The South African Zionist lobby are feeling the pressure of the Palestinian solidarity movement and the increased calls for the boycott of Israeli goods. That was according to Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich, in light of allegations of hate speech against him. The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) plans to open a criminal case with the police and lodge a complaint at the SA Human Rights Commission (HRC) over a Facebook post which they believed would incite violence against the local Jewish community.
Ehrenreich is set to file counter claims against SAJBD for allegedly “supporting crimes against humanity” in relation to the organisations support for Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip.
The 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.”
Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat, Ehrenreich acknowledged the post, but said the point he was trying to convey was that South African’s needed to take action that was commensurate with the atrocities taking place in Gaza. He denied suggestions the post was meant to incite violence against the Jewish community, also insisting he was not anti-Semitic.
“What I think we should do is charge SAJBD, who are responsible for mobilising funds in SA for the Israeli war machinery, who sending young people to go fight in the Israeli army, and who has not once condemned the Israeli army’s atrocities in Gaza. We must charge them with war crimes,” he explained.
Ehrenreich suggested SABJD’s stance was not in line with the South African policy of support for Palestine. He also accused them on not representing the entire Jewish community, large parts of whom have come out against the actions of the Israeli government.
“They are a unrepresentative body, who are trying to impose their support for Israeli aggression, on our country as a whole. We should not stand for that, and we should take more decisive action,” he said.
He suggested SAJBD’s action was motivated by the fact that they were starting to feel the pressure of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
“They are also seeing that with an overwhelming number of South Africans, as demonstrated by the marches that have taken place in Cape Town and across the country, that the public sentiment is turning against them and people are becoming more aware,” he said.
In response, SAJBD president Zev Krengel said they viewed the post as an incitement of violence, calling for ‘an eye for an eye’ for a conflict that was not taking place in South Africa.
“We take these threats very seriously. Generally people don’t start with violence, they talk about violence and then they do it,” he said.
Krengel said he viewed Ehrenreich’s suggestions that SAJBD were only representative of a minority of the local Jewish population, as insulting. He also took offence to his suggestions that SAJBD were not in line with the countries stance on the Israel/Palestine issue.
“He’s basically saying that if you are a Jew and you believe in Cosatu believes, we will leave you alone. But if you’re a Jew and you don’t believe what I believe, then I am going to kill you,” he suggested.
On the conflict itself, Krengel said the majority of the Jewish community, including SAJBD themselves, were in condemnation of the lose of civilian life on both sides.
“I don’t think for a minute that anyone wants to see women and children being killed, in either side of a conflict. It is a conflict that at the end of the day is only going to be sorted out with direct dialogue,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)