Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

30 Nissan 5764 - April 21, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Threats to South African Jews Following Yassin Killing
by D. Saks

The targeted killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, founder and leader of Hamas, has generated widespread fury in South Africa and in particular in its 800,000- strong Muslim community. While no actual attacks against Jews were recorded (so far) beyond a few isolated instances of verbal harassment, the level of anti- Jewish invective, sometimes combined with threats, has been raised to unprecedented heights. A particularly worrying issue has been mounting evidence that information-gathering by suspected Muslims is being carried out outside important Jewish institutions, including taking photographs.

There is strong support for Hamas amongst South African Muslims. A major controversy erupted over an anti-Israel march outside the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria, which featured a six-year-old Muslim boy dressed up as a suicide bomber.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies issued a press statement condemning the march, saying that it had "crossed the line between legitimate protest and criminal incitement" and that the use of a child to promote suicide terrorism constituted both child abuse and "an overt promotion of the kind of murderous terrorist activity that has brought sorrow and destruction to countless people all around the world." The Board called on the South African government to publicly distance itself from the events of the march and the sentiments expressed.

The Department of Foreign Affairs subsequently sent a letter to the organizers of the march, saying that it was "deeply concerned" about what had taken place. "Can we really get satisfaction by subjecting young children to such symbols of violence? Do we not run the danger of encouraging suicide bombings in South Africa?" the letter read in part.

Anti-Israel sentiment is particularly rife in Cape Town, which has the highest concentration of Muslims and in addition has a history of Muslim extremist activity, including terrorist attacks on Jewish and American institutions.

At a protest rally held in the city on the day of the Yassin killing, prominent clerics made numerous vituperative antisemitic statements, including calling Jews "a filthy people" and the enemies of humanity who were corrupting Muslim minds through their control of the world media. The statements were made in the presence of Ebrahim Rasool, leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the Western Cape, who failed to speak out against them even after being called upon by the opposition Democratic Alliance to do so.

It was reported on a popular Cape Town radio show that a pamphlet was being circulated in the city warning that if the Jews did not condemn the killing of Yassin, then whenever Sharon did something wrong, Muslims the world over, including in Cape Town, were going to attack the Jewish people.

Further support was lent to the perception that the local Jewish community was in some way answerable for the actions of the Israeli government by editorial in two leading weekly papers, the Mail & Guardian and the Sunday Times. Both papers called on the Jewish community to speak out against the Sharon government, and a columnist in the Cape Times strongly intimated that the South African Zionist Federation should be banned. Letters from the Board of Deputies slamming the double-standards and selective morality of singling out Jews in this way subsequently appeared in all three papers.

In elections held in South Africa last week, the ANC, the ruling party, again achieved a landslide victory with over two thirds of the national vote. The second party was the Democratic Alliance (DA) with about 13 persons which is led by a Jew, Tony Leon.


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