Top South African Leader Claims Israel Wants to Conquer African Continent in Conspiracy-Laden Antisemitic Rant
A senior leader of South Africa’s ruling party unleashed a disturbing antisemitic rant on Tuesday at a protest outside the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria, in which she variously accused Israel of planning the conquest of Africa, threatened South African Jews whose children serve in the IDF, and called for a boycott of Jacobs Coffee, a popular brand in the country that originates with a non-Jewish German mercantile family of the same name.
Jessie Duarte — the deputy secretary-general of the African National Congress (ANC) — made the comments during an inflammatory speech demanding the immediate expulsion of the Israeli Embassy, in the wake of the recent renewed fighting between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza.
“Go home, go and talk about what you are doing wrong,” Duarte told embassy staff through a megaphone. “We will come and talk to you and help you to bring about peace, but please go home.”
Duarte — who was centrally involved in a 2017 ANC campaign to break diplomatic ties with Israel — denounced Israel as a “military junta, not a democratic society,” and leveled unsubstantiated accusations of “genocide” against the Jewish state. She claimed that opposition from the “World Trade Organization” had prevented the international community from labeling the conflict with the Palestinians as a genocide.
Duarte also signaled that South Africa’s powerful pro-Palestinian lobby would be willing to use force to close down the Israeli Embassy.
“We are going in there one of these days. We can jump fences,” Duarte said.
Duarte then took popular anti-Zionist conspiracy theories about Israel’s territorial expansion to a new heights in her speech
“If we do not stop this imperialism in Israel, one day they will move into Africa and start dispossessing our land here,” she stated. “They will become the next imperialists.”
Advocating a boycott of Israeli products, Duarte remarked: “We can do without Jacobs Coffee. Many of us come to the protest, we wear the keffiyeh, it’s a sign of protest and then we go home and drink Jacobs Coffee.”
The Jacobs Coffee brand was originally launched by Johann Jacobs — a German merchant who hailed from a long-established Christian family in the city of Bremen — in 1895.
In the same speech, Duarte told South African Jews whose children volunteer for the IDF that they were “part of the problem.” She took the opportunity to deny that she was antisemitic, telling the crowd, “Israel has already said that I am antisemitic. That is the most stupid thing to say when you are in the wrong.”
“You look for a reason to keep people quiet,” she asserted, drawing on the familiar anti-Zionist trope that Jews only invoke the charge of antisemitism to deflect attention from the plight of the Palestinians. “It’s not going to happen.”
The speech drew a furious response from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD).
“Surely someone in this important position should know better than to use inflammatory and irresponsible language at such a volatile time,” Wendy Kahn, the SAJBD’s national director, said in a statement.
Duarte’s “bizarre claims that Israel is becoming a global imperialist are ludicrous,” Kahn said. “This delusional and paranoid statement is embarrassing for a woman in such a key position. Her numerous references of genocide are scandalously false and make a mockery of victims of real genocide.”
South African Jews held their own solidarity rally with Israel in Johannesburg on Sunday. Among the speakers was Israel’s Ambassador, Lior Keinan, who told the crowd that the sweep of history was on their side, despite current political adversities.
“In the last 20 years, since BDS was formed, Israel has had the best time in history. Israel is not going anywhere. We are moving from one success to another,” Keinan said.
The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), which staged the rally, pointed out that anti-Zionist demonstrators had attempted to shut down the event, but failed.
“The SAZF strongly condemns the provocative acts of aggression and antisemitism coming from the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement, who deliberately tried to provoke the SA Jewish community with antisemitic placards and rhetoric,” the group said. “Their attempts to silence and intimidate SA Jewry and Zionists around this country will not be tolerated. We will continue to uphold our right, as Jews, and the broader community to support Israel.”