Board of Deputies under Antisemtic fire

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies represents South Africa’s Jewish community. In that capacity, Jonathan Marks in Commentary Magazine writes, it has been at the forefront of resistance to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement that is popular in that country. For doing that work, the board has been targeted, not by lone anti-Semitic lunatics but by major South African organizations.

Last year, Tony Ehrenreich, regional secretary of the Western Cape region of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), issued a press release on behalf of his group. The release declared that “if the Jewish Board of Deputies wants to advance a Zionist agenda, they should leave South Africa and go advance their agenda elsewhere.” Referring to the Gaza offensive, the release went on, “to let these funders of a war against a defenseless people act with impunity in South Africa, is against South Africa’s commitment to the people of Palestine. The Jewish Board of Deputies must be advised in no uncertain terms that if they are not part of the solution then they are part of the problem.” On his personal Facebook account, Ehrenreich went from condoning exile to condoning murder: “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.”

ASW has previously posted about the student government of the Durban University of Technology suggesting that Jewish students be expelled. The Board of Deputies has drawn attention to these incidents and others, including a Johannesburg protest, in which “nonviolent” BDS supporters shouted, among other things, “You think this is Israel, we are going to kill you!” BDS South Africa denied everything, but the Board of Deputies has video that appears to back its account up.

Now the Congress of South African Students, a national organization, has gotten into the act, complaining that the Community Security Organization (CSO), a private security agency that protects synagogues, Jewish schools, and communal events in South Africa, is an “armed” and “foreign militia.” The CSO was present at the Johannesburg protest, cooperating with local police. After lodging a variety of complaints against CSO, to whose substance I cannot speak, CSAS concludes: “Truly the SA Jewish Board of Deputies is the Jewish ISIS and threatens our sovereignty through, illegal, mercenaries, militia and invasion.” And “away with racist Jewish Deputies away!”

This post is exactly why believes so strongly  in the power of its global coverage. The community everywhere needs to know the sorts of challenges individual communities are facing in order to provide appropriate support because we must support each other. This cannot be beaten in isolation.


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