Hideous apologism for Hamas

David Saks responds to Ronnie Kasrils' and Iqbal Jassat's attempts to downplay the atrocities of October 7th

“It never happened, and anyway the Jews deserved it”.

As a one-sentence summary of how admirers of Nazi Germany explain the systematic annihilation of European Jewry during World War II, this will do as well as any. Unsurprisingly, it is also how Hamas apologists have gone about justifying the atrocities the terror organisation carried out on 7 October while at the same time denying that they even happened. 

Following a statement from the SA Jewish Board of Deputies expressing its abhorrence over Ronnie Kasrils publicly praising and celebrating Hamas’ murder spree, two responses have appeared in this forum. One is by long-time local Hamas cheerleader Iqbal Jassat and the other by Kasrils himself. Both combine elaborating on why Israelis had it coming with assertions that the reported atrocities never actually happened but have been concocted, in Jassat’s words, as “part of the Netanyahu regime's elaborate propaganda campaign”. 

When Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D Eisenhower visited the Ohrdruf concentration camp in April 1945, he realised that a day would come when people would deny that the horrors that he witnessed there had ever taken place. He therefore invited the media to document the scene and also compelled the local German population and soldiers not fighting at the front to witness the atrocities for themselves.

His foresight would indeed be useful in countering subsequent attempts to portray the Holocaust as a Jewish fabrication. Had Eisenhower been present in the wake of the 7 October massacre, however, he may have felt that there was no need to take such steps, since in this case, the perpetrators themselves made sure to record their crimes and thereafter - joyously, proudly and triumphantly – to publicise them to the world.

Footage captured by body cameras worn by the attackers, security cameras, vehicle dashboard cameras, social media accounts and videos from mobile phones leave no room for doubt as to what transpired on that harrowing day. To counter inevitable attempts to deny or downplay the extent of the atrocities, compilations of this material, included the killing of children, brutal gang rapes and decapitations have been screened before the UN General Assembly and shown to political leaders and journalists the world over, including in South Africa.

Since then, further details of the horrors perpetrated by Hamas have come to light and continue to do so. On the Friday following the massacre, members of the international media visited the victim-identification center at the Shura military base where the remains, often hideously mutilated, of many of the victims were being housed.

Charred corpses and body parts, some of young children and babies, where among the things they were shown. According to an Israeli journalist present, the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson asked that his colleagues reveal what the murderers did, but at the same time urged that they avoid detail that would “spill into death porn”.

For a long time, the systematic and brutal rape of many of the victims was a relatively neglected aspect of the 7 October massacre, but that is now changing. Testimony after testimony since gathered from survivors have revealed how women were gang raped, mutilated and shot.

Pictures showing state of the victims’ bodies leave no doubt as to the unspeakable things that had been done to them before they were murdered. Footage taken by the perpetrators themselves showed several women stripped of their clothing and in one case a woman prisoner with her hands zip-tied behind her back and blood on the crotch of her pants. All this has led, albeit at a shamefully late stage, to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres finally calling for a thorough investigation into what he described as “numerous accounts of sexual violence during the abhorrent acts of terror by Hamas”.

It is in light of evidence like this that the following assertions made in the above-mentioned Jassat and Kasrils responses need to be considered: According to Kasrils, “The lies about 40 beheaded babies and raped women have been thoroughly debunked. Only one baby has been reported dead, sadly killed in the crossfire”. According to Jassat, “There hasn't been any evidence of babies being ‘beheaded’ by Hamas nor of women raped”.

Even Kasrils can hardly deny that Hamas, in yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, took nearly 250 civilians as captives for use as bargaining tools. He does the next best thing, however, by likening the hostages, whose ages ranged from babies and toddlers to the very elderly, to Palestinian women and teenagers imprisoned by Israel for stabbing and other lethal terrorist attacks. 

There is ultimately no possibility of ever reasoning with those who have all the necessary evidence before them yet choose to state the exact opposite of what it shows. Their assertions, however strident, can only be dismissed as the non-reasoning of crackpots and conspiracy theorists.

Precisely the kind of people, in fact, who whitewash, promote, and legitimize the murderous regime of Hamas while demonizing and defaming the Jewish state of Israel in terms that bear no relation whatever with reality.

In addition to casually dismissing the details of the Hamas terror rampage as lying Zionist propaganda, Kasrils repeats and amplifies the admiration he had previously expressed over the operation Hamas carried out on that day. He refers to “the exceptional military ingenuity and ability” of the raid, the “tactical sophistication of the Palestinian resistance” and how Hamas had shown itself to be a “competent, highly disciplined, strategic and courageous force”.

Thus does Ronnie Kasrils celebrate the orgy of cold-blooded slaughter, torture, rape and kidnappings that took place on 7 October. In conclusion, one can only wonder at the unusually low level of moral depravity it must take for so hideous an atrocity to be characterised in this way.

David Saks is Associate Director of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies.