Cosatu man guilty of hate speech
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
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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.