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Nelson Mandela Bay upheaval stirs anti-Semitism on Twitter

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In the wake of Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Athol Trollip’s ousting in a no-confidence vote on Monday, one man took to Twitter to express his anti-Semitic views.
by TALI FEINBERG | Aug 30, 2018

“When a darkie is in charge, he becomes a criminal, but when a whitey/Jew takes over is [sic] ‘change!’,” wrote Sibuda Makhanya in response to a tweet by South African Broadcasting Corporation journalist Stephen Grootes about the political upheaval in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Another Twitter user, hiltandchuckdog, called him out, saying, “You gave yourself away: ‘but when a whitey/jew takes over’. What is your obsession with whites and Jews? Ps. Judaism is a religion not a race.” Makhanya responded, “One is a coloniser and the other is money oriented. Jews are owners of money.”

The political power struggle in Nelson Mandela Bay began after Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor Victor Manyathi refused to join his DA counterparts in defence of city council speaker Jonathan Lawack. Lawack was ousted in the motion supported by the ANC, Economic Freedom Fighters, United Democratic Movement, and United Front. Manyathi told 702’s Eusebius McKaiser that “white supremacy still exists within the DA, and whites think that they are better than the blacks, including Athol”.

When the SA Jewish Report asked the tweeter Makhanya if he agreed with this statement, he asked, “Are you implying that Victor is making up the story about Trollip? Being Jewish or not, it is similar to other races who take darkies for granted, like Indians and Coloureds who are black when it suits them and white when up to something! He may be behaving like this so that his masters are happy.”

Makhanya, who says he lives in Johannesburg, elaborated, “They [the DA] are funded by them [the Jews] and they are the masters of money-making. The people fronted by Jews are a challenge to darkies. You have just heard how arrogant Trollip has been.”

He also said: “Here, most successful businesspeople are Jewish. Am not saying they are bad people, but they know how to make money! Check owners of big companies... In real fact we don’t have a problem with Jews because they create employment and they pay, even though we think it is small money.”

About the DA, he said, “You can’t be defensive of a party of descendants from oppressive apartheid production. If you do your research you will note that money owners are Jews, even the Bible talks of them.”

Professor Adam Mendelsohn, the Director of the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Cape Town, said of Makhanya and his behaviour: “This man has all of 118 followers on Twitter, so it is difficult to draw any broad conclusions about his views other than that they are re-hashings of classical anti-Semitic tropes.

“Given the experience of Vicki Momberg, such people should live in fear of legal repercussions. Whatever one thinks of the current direction that the policing of hate speech is going, the airing of crude prejudice in cases like this seemingly invites more trouble for the speaker than the targeted group.”

In a study that the Kaplan Centre conducted last year under Mendelsohn’s directorship on the attitudes of black South Africans towards Jews, one in five respondents described Jews as “selfish, racist or greedy”. This was considered high, considering that most respondents said they had never met a Jew.

David Saks of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies commented on the tweets: “Stereotypical notions of Jews as intrinsically mercenary and money-loving and of abusing their financial power to manipulate historical events for their own ends have been at the heart of anti-Semitic ideologies from time immemorial. It is naturally distressing, therefore, to see such toxic notions continuing to manifest in our society.

“That being said, Makhanya’s views do not seem to be driven by deep-seated malice, but rather result from a lack of knowledge both about the Jewish community and the history and nature of anti-Jewish prejudice. As such, respectful engagement can go a long way towards addressing whatever misconceptions he might have picked up in the kind of social milieu in which he operates.”

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