EFF leader Julius Malema addresses anti-Israel protesters on Thursday as a Hezbollah flag flies in the background, outside the Israeli Embassy in South Africa.
(photo credit: COURTESY TWITTER)
Flying a Hezbollah flag, carrying placards and chanting anti-Israel slurs, South Africa’s second- largest opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, marched against Israel on Thursday in protest of the 100th Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.
About 800 EFF supporters marched to the Israeli Embassy in the country’s capital Tshwane (formerly Pretoria), dressed in their traditional red overalls and red berets.
Others wore T-shirts with the slogan “Free Palestine,” and carried banners that read: “One democratic Palestine for all” and “End Israel’s ethnic cleansing.”
As the crowd arrived, EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, shouted: “Benjamin Netanyahu run...Zionists run... Away with the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, away!” “Israel [today] is not the same as the Israel in the Bible,” Ndlozi told the crowd. “It is using that name to continue murdering the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and we are not going to allow that... because we are internationalists.
“Nobody is going to quote verses and scriptures to us here,” he continued, “trying to mislead us that everywhere in the world people must accept the Bible and give away their land. It is not going to happen. The Palestinians have the right to belong to their land which is Palestine. We make no apology about that.”
Taking the stage to loud cheers outside the Israeli Embassy, party leader Julius Malema said: “We are not with Palestine when it’s fashionable. We will always carry their flag; we know that what Israel is doing to Palestine is wrong.
“The same effort that was used to fight the apartheid regime must be applied in freeing the people of Palestine. The freedom of South Africa means nothing if people in other parts of the world are still oppressed,” he said.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post about the march, South African Zionist Federation chairman Ben Swartz said the protest march “is beyond absurd.”
“South Africa is in the midst of seemingly insurmountable challenges, and yet the EFF elects to spend its time, capital and resources pursuing a highly emotive and polarizing issue.
“The EFF, and those opposed to Israel in South Africa should be under no illusion as to the many millions of South Africans, from all walks of life, which are supportive and appreciative of Israel and what it stands for,” he said.
Swartz said that on Thursday morning more than 2,400 Christian supporters of Israel planned to arrive at the Israeli Embassy in over 30 buses from all around Tshwane, to counter the message of the EFF.
“Essentially the amount of Israel supporters that attempted to make their way to the event were two to three times more than EFF protesters,” the chairman explained.
However, the buses were turned away, with some being impounded by police. There were also reports that several buses were obstructed by EFF protesters.
“I’ve been told on good authority that the Gauteng Police Commissioner made an order to the police that the two crowds were not to be allowed to be at the location and all supporters of Israel and their buses - at one stage there were 16 full buses queued - were turned back by the police,” Swartz said
“On the ground, police were informing the pro-Israel supporters that they would not be able to protect them as the EFF crowd was very aggressive and militant,” Swartz added.
Following the protest, Israel’s Ambassador Lior Keinan posted on Facebook: “The Israeli Embassy would like to thank the thousands of people who arrived today to show their friendship and love to Israel. Even though they were not given access to the embassy, their message of support of Israel was loud and clear. We are humbled to call you our friends.”
The SAZF added that it’s got it “on good advice that many elements from the anti-Israel lobby are party to the planning and funding of this protest, which in turn reveals the political agenda which the EFF are supporting, namely, the demise of the State of Israel.”