Statements by the African National Congress and the South African government, both of which ‘were quick to side with Hamas’ after dozens of Hamas gunmen invaded Israel and ‘committed appalling atrocities’, contained ‘not a whisper of condemnation … and instead blamed the victim’, says the Institute of Race Relations (IRR).
Neither the government nor the ruling party is ‘acting in South Africa’s best interest by siding with Hamas’, the IRR says ina statement.
The IRR notes: ‘President Ramaphosa’s statement on 12 October failed to name the party responsible and was not anywhere near an adequate admission that the fanatical organisation the ANC has backed was guilty of savage acts of barbarity.’
The IRR’s statement says: ‘The shameful silence on the atrocities committed by Hamas – with Jewish babies, children, women, the elderly and the disabled being indiscriminately shot, assaulted, abducted, burnt, beheaded and murdered, and their bodies desecrated – is tantamount to an endorsement of this barbaric atrocity, which has, perhaps not unreasonably, been described as a pogrom.
‘By effectively supporting Hamas, the ANC and the government have affirmed their long-standing backing for a fanatical organisation that does not hesitate to sacrifice Palestinian and Israeli lives in pursuit of its genocidal goal of wiping out Israel and its Jewish people.
‘As a result of its actions, Hamas now faces a wounded and wrathful Israel that will go to great lengths to reduce its vulnerability and re-establish its security. All Israel’s efforts will now be dedicated to the erasure of Hamas. Violence will escalate dramatically and may spread to neighbouring regions and countries.
‘The intensified conflict will cost thousands of lives and move peace further out of reach. It will drive the further securitisation of Israel and impose even greater suffering on the Palestinian people in Gaza, who are left with even fewer options than the paltry few they had before. For those who have the interests of the Palestinian people at heart, as the ANC and the South African government claim to do, this cannot be an outcome to be welcomed. The legacy Hamas will leave is one of war, poverty, and failure.’
The IRR notes that the ANC ‘exposes itself to a charge of culpability in these outcomes, as do many Hamas-sympathising civil society organisations and journalists in South Africa’.
‘By providing justification for Hamas’s actions and openly supporting the organisation – or by failing to acknowledge its nature – they helped provide a cover of legitimacy under which Hamas could operate. Some of Hamas’ domestic sympathisers are likely also to have contributed funding.
‘The implications of the ANC’s support for Hamas extend beyond the Middle East. By embracing Hamas, the ANC has aligned itself ideologically with similar Islamist terror movements across Africa which are inspired by the same worldview as Hamas. These movements are responsible for numerous atrocities in Africa, ranging from the burning of African churches to the murder of many African Christians.
‘The same ideology used to justify killing Jews is used to justify killing African Christians. It is a mistake to think that these things are unrelated. They form part of the same pattern, and this means that the ANC’s official position is to side with the people who murder not only Jews, but also Africa’s Christians.’
The IRR adds: ‘The decision to back Hamas is also likely to harm South Africa’s direct interests. For example, having just expended great diplomatic effort to repair its diplomatic relationship with the United States, the South African government’s effective siding with Hamas threatens to break it all down again. South Africans must now expect the U.S. to exercise closer scrutiny of South Africa’s trade ties and financial flows and anticipate the risk, which had seemingly just been averted, of AGOA being cancelled.
‘In March 2023, South Africa was greylisted by the Financial Action Task Force, meaning that the country’s financial and regulatory system was displaying serious deficiencies in countering money laundering and the financing of terrorism. These deficiencies will come under even closer scrutiny following the Hamas attack.
‘Any person or group that has played a role in hosting, funding, endorsing or advocating for Hamas – designated as a ‘foreign terrorist organisation’ by the U.S. Department of State in 1997 – stands to be investigated at a global level regarding its terrorism ties. In South Africa, this could include financial institutions that facilitated payments to Hamas, religious and public organisations, and political parties.’
The IRR urges that, in order to ‘protect South Africa’s national interest’, the government ‘should establish full diplomatic relationships with Israel as a leading democracy’.
‘It should recall its ambassador to Iran and denounce the Iranian regime for its active backing of Hamas. And the ANC should urgently denounce Hamas and cut all ties with the organisation. Sympathies with the Palestinian cause notwithstanding, Hamas has proven itself an unworthy associate if South Africa is indeed committed to a world founded on rules and respecting human rights.’
In the absence of these steps, the South African government ‘must expect the civilised world to take what actions it deems necessary. Such actions are unlikely to be in the best interest of South Africa’s people.’
The IRR says it will write to President Ramaphosa, requesting him to explain:
- What impact the South African government’s support for Hamas will have on South Africa’s greylisting and trade relationships
- What tangible benefits, if any, South Africa derives from associating with Hamas
- What tangible benefits Hamas has delivered for the Palestinians in Gaza\
- Whether the government would be willing to defend South Africans against radical Islamic terrorism.