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From a pig’s head to Mauritian celebration

  • 2a-Mary Kluk tightcrop
Last Thursday, the SAJBD held a protest demonstration in Cape Town against rising levels of anti-Semitism in South Africa. The gathering (which, as required by law, was limited to 50 participants) took place outside the Woolworths store where the previous week, a pig’s head had been deposited by the Congress of SA Students in protest against Woolworths’ stocking Israeli produce.
by MARY KLUK | Nov 04, 2014

National Director Wendy Kahn, along with Charisse Zeifert and Aviva Moses from our national office, co-ordinated the event together with Cape Council Chairman Eric Marx. Addressing the gathering, Wendy said that smuggling in a pig’s head in a pram and depositing it in a fridge that was assumed to contain kosher meat, showed “a vicious and vulgar hatred”. It was something that every South African citizen who cherished our democracy should be horrified by.

We were gratified by the amount of media coverage generated by this initiative, and we have also since seen the ANC come out and condemn Cosas’ action.

In a media statement the ANC reaffirmed its position that the solidarity campaign [with the Palestinians] should not “promote anti-Semitism nor undermine the constitutionality enshrined right to freedom of religion enjoyed by all the people of this country”.

This year in particular, we have seen mounting instances of anti-Israel demonstrations crossing over into overt anti-Semitism specifically aimed at the local Jewish community, and we felt that on this occasion, it was important for us to take a more visible, public stand against these unacceptable trends.

Thanks to Wendy and the Board’s professional team for the swift and efficient manner that the protest was planned and executed.

I was not able to attend the demonstration as I was leaving for a very important and meaningful event in Mauritius, namely the official opening of a memorial centre and exhibition recording the story of Jewish refugees from Nazism who were detained on the island during the Second World War.

This is a joint initiative of the African Jewish Congress (AJC) and the Island Hebrew Congregation and was very much the vision of long-serving AJC President Mervyn Smith. Sadly, for health reasons, Mervyn was unable to join us for the occasion, but he was very much in the thoughts of those present and fulsome tribute was paid to him for everything he had done on behalf of Mauritian Jewry and its Holocaust-era heritage over so many years. I will report back in more detail on my Mauritian visit next week.

On Monday, the long-awaited court case between the SA Human Rights Commission and Cosatu’s International Relations spokesman, Bongani Masuku is scheduled to begin. The genesis of this matter is the hate speech complaint lodged by the SAJBD against Masuku in 2009. The SAHRC upheld the complaint and directed Masuku to apologise for the inflammatory statements he had made against our community.

When he refused to comply, the SAHRC instituted proceedings against him in the Equality Court with the aim of getting its ruling enforced.

The Board has been assisting the SAHRC’s legal team in preparing for the case, the outcome of which has important implications for how the laws governing the anti-hate speech provisions in the constitution are interpreted and applied going forward. We will keep the community abreast of developments as they happen in this column and via our Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SAJBD) and website (jewishsa.co.za).

  • Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00-13:00.

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