As the “Global Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine” prepares to start in Johannesburg today, it is crucial to recognise that the conference is hosting speakers who have expressed support for the internationally designated terrorist group Hamas and celebrated its attacks against Israelis on 7th October.

The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) strongly condemns the South African government’s endorsement of this hatefest taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre.

This conference, designed to delegitimise Israel on the world stage, brings together individuals who have glorified the deadly Hamas attack on Israel on 7th October, which claimed the lives of over 1,000 Israelis.

Among the speakers is Ronnie Kasrils, who publicly praised the Hamas attack as “brilliant” and “spectacular”. He further added, “And damn good. I was so pleased, and people who support [the] resistance applauded it, absolutely”. Despite later backtracking and claiming his speech was not about the civilians killed, his initial comments remain deeply troubling.

The roster of speakers also includes American lawyer Lamis Deek, who has described Israel as “Nazi-esque” and celebrated on X (formerly Twitter) the killing of a 60-year-old woman and a policeman in Jerusalem in 2016 by a Palestinian, praising the killer and expressing hope that he would live forever. She has referred to Hamas as “global heroes” and expressed support for internationally designated terrorist organisations such as Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The conference fails to acknowledge Israel’s right of self-defence after Hamas initiated a war on 7th October by entering the country, killing over a thousand people, and taking over 250 hostages, over 130 of whom remain in captivity. Disturbingly, South Africa is one of the few countries that does not designate Hamas as a terrorist group, even as it willfully targets hundreds of innocents and refuses to release the hostages. With Hamas vowing to attack Israel again, the Jewish State has no choice but to protect its citizens.
The conference’s opening will be officiated by Minister Naledi Pandor, and Zane Dangor, Director-General of the Department of International Relations, is set to participate.

The South African government appears to be allowing itself to be influenced by foreign agendas, continuing to show support for terrorists and countries that stand against Israel. This stance puts it at odds with the US, one of its most significant trading partners.

Ironically, this conference is taking place at a time when Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates have begun normalising relations with Israel and distancing themselves from Iran-backed terrorist groups like Hamas.

The conference serves no constructive purpose other than to inflame emotions and spread misinformation against Israel and the Jewish people. It is shameful that, a mere three weeks before the national elections, the ANC government is allowing such hatred and division to spread unchecked in our country.

The SAZF calls on the South African government to withdraw its support for this conference and instead align itself with free democracies that support Israel’s right to self-defence against terrorist organisations like Hamas. Comparing the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Apartheid is not only inaccurate and offensive to actual Apartheid victims but also hinders progress towards a peaceful resolution.