WATCH | ‘No threat to Jewish people in SA’: Lamola denounces anti-Semitism claims

31 January 2024 - 15:27
By Sinesipho Schrieber

“In South Africa there is no threat or harm whatsoever to Jewish people.” 

These were the words of justice minister Ronald Lamola as he denounced claims of anti-Semitism incidents against Jewish people in South Africa after the government opened a case of genocide against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 

On Friday, the court made six orders against Israel in South Africa’s application accusing the Jewish state of violating the Genocide Convention. South Africa said thousands of civilians had died because of military operations in Gaza since Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7.

Lamola, in an interview on BBC, was questioned about claims of a rise in anti-Semitism incidents made in an article published by South African Jewish Report written by Howard Sackstein.

“For Jews, this country no longer feels like a safe space or 'home'. The government has been captured by radical Islamists and their sympathisers,” Sackstein wrote. 

Lamola said there was no evidence to substantiate allegations of anti-Semitism.

“It’s a very unfortunate statement not backed by any facts, just a figment of his own imagination. As you have seen in the court papers, our case is not against the Jewish people. It is against the Zionist state of Israel, against military operations that they are maiming and killing the Palestinian group in Gaza,” Lamola said.

“In South Africa, there is no threat and harm whatsoever to Jewish people. They continue to participate in all forms of social life. As you speak to me now, nothing has happened to him, or any Jewish community, based on their creed, sex or religion.”

South Africa's aim in the case was to fight for a ceasefire in Gaza, Lamola said, as civilian fatalities continue to rise, claiming more than 25,000 lives. 

“There is no such [rise in anti-Semitism complaints]. As I am speaking to you today, the president in his weekly newsletter stated very clearly our action is not anti-Semitism. There is no anti-Semitism against Jewish people in South Africa.” 

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