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The Jewish Report Editorial

Anti-Semitism growing out of Twitter

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I was dumbfounded when I read the Twitter comments that followed the @EFFSouthAfrica announcement that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had met with the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) on Monday.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Feb 01, 2018

I understand that when people comment on social media, they often don’t filter their thoughts or stop to think. Their thoughts go from whatever comes immediately to mind to their fingers to the world. Hence, comments are bound to be more radical than what most people say, but they are invariably more honest.

In this, Twitter and other social media give a good understanding of what people actually feel and believe.

I must say upfront (as noted in our story on page 3), there were many tweets congratulating both sides for stepping forward and showing true leadership in meeting to supposedly overcome their differences. This was heartening.

However, the majority of responses were derogatory about us. A pervasive theme in the tweets is that the EFF came to the SAJBD for money or that the Jews were trying to win favour by giving the EFF money. In other words, they were showing Jewish people as the classic anti-Semitic stereotype so eloquently personified in Shakespeare’s Shylock figure – the money lender, the person who survives and empowers himself through money.

Interestingly, in a 2017 report titled Attitudes and Perceptions of Black South Africans towards Jewish People – conducted by the Kaplan Institute of Jewish Studies at the University of Cape Town – 20% of the respondents were found to associate Jews with these classical stereotypical, negative characteristics. I recall reading that Professor Deborah Posel was concerned about this, while others felt she might be overreacting or, as Judge Dennis Davis said at the time, “over-egging the pudding”.

However, reading these responses to the EFF’s meeting with our communal leaders, this stands out for me and it is deeply concerning and so ugly.

“Would have loved to be a fly on that wall. So how much is the Zionist Pro Apartheid members investing in @EFFSouthAfrica,” tweeted Nazeer Jamal in response to the EFF tweet.

“Julius is a sell-out,” says Petrus Samana.

“Let’s hope EFF were not bought out by the Zionist apartheid lobby…” says another.

Someone who calls himself ‘Chucky @saleemdawood’ tweeted: “To them we are Ghoyim. They regard us as lower than animals. They believe we only exist to serve them.” Really!

And when he was challenged on his views, he defends his statement by saying: “…there is plenty of evidence in this in the Talmud.”

Again, seriously?

Someone who calls himself Lt. Gen Bontu KGB tweeted: “Those deputies must go home to Tel Aviv.” Another, called SOUTH AFRICA, tweets: “Fighters, you know what Jew’s [sic] need in a country and what they do if you don’t agree with them.”

@TNchela adds: “Hope they didn’t poison my leaders. I don’t trust Jews, very cruel people.”

And, finally, Isak S @isaacshangaan says: “A bunch of racist white supremacists.”

These tweets show a genuine racial prejudice towards us and a deep lack of understanding about us. They may not know us, but they have decided who we are, what we represent and how evil we are. All this, because our communal leaders wanted to meet and thrash out issues with the EFF, and the EFF agreed to a meeting.

I know there is nothing scientific about these tweets and they may not represent a significant number of people, but they are really telling about the perceptions of people who follow @EFFSouthAfrica.

Interestingly, most of these tweets are a far cry from the common anti-Israel attacks – which were also included in the responses – that we are quite used to by now. A choice one of the anti-Israel posts claims that the SAJBD endorses “Israel’s colonisation, genocide, epistemicide [which means a systematic destruction of indigenous knowledge] and apartheid practices.”

Perhaps we are a little used to being lambasted about Israel, but no matter the iron-clad ties between Israel and us, it doesn’t feel quite as personal. This is so very personal and ugly.

Now I know there are many views about the H&M advertisement showing a young black child wearing a hoodie with the “coolest monkey in the jungle” printed on it. There are as many opinions on the EFF’s reaction to it. That was seen as racist. It is anybody’s guess as to how many of those people, who were infuriated and driven to destruction at that, are now making these racist comments about Jews. I wonder!

Shabbat Shalom!

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