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SA Organisations

Fighting scourge of anti-Semitism at all levels

  • 2a-Mary Kluk tightcrop
A major focus of the 2008 Global Forum to Combat Anti-Semitism (GFCA) was to confront the escalating phenomenon of anti-Semitism in the social media. In a report presented on that occasion, this was defined as “the use of online social networking and content collaboration to share demonisation, conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial and classical anti-Semitic motifs with a view to creating social acceptability for such content”.
by MARY KLUK | May 20, 2015

Since then, the problem has only got bigger, making it all the more imperative for world Jewry to devise effective collaborative strategies to deal with it.

SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn and Cape Council Chairman Eric Marx were among the many international Jewish leaders and communal professionals who participated at this year’s GFCA in Jerusalem last week.

Kluk Mary MadibaConfronting cyber-hate was again a major part of the agenda, with experts in the field providing valuable insights into the workings of the social media and how it is being exploited by racists and extremists. The importance of constantly monitoring online anti-Semitism was emphasised, as was the need for effective counter-narratives to be devised.

In South Africa, one of the mechanisms through which cyber-hate can be addressed is the SA Human Rights Commission. The Board has lodged many hate speech-related complaints with the SAHRC over the years.

The adjudication process is unavoidably a lengthy one, given the many complaints that body must deal with and the strict guidelines it needs to follow to ensure that all parties to a dispute are given a fair hearing.

That being accepted, we have recorded a number of successful outcomes, most recently this week, when an individual who earlier this year posted threatening comments on his Facebook tended a written apology and confirmed that he had removed the offending material. Hopefully, having been thus publicly called to account, he will desist from posting such material in future.

The importance of rulings like this is that it sends out a message to tweeters and bloggers everywhere that having a social media platform does not give them the freedom to propagate hatred with impunity.

We have another of other, similar, cases pending with the SAHRC, and as ever remain committed to leaving no stone unturned until we achieve what we regard as a satisfactory outcome.

Once upon a time, anyone wishing to distribute anti-Semitic propaganda would have to produce and print his own pamphlets and thereafter laboriously proceed from one mailbox to the next to distribute them.

Today, it has become frighteningly easy, and inexpensive, for anyone with access to a mobile phone to do so. As a result, the sheer volume of what is out there makes it impossible for Jewish organisations, no matter how well resourced, to adequately monitor what is happening. For that, we are reliant on individual members of our own community to be our eyes and ears and pass on to us all cases of online anti-Semitism that come to their attention.      

This Motzai Shabbat, Jews everywhere will be observing Shavuot, whose central theme is commemorating the giving of the Torah. As we prepare to mark this epochal event through the age-old Jewish tradition of coming together to learn, I wish all our community a Chag Sameach.

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

1 Comment

  1. 1 nat cheiman 20 May
    Isn't it amazing that people such as George Galloway and David Irving (to name a few educated individuals) have an impaired view of Jews and Israel. Apart from radical Islam, many muslims too are taught in some madrassahs about the evil of Judaism.
    Unfortunately jews will live with this forever and a day.
    There are many Christians, Hindus, agnostics etc etc that do not believe the propaganda spewed out about Israel and Palestine. After all, it takes a little intelligence to understand that Jews don't strap bombs to their vests, nor do they send their tiny kids to throw stones at jews. These are simple observations that anyone with intelligence can understand.
    BDS is a prime example of jew haters and a non caring attitude toward all south Africans. They don't care how many people lose their jobs because of boycotts. Its about hatred and not equity for Palestinians. 

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