It does not take much to rile up antisemites. Such is the nature of antisemitism that those who are infected with it need little excuse to fuel their hatred of the Jewish people. We have seen over the course of the last few months that simple lies can send people into hate fuelled rants against Israel. This is why it is so important that we understand that the big lie that South Africa is spreading against Israel is extremely dangerous and is fuelling antisemitism around the world.

Even before Israel retaliated following the 7 October 2023 massacre by Hamas, people were already accusing Israel of preparing to commit “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide”. Even the day after the Hamas atrocities, South African officials were calling for a ceasefire, when Israel had barely lifted a finger in retaliation to Hamas at that time. The narrative of those who hate Israel is always the same, but in this instance, as South Africa’s case against Israel is being heard at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). As a result, the antisemitic blood libels have been given legitimacy and are being broadcast around the world.

South Africa has long had an Israel problem. Thankfully, the country’s Jewish community released a statement holding it to account and accused South Africa of ignoring “concerns over antisemitism with contempt.”

“Global Jewry are united that these charges have at their root an antisemitic worldview, which denies Jews their rights to defend themselves. They won’t silence us by denying our reality,” said SA’s Jewish Board of Deputies Chair Karen Milner.

Milner pointed out the hypocrisy of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who sought to protect others charged or convicted of war crimes at The Hague while attacking Israel.

“Why did President Cyril Ramaphosa not feel ‘duty-bound’ to hand over convicted genocide President of Sudan Omar Al Bashir, when he visited this country? Or see it as a ‘matter of principle’ to hand over Russian President Vladimir Putin to the ICC when he was expected to visit South Africa? Or take a ‘principled stand’ when he met last week, with Mohamed Dagalo of Sudan, the commander of the RSF militia who has just inflicted genocide on the non-Arab communities across Darfur,” Milner writes.

We should point out again that what Israel is doing is not genocide. But even if it was, Milner is quite right. Why is South Africa’s leader applying a double standing when dealing with Israel? The IHRA definition on antisemitism states clearly that singling out Israel and treating it differently to others is antisemitic.

South Africa’s Israel problem also extends to its apparent respect for Hamas. The South African government has refused to label Hamas as a terrorist organisation or call Hamas’s actions on 7 October 2023 terrorism.

Zane Dangor, the head of DIRCO, which is the South African government’s Department for International Relations and Cooperation, said, “The attacks on civilians by Hamas on 7 October 2023 may constitute war crimes and need to be condemned and investigated. These attacks cannot, however, be a blank cheque for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by Israel.”

Dangor claims that Hamas’s well documented massacre of Israelis (which was clearly a war crime, a crime against humanity, and an attempt at genocide) is in doubt, but he is certain that Israel is conducting “genocide”. If Zane Dangor is unsure if Hamas’s very clear war crimes are actually war crimes, then maybe he shouldn’t be so confident about his analysis of Israel’s actions.

There is a clear agenda behind all of this demonisation of Israel. It is evil and it is antisemitic. It doesn’t matter how careful Israel’s actions are to preserve Palestinian life, those who hate Israel will distort reality and falsely accuse Israel of every heinous crime they can conjure.

South Africa is effectively giving Hamas “political and legal cover”, as Eylon Levy, correctly stated. More than this, South Africa is spreading a blood libel against Israel that is fuelling hatred of Israel and the Jewish people around the world.

The reason for this is people are being tricked into believing the lie. There are many uninformed individuals out there who now believe that Israel is committing “genocide” against Palestinians even though it is not. Accusations like this stick in people’s memories, many will now associate Israel’s actions with genocide even though it is a lie.

The truth is that Israel is the nation that is under threat from genocidal entities, such as Hamas and the Iranian regime, who seek the annihilation of Israel and the Jewish people. Hamas tried to carry out that genocide on 7 October 2023. They failed because even though they had the intent, they lacked the capabilities.

Israel’s Prime Minister is not taking these false accusations lightly. “We are fighting terrorists, we are fighting lies,” Netanyahu said. “Today we saw an upside-down world. Israel is accused of genocide while it is fighting against genocide.”

“Israel is fighting murderous terrorists who carried out crimes against humanity: They slaughtered, they raped, they burned, they dismembered, they beheaded – children, women, elderly, young men and women,” he said.

“The hypocrisy of South Africa screams to the heavens,” Netanyahu said. “Where was South Africa when millions of people were killed or torn from their homes in Syria and Yemen, by whom? By partners of Hamas.”

We agree. If the people who are falsely accusing Israel truly cared about the Palestinians, they would be condemning Hamas, calling for the terrorists to put down their weapons, and advocating for the safe return of Israeli hostages being held in Gaza. But they don’t care about the Palestinians. They only care about the destruction of Israel. They are willing to lie and slander Israel even if it fuels antisemitism worldwide.