Boards condemn ‘hate speech’ at protest

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies say that Palestinian supporters are using hate speech as part of their protests while the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign says it does not condone such language.

Recent protests took place at the Community Centre that is home to the Gardens Synagogue, the South African Jewish Museum, the Holocaust and Genocide Centre and Café Riteve.

“We have an abiding commitment to promote human rights and democracy by pursuing accountability for crimes and related human rights violations perpetuated against the Palestinian people through advocacy, public litigation and strategic campaigns in South Africa and extend support and solidarity to the people of Palestine,” said Usuf Chikte who is part of the PSC.

“None of the organisations I belong to encourage or allow any form of anti-semitism be it against Palestinians or Jews. We have marshals at our meetings who do intervene swiftly should any anti-Palestinianism or anti-Jewish sentiments and statements be made. We are a secular organisation consisting of people of various faiths including Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Christians and indeed people of no religious faith. We yield to no one in our adherence to and respect for the South African Constitution,” he said.

Daniel Bloch, an executive member of the SAJBD, says that the Jewish community in South Africa is not responsible for the conflict in the Middle East and says that after the second protest they approached the City of Cape Town and SAPS about the hate speech.

“This is not ‘Little Israel’, as the protestors try to portray. Any issue they have with the government of the State of Israel, should be directed to the Israeli Embassy,” said Mr Bloch, adding that this was the fourth anti-Israel protest to take place outside the Gardens Jewish Community Centre in recent weeks.

A statement from the SAJBD says that for the past two months, the Cape Town Jewish Community has been threatened, intimidated and viciously maligned by anti-Israeli organisations like the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, UCT PSF and others who claim simply to be “anti-Zionist”, not anti-semitic.

“While the Cape Board has always been happy to engage with those who differ in opinions with us, the level of hostility and aggression that was shown at this protest, including ‘one Zionist, one bullet’ and ‘Hitler should have finished the job’ does not provide context for dialogue,” he said.

Mr Chikte says that the SAJBD press statementsingles out and targets Muslims in their Islamophobic attacks as they fabricate and falsify events.

“The ongoing attacks on our campaigns to promote human rights is being led by Israeli lobbyists in South Africa including the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), which undermine campaigns against racism and bigotry by the Israeli regime with the intention of shielding Israel’s practice of apartheid against Palestinians, which is a crime against humanity, a core crime under international criminal law. It is questionable whether our law allows participation in and defence of such states,” he said.

“The cruel system of domination and systematic oppression of Palestinians by Israel is designated by several jurists and human rights groups as apartheid which is a crime against humanity. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem and Yesh Din, Al-Haq have cited Israel as practising apartheid,” he said.

Mr Bloch says they believe in a two-state solution whereby both Israelis and Palestinians can live together in peace and harmony.

“Bullying and intimidating protests will certainly not end the conflict, nor will it generate any peaceful solutions. We will not stand by idly and allow members of our community to be harassed at our places of work, home and worship. We call on local Muslim leadership and our government to stop these targeted protests at Jewish facilities,” Mr Bloch said.