Cosas shows the worst anti-Semitic face

  • 2a-Mary Kluk tightcrop
Every day brings both inspiration and challenges. The task of any Jewish communal leader is to combine celebrating and building upon the good with confronting anything that arises to threaten our wellbeing. For our community, both the good and the bad have been in evidence this past week.
by MARY KLUK | Oct 30, 2014

Even as we were preparing to take part in the inspiring Shabbos Project, we were confronted with the news that the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) in the Western Cape had deposited the head of a pig in a Woolworths store in Cape Town, and that this act was explicitly aimed at sending a message to South African Jewry. Much of the Board’s work this week has involved responding to this outrageous demonstration.

In the days leading up to the Shabbos Project and following it, I have been inundated with messages from friends across the globe describing the enthusiasm this has generated in their particular communities. This has been from the outset an unequivocally “Made in South Africa” export, one that has brought countless Jews together in a very special way.

In my replies to all my correspondents, I have made sure of including the “Proudly South Africa” hash tag. Whatever hostile fringe elements exist in this country, South Africa remains a place where the Jewish religion and culture as able to thrive, while at the same time allowing Jews to fully participate in and identify with the broader national ethos.   

The action by Cosas, by contrast, flew diametrically in the face of everything our young democracy stands for. Ostensibly framed as a protest against Woolworths for stocking Israeli produce, it took a blatantly anti-Semitic form, both in terms of the hateful nature of the symbol used and in the media release that was subsequently issued.

In our own media release, we stated that Cosas’ actions had nothing to do with human rights activism, but were aimed instead at causing maximum offence to Jewish people. In declaring that it would “not allow people who will not eat pork to pretend that they are eating clean meat, when it is sold by hands dripping with the blood of Palestinian children”, Cosas had made it all too clear to whom their message was directed.

We have since lodged a formal complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission against Cosas for its blatant contravention of our community’s constitutional right to dignity and equality.

Two days prior to the Cosas demo, the Board took the lead in organising a media breakfast meeting of the Hate Crimes Working Group. We are proud to be founding and executive members of this body, which deals with issues affecting the whole of South African society, regardless of race, creed, religion or any other factor that could make someone vulnerable to being the victim of a hate crime.

It is through building partnerships like this that we can better fulfil our mandate to uphold the civil right of South African Jewry, while at the same time contributing, as Jews, to building a society where all South Africans are protected from the evils of bigotry and hatred.


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




  1. 2 Jon Swerd 31 Oct
    I am not surprised one little bit.The left, the right and the centre of politics world wide have always been anti semitic.
    In every generation anti semitism rears its ugly head and we live in cloud coockoo land if we think otherwise.
    We must respond to it as best as possible with all our power yet remain vigilant that it is always dormant and therefor apt to happen at any moment
    The return to OUR Homeland is our best response
  2. 1 Choni 31 Oct
    Jon Swerd, Oh Mein, V'Oh Mein to you last line. It is not only the best response but the ONLY response.


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