South African lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi misquoted the Bible on Thursday in accusing Israel of “genocide” against Palestinians at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, as it tried to turn the victim of Hamas’s terror attack into the aggressor.
Ngcukaitobi cited statements by various Israeli officials responding to the October 7 attack as if they demonstrated genocidal intent. Among the statements was a quote of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referring to the story of “Amalek” in the Bible.
As Breitbart News pointed out at the time, Netanyahu was referring to Deuteronomy 25:17, “You shall remember what Amalek did to you.” Critics of Israel on social media misquoted him as referring to a different passage, in Samuel, which he did not cite.
This is a misquote of @Netanyahu.— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) October 28, 2023
He specifically quoted Deuteronomy 25:17, not Samuel.
Here's the Biblical quote in full context.
No particular group today is "Amalek" but it is a familiar Jewish idea to fight those who, like the Nazis and Hamas, attack the most vulnerable. https://t.co/DMlQCPvg3C pic.twitter.com/kMv69hBDoF
The quote from Ecclesiasties (3:8) — "a time for war and a time for peace" — is necessary to help people understand why, when Israel was so close to peace with the Arab world, this conflict erupted. Yes, it's because of Iran and Hamas; but also, it's the human condition. (2/3)— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) November 1, 2023
Ngcukaitobi played a video of Netanyahu’s statement and gave the incorrect citation to Samuel instead of to Deuteronomy:
Here is Netanyahu’s actual quote, in context:
Since time immemorial we have struggled with bitter enemies, who rose up against us to destroy us. When we are equipped with the strength of spirit and the righteousness of our path, we stood resolutely against those who sought [to destroy] our souls.The current fight against the “Hamas” murderers is another chapter in the story of national struggle for generations.
“Remember what Amalek did to you.”
We constantly remember the sights of the horrific massacre on Shabbat Simchat Torah, October 7, 2023. Before our eyes stand our brothers and sisters who were murdered, wounded, kidnapped; the fallen of the IDF and the security forces.
In their name and on their behalf we embarked on a campaign, the purpose of which is the destruction of the cruel and murderous enemy Hamas-ISIS, the return of our abductees and the return of security to our country, our citizens and our children.
This is the war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness. We will not let up on our mission until the light overcomes the darkness — the good will defeat the extreme evil that threatens us and the entire world.
Here is how South Africa misrepresented Netanyau’s quote in its brief, citing the wrong passage of the Bible and without context:
On 28 October 2023, as Israeli forces prepared their land invasion of Gaza, the Prime Minister invoked the Biblical story of the total destruction of Amalek by the Israelites, stating: “you must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible. And we do remember”. The Prime Minister referred again to Amalek in the letter sent on 3 November 2023 to Israeli soldiers and officers. The relevant biblical passage reads as follows: “Now go, attack Amalek, and proscribe all that belongs to him. Spare no one, but kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings, oxen and sheep, camels and asses” [footnotes omitted].
Netanyahu — as anyone actually familiar with the Bible would understand — was referring to Deuteronomy, not to Samuel. The injunction to “remember” Amalek is also more familiar to Jews, since it appears in the first five books of the Bible, which form the Torah, which is recited, in full, every year in nearly every synagogue in the world (the rest of the Bible is read more sporadically).
Moreover, Netanyahu was referring to the war against Hamas — not Palestinians in general.
Ngcukaitobi later played a video of Israeli soldiers singing about wiping out “Amalek,” and claimed they were following Netanyahu’s orders. He omitted the fact that the Israeli military has condemned and disciplined soldiers for such behavior.
South Africa’s other arguments were a recitation of hostile propaganda. “No one is spared, not even babies,” one lawyer said, ignoring the fact that Israel takes extraordinary steps to avoid hurting civilians in Gaza, while Hamas uses them as human shields.
Another lawyer for South Africa obscured Hamas’s abuses, claiming that aid trucks arriving in Gaza were “seized upon by the hungry,” ignoring the fact that armed gunmen were seizing aid, and that Palestinians openly blame Hamas for stealing the aid.
As the Times of Israel noted, one South African lawyer even said Israel was not entitled to self-defense against Gaza terrorists.
South Africa’s legal representatives also couched their arguments in terms of an attack against the existence of Israel, claiming, among other things, that Palestinians had a “right of return” to villages they left during the Arab war against Israel in the 1948 war, which would destroy Israel. Last month, South Africa’s ruling party welcomed representatives of the Hamas terror group, which is devoted, under its charter, not only to the destruction of Israel, but also to the genocide of Jews throughout the world.
As foreign policy analysts Ray Hartley and Greg Mills have noted, South Africa’s enthusiasm for international courts against Israel contrasts sharply with the way it has tried to shield Russia, Sudan, and other rogue states from international courts.
Update: Israel responded to Thursday’s arguments by calling South Africa the “legal arm of the Hamas terrorist organization.”
Today we were witness to one of the greatest shows of hypocrisy in history, compounded by a series of false and baseless claims.— Lior Haiat 🇮🇱 (@LiorHaiat) January 11, 2024
South Africa, which is functioning as the legal arm of the Hamas terrorist organization, utterly distorted the reality in Gaza following the October 7… pic.twitter.com/82EfD9WeuF
Even Israeli opposition figures blasted South Africa and The Hague, with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid saying that the United Nations was rewarding terrorism by turning Israeli victims of an intended Hamas genocide into the supposed perpetrators.
It is not Israel that is on trial today, but the integrity of the international community.— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) January 11, 2024
If a country that protects itself from a brutal, murderous terrorist attack can find herself in court for genocide, then the Genocide Convention has become a reward for terrorism. pic.twitter.com/CgMQgunSpX
On Friday, Israel will have the chance to respond to South Africa’s arguments. It will be represented by former Chief Justice Aharon Barak, a left-wing figure who is widely respected internationally. He will defend a government with which he has clashed.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the 2021 e-book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now updated with a new foreword. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.