South African Christian leaders oppose ICJ charge: Cannot keep silent

Christians throughout South Africa have risen against the government’s decision to take Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on charges that it is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

“The African National Congress government and their allies’ decision to take Israel to the International Court of Justice has brought us to a place where, like the time of Queen Esther in the Bible, we cannot keep silent,” said Tshego Motaung, head of the Healing of the Nations prayer for Israel movement in an article published on the South African Christian website Gateway News. “We cannot keep silent when a government that has failed on its domestic mandate wants to rise as a hero in the global political arena.”

Her article, published on Tuesday, came on the heels of an open letter by dozens of faith-based organizations in opposition to the case. 

“We, the South African Christian leaders, strongly oppose the decision by the South African government to launch the case against Israel and demand it be rescinded immediately,” the letter read. 

“We had hoped and prayed that our government would use its influence as a peacemaker to bring about a meaningful and lasting peace in the Middle East,” the letter continued. “Regrettably, it has elected not to do so and instead has chosen sides. We, as Christians, deplore the loss of innocent lives, be it the Jews, Palestinians, Christians, or any other people, but are strongly opposed to the decision.”

SCALES OF JUSTICE decorate the International Criminal Court building in The Hague, Netherlands, in 2019. (credit: PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/REUTERS)

Groups call South Africa’s decision to launch complaint “fundamentally flawed”

The organizations, which include the South African Christian Leaders Forum, Christian View Network, Bridges for Peace, International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, and about two dozen others, called the decision “fundamentally flawed” after Hamas entered Israel on October 7 and raped, mutilated burned and murdered innocent Israelis.

Moreover, they said that the decision would go against the best interest of South Africa and could have determinative political and economic consequences, given that the country’s major trading partners said they see the case as an endorsement of Hamas’s terrorism. 

They also condemn the government for failing to condemn Hamas’s actions in Gaza.

“Such actions could be interpreted as direct support to Hamas’s tactics, including using civilians as human shields and diverting aid for military purposes and the building of tunnels, rather than humanitarian relief sent to the Palestinian people, which Hamas intercepted,” the letter continued. 

In addition, the letter said that the slogan “‘from the river to the sea’ means Israel must become Palestine and Jews must be destroyed. Aside from denying the Jews a right to a homeland in the aftermath of the Holocaust, where does this leave us Christians? 

“Places of worship for Christians in the Holy Land will be destroyed,” the Christians said. 

The writers added that South Africa is not a Muslim country but majority-Christian.

“The South African government has prejudiced the interests of its own people to achieve the political and religious objectives of others. The government is also aware that the one-sided approach it has adopted has placed its Jewish citizens at risk by inciting antisemitism as well as eroding the freedom of religion of Christians in South Africa,” the letter read. 

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post from South Africa, Motaung said the nation is not involved in South Africa’s foreign policy. She noted that although the people vote for those in power, “there is a serious disconnect with the majority.”

The Christian community in South Africa “has been standing with Israel for years,” Motaung noted. But she said that the recent Israel-Hamas war and rising anti-Israel sentiment have led local Christians to be even more vocal. 

“Christians are standing with Israel because we believe in the Bible,” she told the Post. 

Motaung added in her Gateway News article: “History has recorded over many generations of kings and kingdoms who rose against Israel and the Jewish people, seeking to wipe them out.

“Israel still exists because none of those attempts succeeded,” she concluded. “Perhaps this decision to be an accuser of Israel may just be what is needed to hasten the judgment of God against the ANC government and deliver the people of South Africa from their corruption.”

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