South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein on Friday demanded that his country’s ruling party retract a statement comparing Israel with Nazi Germany, accusing a senior ANC official of having “betrayed the South African dream of peaceful and dignified dialogue.”
The African National Congress on Thursday denounced Israel’s military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, comparing it to the Nazi war against the Jews and eliciting an immediate denunciation from South African Jewry.
Party Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte condemned Israel’s strikes on Hamas targets as “barbaric attacks on the defenseless Palestinian people of Gaza,” adding that Israel has turned the “occupied territories of Palestine into permanent death camps” and calling for all South Africans to boycott Israel.
Challenging Duarte to a public debate, Goldstein said that her statement was “replete with malicious and shameful lies that must be challenged in the cold light of reason and facts.”
“I therefore challenge Ms.
Duarte to a public debate with me on the claims she makes in her statement,” he said in a statement provided to The Jerusalem Post. “Her hate-filled outburst is so grotesquely untrue that it cannot be left to stand without the proper public scrutiny provided by a one-on-one debate.”
“Ms. Duarte’s comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany, and Gaza to the Holocaust death camps, is abhorrent and beyond the pale of civilized discourse.
The Nazi Holocaust is history’s greatest crime, meticulously detailed by the criminal regime that planned and executed over six million Jews,” Goldstein said. She “must be held accountable for her morally repugnant words, which have brought the ANC into disrepute.”
Duarte’s statement “completely destroys any credibility the ANC had of being an honest broker who can help bring peace to this bitter conflict,” he continued. “I write these words in Jerusalem, where I have witnessed the situation first-hand, and experienced the siren warning of Hamas rockets aimed at densely populated cities with the intention of inflicting maximum civilian fatalities.
There is no sovereign country on earth that would not defend its citizens from such military attacks.”