The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and Cosatu’s Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said on Thursday they intended laying charges against each other. The SAJBD accused Ehrenreich of hate speech and inciting violence against the Jewish community through a post on his Facebook page.
Ehrenreich’s post read: “The time has come to say very clearly that if a woman or child is killed in Gaza, then the Jewish board of deputies, who are complicit, will feel the wrath of the people of SA with the age old biblical teaching of an eye for an eye.
“The time has come for the conflict to be waged everywhere the Zionist supporters fund and condone the war killing machine of Israel.”
SAJBD chairwoman Mary Kluk in a statement that the post was a flagrant violation of South African law prohibiting hate speech and incitement to cause harm.
“Ehrenreich’s inflammatory post incites violence and hatred against the representative body for South African Jewry.
“What makes it even worse is the fact that he holds a leadership position within Cosatu, South Africa’s largest trade union organisation. It also comes at a time of heightened tension over the Israel-Gaza conflict, thereby inflaming an already volatile situation,” she said.
The board said it would lay charges of incitement of violence with the police and would also lodge a formal complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
The provincial Congress of SA Trade Unions secretary later issued a statement claiming that posts were made in his personal capacity and he stood by them. He said he would be laying a counter claim with the SAHRC.
“I am in turn laying charges against them for supporting crimes against humanity in Gaza, and for being complicit through their actions or inactions, in the killing of women and children in Gaza,” he said in a statement.
“Further charges relate to them sending money and young men to feed the Israeli war machine that is responsible for the massacre of the Palestinians.”
Ehrenreich said he was not anti-Semitic and was not calling for violence against Jews.
“My focus is against the Jewish Board of Deputies specifically, for condoning the violence against Palestinians,” he said, adding that the board had never condemned the Gaza conflict.
Ehrenreich said the South African government should charge the SAJBD for “being complicit in war crimes”. He called for the arrest of South Africans who gone to fight for Israel in Gaza. He also called for an investigation into the funding sources from South Africa for the conflict and for a boycott of Jewish products. SAPA