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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Cosatu's Tony Ehrenreich Censured for Threatening Jewish Community

On 13 August 2014, then Western Cape Cosatu chairman Tony Ehrenreich posted a comment on Facebook calling for revenge attacks against the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and other “Zionist supporters” in retaliation for the deaths of Palestinian civilians. Amongst other inflammatory comments, he wrote, “The time has come to say very clearly that if a woman or child is killed in Gaza, then the Jewish board of deputies, who are complicit, will feel the wrath of the People of SA with the age old biblical teaching of an eye for an eye”.  

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Have you heard the joke where a Jew, an Afrikaner and an Indian walk into a Shebeen? It sounds like the kind of “witty” yarn that EFF leader Julius Malema would spin. Oh, wait, actually, he has already told tales about different minorities – singling them out for abuse. Most recently, he “cleverly” managed to insult two minority groups at the same time, when he said: “There’s a group of white right-wingers (read Afrikaners) who are being trained by Jews in Pretoria to be snipers.” (sic)

Jewish Affairs Rosh Hashanah 2018

We are pleased to announce that the Rosh Hashanah 2018 issue of Jewish Affairs has been posted on our website. The printed version will be sent to subscribers shortly. As always, we ask that you assist us in widening the reach of the journal by forwarding this message to anyone who may be interested.

In May this year, the State of Israel celebrated its 70th anniversary. To mark that memorable milestone, the Rosh Hashanah 2018 issue of Jewish Affairs is devoted almost entirely to the subject of Israel, and in particular to the noteworthy role that South African Jews played in its birth and early struggle for survival. The editorial board thanks all those who responded to its invitation to contribute their own memories and perspectives for this special JA issue.