The growing verbal attacks against Israel in South Africa continue unchecked. This license to attack is given by the highest levels of the country: top ANC stalwart, Jesse Duarte (who spoke in public during the recent Israel-Hamas conflict and suggested that Israel was going to invade Africa), calls for action against Israel from prominent members of the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) and even from the government of South Africa, itself.
The South African government openly stated its support for Israel to be investigated for war crimes, even during the heat of battle before facts were known. The calls on social media to boycott various shops and individuals which stock Israeli products or support Israel, have become prevalent. These acts of impunity are either tolerated or ignored.
The most recent incident involves SA’s Minister of Communications & Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
This is the same Minister who famously stated she had never been to Switzerland, “only to Geneva…”. On live TV on 1 June 2021, she stated that she had come across a most disturbing picture of a lifeless Palestinian child under the knee of a uniformed “police” from Israel. This picture continues to haunt her, she said solemnly. She emphasised that Palestinian children and other children should be protected and not killed at the hands of the police or soldiers. She said it reminded her of the Soweto riots. She then when on to say that this kind of crime should be classified as a crime against humanity.
We trawled the internet for a picture of an Israeli soldier with his knee on the neck of a lifeless Palestinian child.
The only picture we found remotely resembling this description, is the below photograph of a uniformed man with his knee on the neck of a child, pinned down on the ground. This is a picture that has been circulating on social media for a few years. particularly on Arabic social media and the website Gaza News, a website not well-respected, and not known for honesty.
While the Minister did not show the picture to which she referred, this is the only picture that we could find which fits her description. If this is the photograph to which the Minister refers, then this picture was debunked by various news sites, some years ago, as a malicious blood-libel.
The original article, written on 2nd October 2016 and published on Chilean publication El Dinamo, can be found here. A Chilean second lieutenant came under heavy criticism for the abusive way in which he detained a child.
Looking at the picture, it is immediately obvious that the uniform is not that of the Israeli police. The name tag is Roman alphabet lettering, not Hebrew lettering. It reads “Subteniente F Venegas V” – which, in English, is “Second Lieutenant F. Venegas”. The biggest giveaway of course is the emblem on the right hand right of the jacket – it is not from an Israeli police unit.
Below is the emblem. “Carabineros de Chile” are the Chilean national law enforcement police.
Leaders peddling dangerous lies
Writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley said that an unexciting truth may be eclipsed by a thrilling falsehood. The Minister’s introduction to her address was certainly thrilling.
From our research, this is a case of lazy information-gathering at best.
Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams, and indeed any elected officials or people in positions of power, would do well to check information before using it to call the entire country to action. This is especially important when the nation against which the cry is rallied, has a minority under threat, living in South Africa.
Perhaps the Minister would like to call out Chile for what she has stated is a ‘crime against humanity’.
We will follow up with the Minister’s office.