Israel Pushes Back on South African Misquote of Bible’s ‘Amalek’ Verse

"Remember what Amalek did to you" - Deuteronomy 15:17 cited in Dutch at the Holo
Hague Municipality

Israel issued a statement Tuesday addressing one of the most glaring mistakes in South Africa’s presentation last week to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague: the distortion of the Bible’s reference to the evil nation of “Amalek.”

As Breitbart News noted in October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited a verse from Deuteronomy, “Remember what Amalek did to you” (Deuteronomy 15:17) in an address to the Israeli nation. The phrase is familiar to many Jews because it appears in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, and is read every year. “Amalek” is understood to be a persistence force of evil throughout history; and the verse about Amalek is interpreted to mean that Jews have a duty to remember and resist that evil.

Netanyahu has cited that passage frequently in subsequent speeches. But anti-Israel critics twisted that biblical reference into a call for “holy war” by citing the wrong passage — namely, a story in I Samuel 15, in which King Saul is ordered to destroy Amalek.

South Africa’s lawyers repeated the misquote in their legal brief and in their oral arguments at the ICJ. After Israel delivered its rebuttal at the ICJ South Africa’s Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola told reporters on the courthouse steps that he believed Israel had not refuted the accusation of “genocidal intent,” and specifically cited the passage about Amalek.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu’s office issued a statement specifically addressing the South African misquote and misunderstanding of “Amalek,” pointing out that the biblical passage is included in many Holocaust memorials, including one at The Hague itself (at top):

Among the absurdities levelled against Israel at The Hague was the charge that after the October 7th massacre Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu incited genocide by quoting the Biblical phrase “Remember what Amalek did to you.”

This false and preposterous charge reflects a deep historical ignorance.

The Amalekites mercilessly attacked the Children of Israel after the Exodus from Egypt. The comparison to Amalek has been used throughout the ages to designate those who seek to eradicate the Jewish people, most recently the Nazis.

That is why the words on a banner in a permanent exhibit at Yad Vashem, Israel’s famed Holocaust Museum, urge visitors to “Remember what Amalek did to you.” This same phrase appears in The Hague at the memorial for Dutch Jews murdered during the Holocaust. Obviously neither reference is an incitement to genocide of the German people.

So too Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reference to Amalek was not an incitement to genocide of Palestinians, but a description of the utterly evil actions perpetrated by the genocidal terrorists of Hamas on October 7th and the need to confront them.

Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, with a banner citing the passage from Deuteronomy 15:17: “Remember what Amalek did to you.” (GPO)

Israel also pointed out at the ICJ on Friday that Netanyahu had repeatedly stressed that Israel’s fight was not against Palestinian civilians in Gaza, but specifically against the Hamas terrorist organization that has used Palestinian civilians as human shields.

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.


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