around the world? They need not go much further than the borders of their own continent should they wish to support human rights causes and work towards eradicating female mutilation, indiscriminate killing of women and children, kidnapping and forced incarcerations and torture of children, sex trafficking and scores of other atrocities.
The ANC has a legitimate right to champion civil liberties and humanitarian causes around the world, considering their history and struggles. But they obsessively and sickly focus solely on one group, without genuinely committing themselves to recognizing both sides of the conflict, as Nelson Mandela did. While Mandela was critical of the Occupation and certain policies, he explicitly supported Israel’s right to exist. And above all, he valued peace and diplomacy, something that the current South African culture and climate lack. Holding South African Jews accountable for Israeli government policies is akin to targeting Syrian Americans for Assad’s policies in Syria. Clearly, this is an egregious and ridiculous stance, and the ANC targets South African Jews for no other reason than blatant anti-semitism.
The ANC and its proponents are quick to cite the Holocaust and the indelible mark that it continues to leave on Jews and non-Jews around the world. Perhaps some institutional memory and soul searching are in order in this government whose speech and actions are reminiscent of pre-world war II discourse. If the ANC is genuinely interested in furthering peaceful solutions, it should cease to fuel the flames by scapegoating its Jewish citizens.