The Jewish Report Editorial

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

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How hard is it to apologise? I keep asking myself why Cosatu’s Bongani Masuku won’t just say he is sorry for the anti-Semitic vitriol he spewed out over Jewish students on Wits campus more than eight years ago? What he said was so ugly, I don’t believe anyone could really be surprised that he has been ordered to apologise by a court of law.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Jul 13, 2017

He threatened to mobilise Cosatu on campus to make the “Zionists’” life there “hell”. He also threatened violence against families whose children had made aliyah and were serving in the Israeli Defence Forces. He went on to threaten to harm people in Orange Grove - where he believes many Jewish people lived - who disagreed with him about Israel.

The Human Rights Commission in 2009 - the same year this happened - ordered Masuku, Cosatu’s international relations spokesman, to apologise. He didn’t. He is still refusing after Judge Dimpheletse Moshidi, on behalf of the Equality Court, ordered him to apologise this week. 

All he has to do is say sorry. He doesn’t have to prostrate himself. He doesn’t have to sit in prison. He doesn’t have to have lessons in the Holocaust or do community service, like cleaning Great Park Shul.

He doesn’t have to do anything difficult at all - just say sorry.

He doesn't even have to mean it. There is nothing stopping him continuing to have his views on Israel and Jewish people. That is his choice. 

He already has to pay costs for both sides in the Equality Court case, which included the cost of bringing at least one expensive expert out from England. That wasn’t cheap.

But no, instead of apologising - which he was supposed to do by today (Friday) - he and Cosatu are threatening to appeal the judgment. I guess they don’t mind spending more of their hard-earned members’ money to avoid apologising to us.

It wasn’t a Jewish tribunal who tried him - it was a judge who found according to our Constitution that what he uttered was racist and anti-Semitic hate speech - nothing less.

So, by refusing to apologise, he is not defying us, he is defying our very Constitution. Is it really worth it? To prove what?  

On the issue of resolutely refusing to apologise, I cannot ignore the issue of Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked who we wrote about last week after he stood up and called Israel intolerant of religions at the opening of the ANC Policy Conference. 

I imagined that once he saw how what he said had impacted on the community - particularly the Progressive Jews in South Africa - he would have simply apologised for speaking out of context and to that particular audience.

However, I understand that Rabbi Shaked was and still is resolute and unapologetic. In fact, on social media, he has been lambasting and badmouthing other Progressive Jewish leaders who didn’t approve of what he did.  We have had an unprecedented influx of letters for and against his actions.

It appears to me that, sometimes, it is better to apologise and not cause divisions and further unnecessary ructions. And if apologies are too difficult, not exacerbating this issue, would be preferable.

As in the Elton John song back in the 1970s: “It’s sad, so sad, it’s a sad, sad situation and it is getting more and more absurd… Sorry seems to be the hardest word.”

Shabbat Shalom!




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