South Africa’s Jewish leaders have harshly criticized the African National Congress and other organizations for meeting this week with Hamas, who they said “enthusiastically endorsed the cold-blooded murder of Jewish civilians” during the unrest in Israel and the West Bank this month.
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“The Hamas delegation is here at the invitation of the ANC, and has also met with President Jacob Zuma. The ANC has signed a letter of intent, with the intention on building a long-term relationship,” said Mary Kluk, the head of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, and Ben Swartz, the head of the South African Zionist Federation.
“During these meetings, they are likely to continue to portray themselves as a liberation struggle, similar to that of the ANC, while at the same time portraying Israel as a tyrannical nation that purposefully targets innocent women and children,” Kluk and Swartz said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The manipulation of facts is particularly distressing in light of the current wave of terrorism plaguing Israel. During these past few weeks of deadly violence in Israel, Hamas has enthusiastically endorsed the cold-blooded murder of Jewish civilians and instigated dozens of lethal attacks against them. Hamas has also congratulated those who have carried out barbarous attacks on Israeli citizens.”
In the coming days, Hamas representatives will meet with the ANC, the South African Communist Party and the Cosatu trade union federation, Kluk and Swartz said.
Meanwhile, the South African Zionist Federation criticized Hamas for wishing to “destroy Israel altogether and ... establish an Islamist dictatorship in its place.”
“At its recent National General Council, the ANC reaffirmed its support for a negotiated, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas, by contrast, does not support, nor has it ever supported, the creation of an independent Palestinian state coexisting in peace alongside Israel,” the federation said in a statement.
“Instead, its charter explicitly stipulates that no negotiated settlement is possible in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians with jihad being the only solution.”
South-African Israelis also upset
In Israel, Telfed, the support organization for immigrants from southern Africa, condemned "in the harshest terms" the ANC-Hamas meeting.
"Over the last few weeks several Israelis have lost their lives and numerous have been injured due to the hate incitement that comes from terror organisations like Hamas. Just today, Hamas called for renewed suicide bombings in Jerusalem," the organization stated on Monday in a letter signed by Maish Isaacson, Telfed's chairman, and Telfed CEO Dorron Kline. "Aligning with a terror organisation that calls for the wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians render the ANC guilty of being complicit with war crimes."
Telfed added: "If South Africa wants to play a meaningful role in brokering any kind of solution in the Middle East statements such as equating Hamas as a 'resistance' movement and accusing Israel of 'encroaching on Palestine and creating Bantustans' as well as many of the other points that have clearly demonstrated blatant biased has sadly sidelined South Africa as a credible mediator."
Meshal is making his first trip to South Africa. The meeting with Zuma marks the first meeting between the head of Hamas’ political bureau and the leader of a non-Muslim country.
The head of the Africa branch of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Yoram Elron, has reprimanded South Africa’s deputy ambassador in Israel; Elron said Israel considers Meshal’s visit to Johannesburg “an unfriendly act” by South Africa, a senior ministry official said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nahshon said Israel was “furious and shocked” by Meshal’s visit. The Israeli ambassador in Pretoria, Arthur Lenk, was expected to submit an official protest to South Africa’s Foreign Ministry.
In a statement on Saturday, the ANC said the talks with Meshal would deal with a “joint vision of self-determination for the Palestinian people and an independent state, free of Israeli occupation.”SA Jews blast ANC meet with HamasThe community juxtaposes Hamas’ hard line with the ANC’s support for a two-state solution.