LET­TERS

Cosatu man guilty of hate speech

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Wendy Kahn

ON June 29, in the Equal­ity Court in the South Gauteng High Court, Judge Seun Moshidi handed down his judg­ment in the mat­ter of the SA Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion and Cosatu spokesper­son Bon­gani Ma­suku. The case re­volved around var­i­ous in­flam­ma­tory and of­fen­sive state­ments made by Ma­suku against the Jewish com­mu­nity in 2009. Judge Moshidi con­cluded th­ese state­ments con­sti­tuted hate speech and he should apol­o­gise to the Jewish com­mu­nity.

The rel­e­vant com­ments by Ma­suku were made in the con­text of an ad­dress de­liv­ered to Wits Uni­ver­sity in March 2009, held in the course of what the Boy­cott Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) move­ment has la­belled “Is­rael Apartheid Week” (IAW).

Ma­suku, in­vited by the Pales­tinian Sol­i­dar­ity Com­mis­sion, pro­ceeded to threaten Jewish stu­dents in the room, as well as mak­ing threats against the main­stream Jewish com­mu­nity. His tirade in­cluded warn­ing that Cosatu “had mem­bers here even on cam­pus; we can make sure that for that side it will be hell”, that his move­ment would “tar­get and cause harm to South African fam­i­lies who had mem­bers serv­ing in the Is­raeli de­fence force, that Cosatu would come to Jewish ar­eas and do what was “re­garded as harm” and that Jews who con­tin­ued to stand up for Is­rael should “not just be en­cour­aged but forced to leave South Africa”.

Ma­suku’s ad­dress was a clas­sic case of a speaker us­ing an anti-Is­rael plat­form to spew ha­tred against Jews in gen­eral. Through­out the court case, he disin­gen­u­ously tried to de­fend him­self by claim­ing that his threats were against Zion­ists and not Jews, but it was ob­vi­ous to any­one in the room that his vitriol was tar­geted at those with kip­pot (Jewish re­li­gious head cov­er­ings) or wear­ing SA Union of Jewish Stu­dents shirts.

Pro­fes­sor Gre­gory Stan­ton, a geno­cide ex­pert who tes­ti­fied dur­ing the trial, said, “we all know when you say Zion­ist you mean Jew, just like in Rwanda in the mid-1990s, when you said cock­roach, ev­ery­one knew you were re­fer­ring to the Tut­sis”. Judge Moshidi was clearly unim­pressed by the “not Jews, only Zion­ists” ploy.

This judg­ment rep­re­sents a clear vin­di­ca­tion for a com­mu­nity that has long been plagued by naked ha­tred by groups pur­port­ing to rep­re­sent Pales­tinian sol­i­dar­ity when in truth their aim is to de­fame, in­tim­i­date and si­lence the Jewish com­mu­nity and, in­deed, any­one who chal­lenges their rad­i­cal anti-Is­rael nar­ra­tive.

Ev­ery year since then, Jewish stu­dents on uni­ver­sity cam­puses in South Africa, and glob­ally, have ex­pe­ri­enced sim­i­lar dis­plays of bla­tant ha­tred.

This year saw a Wits stu­dent mas­querad­ing and salut­ing like Hitler, and Jewish stu­dents be­ing told: “The rea­son why peo­ple want to kill Jews is be­cause they don’t be­have when they are in other peo­ple’s coun­tries.”

Dur­ing IAW, Jewish stu­dents on cam­pus have been called “f***ing Jews” and at protests dur­ing the week told to “Go back to your land. Go to Is­rael. Voet­sek. We will kill you”.

The hate Ma­suku un­leashed on the Wits cam­pus has steadily es­ca­lated and now typ­i­fies the ugly, men­ac­ing treat­ment meted out to Jewish stu­dents.

They have be­come tar­gets of the BDS IAW cam­paign, a “po­lit­i­cally cor­rect” an­nual plat­form they have cre­ated to spew in­vec­tive and threats against Jewish stu­dents when­ever its mem­bers pre­sume to counter their pro­pa­ganda.

In the room where Ma­suku made his com­ments was BDS co-or­di­na­tor Muhammed De­sai, who later jus­ti­fied the singing by BDS pro­test­ers of Dubula e Juda (Shoot the Jew) at Wits in 2013.

But no longer. Judge Moshidi has called Ma­suku’s state­ments what they are, “hurt­ful, harm­ful, in­cite harm and prop­a­gate ha­tred, and amount to hate speech”.

It is to be hoped that this im­por­tant judg­ment will send a clear mes­sage to BDS ac­tivists in our coun­try and around the world that it is un­ac­cept­able to use their anti-Is­rael views and be­liefs to threaten and de­fame Jews ev­ery­where. It is time to see th­ese ac­tivists for what they are.

They are not look­ing to bring about a res­o­lu­tion to the Pales­tinian-Is­raeli con­flict, but rather to find a “so­cially ac­cept­able” man­ner in which to pack­age their fes­ter­ing anti-semitism.

This im­por­tant judg­ment will send a clear mes­sage to BDS

Na­tional di­rec­tor of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies

WRITE TO US

IN­TOL­ER­ANCE: Ev­ery year since then, Jewish stu­dents on uni­ver­sity cam­puses have ex­pe­ri­enced sim­i­lar dis­plays of bla­tant ha­tred. This year saw a Wits stu­dent mas­querad­ing and salut­ing like Hitler, says the writer.

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