208 US Congressmen/women publicly denounce SA on Gaza – trouble looms for AGOA 

Over 200 Members join bipartisan letter to Biden Administration. Smith, Manning lead letter denouncing South Africa’s grossly unfounded genocide accusation against Israel

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Washington, Jan 23, 2024 – In a letter today to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Kathy Manning (D-NC), Co-Chairs of the House Task Force for Combating Antisemitism, led 208 fellow Members of Congress in denouncing the hostile genocide allegations levied by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 

“South Africa has filed a grossly unfounded case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, accusing Israel of genocide and asking the court to order Israel to immediately halt its military efforts in Gaza,” the 210 lawmakers wrote. “We write to you to express our disgust at this filing, which perpetrates false and dangerous allegations against the Jewish state.” 

Supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Smith-Manning letter urges the Biden Administration “to offer Israel all appropriate support in opposing the South African application to the ICJ, and to encourage our allies to join us in speaking out against this unfounded attack on Israel, particularly at the United Nations and in other intergovernmental organizations.” 

“While barely acknowledging the Hamas terrorists who gleefully massacred, mutilated, raped, and kidnapped innocent civilians on October 7, South Africa makes grossly unfounded and defamatory charges against Israel on the world stage, abusing the judicial process in  order to delegitimize the democratic State of Israel,” continued the lawmakers, noting the accusation was particularly cynical given the term “genocide” was coined following the murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. 

“We vigorously denounce South Africa’s deeply hostile stance towards Israel and thoroughly reject its charge of genocide,” the lawmakers wrote to Blinken. 

Smith, who has chaired 15 congressional hearings to expose and combat antisemitism, is the author of the law that created the Office to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism at the US State Department, as well as the law that established ambassadorial-level leadership of the fight against antisemitism abroad. Smith also serves as Co-Chair of the Israel Allies Caucus together with Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), and Brad Schneider (D-IL)—all of whom also cosigned the letter. 

“I thank my colleagues from both parties who joined me in asking the Biden Administration to support Israel as it responds to this scurrilous abuse of the International Court,” said Smith. “Anyone familiar with the legal definition of genocide and the standards developed around it will understand that South Africa’s petition is nothing more than an exercise in defamation. I hope many other governments join us in denouncing this abuse of the ICJ process.” 

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