SA Organisations

South Africa gets anti-Semitic fallout

  • 2a-Mary Kluk tightcrop
After the high we experienced over Yomtov, we have been brought abruptly down to earth by the upsurge of deadly violence in Israel. At the time of writing, murderous random attacks against Israelis in all parts of the country continue unabated.
by MARY KLUK | Oct 14, 2015

What the present unrest has demonstrated yet again is when inflammatory rhetoric, particularly on the part of those in leadership positions, goes unchecked, acts of violence will inevitably ensue. We can only hope and pray that sanity will prevail and that the parties can find a way to pull back from the brink before matters escalate still further.

South Africa is far from the conflict zone, but sadly, we are once again seeing its fallout manifesting in our own back yard. Over the past few days, we have seen instances of horrific incitement against our community in the social media, reminiscent of the period during last year’s Gaza conflict when levels of anti-Semitism in this country reached their highest-ever recorded levels.

Our law protects freedom of expression, but not when this crosses the line into hate speech and incitement to cause harm. We are following up on every one of the cases that we are aware of, and as ever will leave no stone unturned in bringing those responsible to book.

Here, members of our community can play an important role by informing us timeously of any incidents of anti-Semitism that come to their attention. In this regard, please write to [email protected] and copy [email protected].

I would also appeal to people not to be provoked into engaging in tit-for-tat exchanges of insults and abuse on online forums and in the social media. Such discourse only enflames passions further, in addition to often goading members of our community into posting wantonly offensive comments of their own.

Current developments have unfortunately underlined how appropriate it is that the theme of the forthcoming SAJBD national conference on November 22 will be the rise of global anti-Semitism and how to counter it.

We are pleased to report that on the programme are two of the foremost international experts on this topic, the renowned French intellectual and commentator Dr Bernhard-Henri Levy and World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder.

Both, in different ways, have been at the forefront of bringing the rise of anti-Semitism to the attention of the international community. In addition, we are privileged that President Jacob Zuma has agreed to attend the conference and deliver a message to our community.

In all our previous meetings with Mr Zuma, he has been unequivocal in his assurances that the South African government will continue to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, and will work with us to help ensure that South Africa remains a country where Jews feel secure and accepted.

We will shortly be celebrating an especially joyous aspect of our heritage as we gear up for the third Shabbos Project, a subject we will focus on in next week’s column.  



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