On this solemn Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah) as we remember and honour the millions of Jews murdered by Nazi Germany in one of the worst genocides in human history, the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) condemns in the strongest terms the South African government’s ongoing and deliberate mischaracterisation of the Jewish State’s actions as “genocide”.

In a recent interview on BBC Hardtalk, Judge Joan Donoghue, who was the President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) when it presided over the case brought about by South Africa against Israel in December, clarified that the court “did not decide, and this is something where I’m correcting something that’s often said in the media. It did not decide that the claim of genocide was plausible.”

The court determined that the Palestinians have a plausible right to be protected from genocide, and that South Africa had the right to present its case.

Despite this clear statement from the former ICJ President, the South African government, spurred on by the antisemitic BDS movement, continues to weaponise the term “genocide” in their support of Hamas, a recognised terrorist organisation, whose charter, rhetoric and actions clearly demonstrate its intent to commit a real genocide against Israel and Jews worldwide.

It is profoundly troubling that the South African government, led by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor, persists in making inflammatory and legally unfounded accusations against Israel. Such reckless rhetoric not only exacerbates tensions but also shows a blatant disregard for the millions of victims of genuine genocides in Africa and around the world, as well as a callous disrespect for the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

Furthermore, we are deeply alarmed and dismayed by Minister Pandor’s visit to Tehran and her engagement with Iranian leaders since the events of October 7. Iran is a nation that unapologetically calls for the annihilation of Israel and has demonstrated its malicious intentions through an unprecedented direct attack against the Jewish State just last month. By aligning with a regime that openly advocates for genocide against Israel, the South African government has taken a stance that is not only morally reprehensible but also undermines South Africa’s credibility on the international stage. Such actions call into question the government’s commitment to peace and human rights.

The SAZF calls on the South African government to retract its incendiary allegations and cease its deliberate mischaracterisation of Israel’s acts of self-defence against Hamas terrorism. We also urge the ICJ to request that South Africa, as a party to the court, desist from misrepresenting their ruling as one that found Israel guilty of genocide in any way.

Furthermore, as the Global Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine prepares to convene in Johannesburg from May 10-12, the SAZF notes that comparing democratic Israel to apartheid South Africa is not only disingenuous but an insult to the victims of apartheid. Israel is a pluralistic society where Arabs and Jews live side by side with equal rights.

On this Yom Hashoah, as we honor the memory of the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, we must remain vigilant against the misuse of terms like “genocide” and “apartheid” for political gain. We must stand united against antisemitism in all its forms and work towards a future of peace, understanding, and mutual respect for all people.