Anti-Semitism & its political adherents in Parliament

​THERE is officially ‘no antisemitism’ in South Africa. No sooner had Justice Minister Ronald Lamola kicked up a storm after making bizarre statements on a BBC hardtalk interview, the country was being entertained by two incidents from inside the country’s various legislatures.

A tie-episode involving the wearing of a ‘Star of David’ by a member of the Johannesburg City Council was soon followed by threats inside the National House of Assembly: “We won’t allow you make this a Jewish state. The City of Cape Town would be a bloodbath,” ranted Member of Parliament Munzoor Shaik Emam, who proceeded to threaten Jews living in South Africa.

It was Sartre who once remarked: “If the Jew did not exist, the Anti-Semite would invent him”. ” In his seminal Anti-Semite & Jew, written after the author had noticed the absence of the Jews living in Paris before the war, deported to the Nazi death camps, he wrote: “The anti-Semite convinces himself of beliefs that he knows to be spurious at best.”

The latest debacle is redolent of ANC MP Marius Fransman’s invention of ‘Jewish property tycoons in Woodstock”, and other statements for which he was ordered to apologise. A suburb that had once seen an influx of Jews from the Shtetls of Czarist Russia, but which like District Six has lost its Jewish population, a factor of immigration and structural discrimination.

Lamola’s claim: “There is no antisemitism in South Africa against the Jewish People“ is not only a blatant lie, similarly debunked, with a demonstrable increase of 631% over the past three months, but it reminds one of equally perverse statements made by the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who once proclaimed: “In Iran, we do not have homosexuals. Or apartheid’s own PW Botha who explained to the world’s press:”Most Blacks are happy” and “we treat our Blacks well.”

Sartre explained the tendency towards the objectification of Jews, who before the creation of the state of Israel, had become the ‘objects of history’ instead of the ‘subjects of humans rights’.

“A Jew is a person that others look at and say, “look, he/she is a Jew”. Just as a chair is a chair by virtue of our considering it a chair, so is a Jew a person whom others consider to be a Jew. Therefore, a Jew’s Jewishness exists only to the extent they are considered Jewish by those around them.

A 2010 hearing presided over by ANC apparatchik Halton Cheadle involving his own client, found inter alia, I was not Jewish enough to possess rights commonly afforded other Jews, and therefore could not claim anti-Semitism on the basis of an outrageous inquiry into my identity by an apartheid media firm — an entity that pathetically denied their role in the regime, and proceeded to pillory the findings of the TRC during the kangaroo ‘trial’.

So yes Minister Lamola, there is ‘Anti-Semitism’ or Jew-hatred in my country — a disgraceful, ugly history harking all the way back to the dark days of the National Party, whose swastikas adorned membership cards, whose laws actively discriminated on the basis of religion and cultural identity.

DEBUNKED: Palestinians and Jews, each form a distinct race & the conflict is thus like apartheid

IT WAS South Africa’s Hendrick Verwoerd who first resorted to the apartheid analogy in 1961 when he dismissed an Israeli vote against South African apartheid at the United Nations, throwing blame and deflecting attention by saying, “Israel is not consistent in its new anti-apartheid attitude … they took Israel away from the Arabs after the Arabs lived there for a thousand years. In that, I agree with them. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state. (1)

The primary objection to the apartheid analogy which may be raised is that Nations are not races. The result is what philosopher Gilbert Ryle referred to as a ‘category error’. A semantic or ontological error in which ‘things belonging to a particular category are presented as if they belong to a different category’. While ethnicity plays a part, there is no scientific nor any legal basis for making such a claim.(2) (3).

Attributing race to Jews in order to make a false comparison with apartheid is racism and anti-Semitism, and meets definitions of anti-Semitism proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

A 2020 academic paper on the question Is Replacement Theology Anti-Semitic? begins by defining anti-Semitism as “normally understood as prejudice or hatred against Jewish people as a race” before concluding that since Christianity doesn’t perceive the Jews as a race, Christian theology cannot, by definition be anti-Semitic.

Advocates of the analogy often refer to the infamous 1975 UN resolution 3379 ‘equating Zionism with racism‘ which was overturned by an overwhelming majority of nations in 1991. The same assertion was voted out of the final text of the controversial 2001 Durban Conference on Racism  and the text reaffirmed at Durban II

A highly flawed 2017 UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report examining the policies of Israel within the context of a UN definition of apartheid, admits the error of race, proceeds to supply “reasons for the error of comparison” and states, there is ‘no single, authoritative, global definition of any race’ at the same time that it attributes race characteristics to Jews for the purposes of analysis.

The ESCWA report was withdrawn by UN Secretary-general Guterres in 2017, while the Goldstone report was similarly retracted in part. The same category error appears in an equally flawed 2009 local HSRC report written around the time of Durban II. 

While the policies of Israel may, for many of its critics, be reprehensible and morally indefensible, the root cause is not race, (a loaded term) but rather the confluence of religion and nationality and in particular, religious schism which results in nationality on the basis of religion, a fact common to many Middle Eastern countries.