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If antisemitism harms us, our prejudice harms others

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Two articles in your 22 May edition of the SA Jewish Report refer, the front-page article, “SA woman’s antisemitic outburst shocks SA Jewry”, and the editorial, “The dark underbelly of antisemitism”.
by Brian Sacks, Cape Town | Jun 04, 2020

Your front-page story is shocking. I hope that this woman is found guilty of hate speech. Your editorial confirms how the majority of Jews, no doubt, feel about antisemitism.

The SA Jewish Report does a sterling job in keeping us updated regarding attacks against us.

Many of us have over decades attempted to stamp this out or at least point out to the ignorant how harmful it can be.

Sadly, my experience over many years of living in the major cities is that while we protect our Jewish identity at every possible opportunity – correctly so – the opposite doesn’t apply.

We are quick to attack anybody showing any antisemitic tendencies, but don’t practice the same principle when it comes to people of other faiths or races.

You articulately ended your column by urging all of us to make sure that we set an example as “we cannot point fingers at others if we don’t practise what we preach”.

Those derogatory terms we use to describe people of other faiths and races – we all know what these are – from where did they come? Did we learn them from our parents? Why do we use these ugly terms? Do we realise that we are hurting people by referring to them by these names?

Are we that insensitive, that it’s not okay to be referred to using the derogatory terms people use for Jews, but it doesn’t apply the other way around?

We need to teach our children that this isn’t okay, and just because their peers talk like this, it doesn’t make it right.

Our shuls need to tell the older generation that it’s not okay. After all, they are the ones from whom our kids learnt to talk like this. Our religious leaders have a responsibility to try to discourage this kind of language.

Thankfully, the younger generation born in the new South Africa are generally not guilty of this, so there’s still hope.

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