South Africa as a diplomatic proxy for Iran: The growing threat of terrorism in Africa, according to a rabbi’s perspective

South Africa is acting as a diplomatic proxy for Iran in the face of jihadist attacks, according to Union of Orthodox Synagogues of South Africa chief rabbi Warren Goldstein at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference on Tuesday.

“Just as Hamas serves as an armed proxy for Iran, the South African government serves as its diplomatic proxy, as it did at the International Court of Justice, the diplomatic equivalent of the October 7 attacks,” said Goldstein, referencing South Africa’s petition to the ICJ accusing Israel of genocide.

“The different kinds of wars they fight are intertwined – Hamas with bombs and guns to kill and maim as many people as possible, and South Africa with words and arguments to delegitimize Israel and turn Western opinion against the Jewish state, forcing it into self-destructive negotiations with its enemies through which it might be slowly dismembered or, left without the means or support to defend itself, simply overrun,” Goldstein continued.

Potential partnerships in African countries

“This makes the diplomatic war of delegitimization, ultimately, the most serious national security threat facing Israel.”

South Africa still had the potential to be a partner for the US and Israel, said Goldstein, as the government had lost the support of the majority of its citizens due to its corruption and incompetence. For this reason, the rabbi said that Israel and AIPAC should not disengage from South Africa.

People hold Palestinian and South African flags during a demonstration in support of Palestinians at Three Anchor Bay in Cape Town, South Africa, October 22, 2023. (credit: ESA ALEXANDER/REUTERS)

Goldstein said that the way to fight a “diplomatic war” was to build alliances with states in Africa, noting the large Christian community and large potential for economic growth. Africans, like Israelis, had experienced raping, pillaging, and captive-taking by jihadist forces.

Around 287 children were kidnapped from a Nigerian school on March 7 by Islamic State, he noted. He also recalled the 2014 Boko Haram mass kidnapping in the north of that country, in which 276 girls were taken.

“The terror onslaught perpetrated against Africans is one of the most unnoticed stories in the world today – it seems as if Black lives do not matter if they are taken by Jihadists in Africa,” said Goldstein. “the world must take note that Israel’s war with Hamas – and by extension Iran – is against the same enemy raping and pillaging its way through African villages. The ideology of al-Shabaab and Boko Haram and ISIS is the same ideology espoused, funded, and propagated by Iran and its proxies, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis.”