NEWS & ANALYSIS

The Jewish community will not be intimidated by COSATU – SAJBD

Board of Deputies says federation's actions show they don't see the Jewish community as truly part of SA

The Jewish community will not be intimidated by COSATU

4 April 2019

On Friday, COSATU’s Western Cape branch will hold an anti-Israel demonstration outside the offices of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) in Cape Town. Their stated purpose is to demand that the Jewish community cease supporting Israel and instead “play a role in changing the situation” there.

COSATU is well aware that the SAJBD represents South African Jews, not the Israeli government. Despite this, they have singled it out for aggressive protest action. This shows yet again that they believe South African Jews to be answerable for the actions of a foreign state and as being collectively guilty of what their co-religionists elsewhere in the world are supposedly doing. This is clearly racist.

COSATU’s actions also show that they do not see the Jewish community as being truly part of South Africa. Rather, they treat it as it were an alien element whose true loyalties lie elsewhere. COSATU’s deputy international relations secretary Zanele Mathebula this week even made the grossly false claim that “most South Africans who are Jewish have dual citizenship”. This too is racist. It brings to mind the classic antisemitic smear that Jews care only for themselves and are disloyal to the countries in which their live.

COSATU have a long and dishonourable record of threatening, baiting, maligning and insulting the Jewish community and its leadership. This has included calls for Jews to be killed in retaliation for Palestinian deaths, and for boycotting Jewish businesses. Two high-ranking COSATU leaders have been found guilty of antisemitic hate speech by the SA Human Rights Commission. For COSATU, defaming and demonizing the State of Israel is not enough; they also wish to bully and intimidate Jews into endorsing their bigoted agenda against the Jewish state.

COSATU’s attempts to intimidate the South African Jewish community will not work. As loyal citizens of a constitutional democracy, we will not allow any organisation to dictate to us what we can and cannot say, nor what opinions or beliefs we are supposed to hold.  

At this difficult and uncertain time in our country’s history, the SAJBD calls on COSATU to focus its efforts on overcoming the many pressing challenges that South Africa faces, rather than on bringing foreign conflicts to our streets and thereby sowing even more division and ill-feeling in our society.

Issued by Charisse Zeifert, Head of Communications, South African Jewish Board of Deputies, 4 April 2019