New York, NY, July 11, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today strongly condemned as “irresponsible and unacceptable” statements made by a major South African political figure who compared Israel’s military operation against Gaza to Nazi treatment of the Jews.
Jessie Duarte, Deputy Secretary-General of the African National Congress – South Africa’s governing party – accused Israel of turning the “occupied territories of Palestine into permanent death camps,” adding: “As we are reminded of the atrocities of Nazi Germany, surely we must ask the people of Israel has the term ‘Lest we forget’ lost its meaning.”
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor, issued the following statement:
It is irresponsible and unacceptable for a high-ranked representative of South Africa’s governing party to engage in such extremist and incendiary anti-Israel invective.
Certainly, Ms. Duarte is permitted her opinions, and the ANC, their policies. However, when a high-ranked representative of the governing party perpetuates offensive comparisons of Israel to the Nazis, it reveals gross ignorance about the Holocaust, offends survivors of the Nazi genocide, and undermines the respectability and responsibility of the ANC itself.
We join our colleagues in the South African Jewish community in demanding Ms. Duarte recognize the severity of her statements and apologize to the community.
In ADL’s recent Global 100 poll assessing attitudes towards Jews in over 100 countries worldwide, 66 percent of South Africans polled said they had never heard of the Holocaust, while 34 percent indicated they had.