Fact Check: Netanyahu Clip About 'Liberating' Black Africans Is NOT His Future Plan -- It Was A Historical Quote On Decolonization

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Netanyahu Clip About 'Liberating' Black Africans Is NOT His Future Plan -- It Was A Historical Quote On Decolonization Quoting Herzl

Does a video show Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talking about his plan to "liberate" or "recolonize" Black people of Africa? No, that's not true: The clip cut off a sentence from his 2016 African Summit speech where he made it clear he was quoting a statement by a historical figure. On that occasion, Netanyahu said nothing about "recolonization."

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Instagram where it was published on February 18, 2024, under text that read:

After I finish Palestine, tell African gullible leaders that I'm coming for them to recolonize them.

A voice-over narration said:

Video footage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talking about Israel's goals for Africa in a press conference in Uganda has many on the continent speculating what those plans and goals are. Will Africa be Israel's next target after they completely dominate Palestine? Watch the video and let us discuss.

This is what it looked like on Instagram at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-02-19 at 11.00.40 AM.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Mon Feb 19 16:00:40 2024 UTC)

The footage showed Netanyahu speaking in a formal setting.

The opening shot in the video on Instagram captured him saying:

After I liberate the Jewish people, I will go to Africa to help liberate the Black people.

The post, however, omitted a key piece of the context: In a previous sentence, Netanyahu said that he was citing a different person, not announcing his own plans.

This is confirmed by the recording of the event available on Netanyahu's official account on Facebook and the transcript (archived here) from his government website. Both sources offer a longer quote of the Israeli PM's words:

...we are eager to share this technology in so many fields with our African friends. We think that Israel now is the best partner that the countries of Africa could have, and it's something that is dear to our hearts. The founder of modern Zionism, the national movement of the Jewish people, was Theodore Herzl, and he said, 'After I liberate the Jewish people, I will go to Africa to help liberate the black people.' We have our African brethren, the Ethiopian Jews, who are in our society, and I personally work every few weeks to help integrate more and more and incorporate in our society.

He added:

I believe in Africa. I believe in your future and I believe in our partnership for this future.

The Israeli prime minister did not use the term "recolonize" during his appearance or anything remotely synonymous with it.

Netanyahu's speech was recorded at the 2016 African summit in Uganda, years before the full-scale Hamas-Israel war that began on October 7, 2023. The Washington Post (archived here) described it as "the first official visit by an Israeli premier to sub-Saharan Africa in 30 years." According to the newspaper, Israel aimed to increase economic, security and technology cooperation and boost its political influence in the region. All of these are the objectives opposite of the purported threats implied by the post on Instagram.

Netanyahu used his own words to retell Herzl's words.

The original Herzl's quote (archived here) appeared (archived here) in his 1902 novel "Altneuland" ("Old-New Land"). It reads:

There is still one other question arising out of the disaster of nations which remains unsolved to this day, and whose profound tragedy, only a Jew can comprehend. This is the African question. Just call to mind all those terrible episodes of the slave trade, of human beings who, merely because they were black, were stolen like cattle, taken prisoner, captured and sold. Their children grew up in strange lands, the objects of contempt and hostility because their complexions were different. I am not ashamed to say, though I may expose myself to ridicule for saying so, that once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.

Other Lead Stories fact checks on claims regarding Netanyahu can be found here. Stories about the Hamas-Israel war are here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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