Cosatu's Tony Ehrenreich Censured for Threatening Jewish Community

This week, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) unequivocally upheld a complaint against Ehrenreich lodged by the SAJBD. Ehrenreich was found guilty of prohibited hate speech, of harassment and of violating the complainants’ right both to dignity and to equality. He was directed to apologise in writing to the SAJBD and affirm his commitment to constitutional values.  

In its 26-page ruling, the SAHRC observed that even if a clear distinction had been made between the SAJBD and South African Jews in general, the statement would still have constituted a clear violation of the complainants’ rights. The language of Ehrenreich’s Facebook post in essence called for war against members of the targeted group and openly stated that they should “be murdered by their fellow South Africans in retaliation for acts taking place in another country”. This was “deeply psychologically and emotionally hurtful in terms of Section 10(a) of the Promotion of Equality and Prohibition of Unfair Discrimination Act”, and further constituted incitement to cause harm, which was prohibited under the Bill of Rights.   

SAJBD National Chairman Shaun Zagnoev believed that the ruling provided a useful addition to existing case law that helped to clarify where the boundaries lay between freedom of expression and constitutionally prohibited hate speech.

“The SAJBD welcomes the SAHRC ruling. It sends an unequivocal message that there is no justification for propagating hatred and making threats against fellow South Africans, irrespective of one’s political views (including on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict)” he said.

Zagnoev added that the SAJBD would continue to pursue cases like this to their conclusion, regardless of how long it took, in order to ensure that those who threatened or defamed the Jewish community were called to account. He noted that several other ANC Western Cape political figures had also made antisemitic statements in recent years, which the SAJBD was currently pursuing through the SAHRC. 

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The SAJBD was heartened by an email we received from Mr Solly Hattia, a member of the Muslim community.

“My experiences living amongst a Jewish community.  My first engagement with Jewish people began when the company I worked for merged with a Jewish family-owned-business and to whom I was then to report to as my new CEO.  My first encounter with my new Boss, Ronnie Norwitz, was on a Friday when he came down to my office at around 12 looked at his watch and said “Solly aren't you going to be late for your Friday prayer?”  Never before in all my years of working, had I ever had this courtesy from a boss!  His other interesting comment on my return from the Mosque was all ways, "Friday's are good days ".  Ronnie would always say this with the gesture of a clenched fist swinging his arm through the air as if he was going to hit someone.  He always greeted me with a smile and a kind word.  Braai days at work you would find him at my fire naturally. 

THE REAL PROBLEM WITH IQBAL JASSAT’S LATEST SCREED

At the biennial conference of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies Gauteng Council next week, Gauteng Jewry will have the first opportunity of engaging directly with President Ramaphosa since his assumption of the presidency earlier this year. Rather than delivering the traditional keynote address, Mr Ramaphosa will be exchanging views with eminent business leader Stephen Koseff on challenges currently facing South Africa, what the Jewish community is (or could be) doing to help address them and how each sees the future of the country and its people. In other words, it is not about what this country should be doing to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian, or any other foreign policy issue, but is framed as being a South African conversation between fellow South Africans on South African issues.