Rowan Polovin
National Chairman, South African Zionist Federation

South Africa’s ICJ Referral on Israel: Deflecting Domestic Disarray

International Court of Justice at The Hague (credit: Jeroen Bouman)

It is a grave misstep that the South African Government, amidst a myriad of pressing domestic and international issues, has singularly chosen to target Israel by referring it to the International Court of Justice in the Hague. This is a move to spend the last remaining capital of South Africa’s international reputation on behalf of anti-Israel authoritarian regimes, and is designed to distract attention from the government’s own domestic disarray.  Ultimately it does nothing on behalf of peace and justice, but only serves to squander South Africa’s dwindling international standing.

The ANC Government’s failure to foster growth and protect its citizens from serious human rights abuses is unacceptable. South Africans suffer daily under the weight of extreme violence, including a daily average of 75 murders and 120 rapes, coupled with rampant violent crimes and xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals. The LGBTI community also continues to face relentless discrimination and violence. These national crime statistics have repeatedly increased, year on year, based on the latest National Crime Statistics Reports.

Compounded by a crippling 16-year-long electricity crisis and the stark reality of the highest unemployment rate in the world as noted by the IMF and World Bank, South Africa’s situation is dire. Essential services are in dishevelment, corruption is rampant, and nearly half of the country’s drinking water is deemed unsafe, as per the 2023 Blue Drop Report. In the face of these calamities, and with elections looming, the South African government’s focus on Israel is both misplaced and negligent.

Labeling Israel’s actions as ‘genocide’ is not only false but Orwellian, contradicting the very definition of genocide as outlined in the Genocide Convention. The sole perpetrator of genocidal acts in this conflict is Hamas, whose charter and actions, including the horrific events of 7 October, clearly demonstrate its genocidal intent and abilities against Israel and the Jewish People.

In contrast, Israel’s military response is an act of self-defence, conducted within international legal boundaries, aimed at neutralising Hamas’ genocidal actions while minimising civilian casualties. South Africa’s failure to hold Hamas accountable for its well-documented crimes against humanity, including hostage-taking, rape, murder, indiscriminate rocket fire, and the use of human shields, is a glaring but seemingly deliberate oversight.

The ANC Government’s actions not only undermine South Africa’s economic and political interests, risking crucial economic assistance under the United States’ African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), but also misrepresents the views of the majority of South Africans who desire a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

About the Author
Rowan Polovin is the National Chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, and the 2016 recipient of the World Zionist Organization’s Herzl Award.
Related Topics
Related Posts