by Iqbal Jassat
Islamophobia as a worldwide phenomenon has become increasingly menacing in many parts of Europe and the United States.
As it grows its tentacles with direct, bold and active participation of white supremacists, neoconservatives, likudniks and fascists, Islamophobia is actively promoted by Israel.
Used as a political tool to discredit Palestine’s freedom struggle as well as the global solidarity movement which campaigns to boycott Israel under the banner of BDS, the settler colonial regime has spared no effort in funding and spearheading Islamophobes.
And many who naively believe that South Africa is immune from deliberate and calculated fuelling of hatred, suspicion and mistrust by Israeli-funded agents, should think again.
Latest revelations in a Jewish media platform Forward, make startling disclosures about Israel’s pernicious role in funding and promoting groups for a variety of goals in defence of the Zionist project.
Of particular relevance to South Africa is the Christian Zionist group, ‘Proclaiming Justice to the Nations’ (PJTN). Its name is an oxymoron. The group supports injustice against the Palestinian people.
Headed by an ardent supporter of Israel, Laurie Cardoza-Moore, it is based outside Nashville, US, and was the driving force behind the Tennessee legislature becoming in April 2015 the first state to pass a resolution condemning BDS, and successfully lobbied other states to pass anti-BDS laws.
PJTN is also identified as the group backing a new bill that seeks to change Tennessee’s civil rights code to define antisemitism in a way that includes anti-Zionism.
However of particular relevance to South Africa given that PJTN’s founder and president, Laurie Cardoza-Moore, is known for her incendiary Islamophobic rhetoric, is the footprint she is busy establishing here.
An alarming development indeed and ought to be prioritised for monitoring by the authorities especially the Human Rights Commission (HRC).
The revelations contained in Forward’s report explain that America’s Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has listed the Israeli-funded PJTN as an anti-Muslim hate group (alongside KKK and Nazis).
This was followed later by Amazon which removed the group from its charity donation program as part of a purge of extremist organizations.
Equally shocking to discover that despite this history, the report says Israel approved a payment of $40,000 on January 8, 2020 to “Laune Cardza Moore” (sic) with the subject line “Support for the organization PJTN for the event: Our Shared Biblical Connection to the Holy Land.”
The South African connection that’s in the public domain and confirmed by Forward is that PJTN has hosted events with the same title during November 2019 at churches in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
That Israel has a direct official history of affiliation with PJTN and its notorious Islamophobic founder Laurie Cardoza-Moore is not in dispute.
But that it has been operating under the radar for a considerable period in South Africa, ought to be of concern, not only to the intelligence and security cluster, but also to Palestine solidarity movements.
Apart from PJTN having opened its first chapter in South Africa, it’s important to note that the Johannesburg event was co-sponsored by the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and Cape Town by International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, according to the report.
Forward goes on to claim that Rev Kenneth Meshoe of the ACDP appeared in a 2016 anti-BDS documentary called “Boycott This!” produced by Cardoza-Moore of PJTN.
This film was screened by her at the “Shared Biblical Connection” events in South Africa.
Notwithstanding America’s shameful unconditional support for Israel, it is to the credit of the SPLC for having the integrity to probe and blacklist the PJTN as a hate group.
Significant too that Amazon has dropped PJTN from its funding platform and in a general statement to the JNS said that according to their policy, “organizations that engage in, support, encourage or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering or other illegal activities are not eligible.”
Yet Laurie Cardoza-Moore and her Israeli-funded PJTN, which I need to reiterate is listed in the USA as an “anti-Muslim hate group” is operating in South Africa in pursuit of Israel’s goals.
If Yotam Gidron, author of Israel in Africa is correct in his assessment that South Africa is one of Israel’s top public diplomacy targets, one cannot be complacent nor ignore the threat to solidarity activism in support of Palestine’s freedom struggle by those such as Cardoza-Moore who spearhead hate-filled agendas on behalf of the settler colonial regime.
The ANC-led government has to be particularly mindful of sinister foreign-funded moves to build a Christian Evangelical base as in America to counter and undermine its human rights-based approach to Palestine.
Islamophobia is a disgusting manifestation of hatred for Islam and Muslims. And much more menacing when weaponised by Israel to silence and intimidate resistance.
South Africa has no choice but to confront it.
Iqbal Jassat is Executive Member of the Media Review Network, Johannesburg, South Africa