South African Jews sue local politician

Jewish community of South Africa files lawsuit against local politician over offensive tweets about the Holocaust.

Ben Ariel ,

Flag of South Africa
Flag of South Africa

The Jewish community of South Africa has filed a lawsuit against a local politician over offensive tweets about the Holocaust‚ the South African Times reported on Tuesday.

Black First Land First leader Andile Mgxitama tweeted last month, “For those claiming the legacy of the holocaust is ONLY negative think about the lampshades and Jewish soap.”

Later in the day he allegedly followed up with another tweet about “the aroma of the burning flesh from the furnace of the holocaust may wet (sic) the appetite of the SA cannibals”.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has filed papers in the Equality Court arguing that Mngxitama was in violation of the Equality Act which prohibits the publication or propagation of hate speech.

They are asking that he either be required to undergo sensitivity training or pay a fine.

“Mr. Mngxitama has engaged in conduct that amounts to hate speech against the South African Jewish community‚ and Jewish people in general‚” SAJBF National Director Wendy Kahn said in an affidavit quoted by South African Times.

“Such comments create an environment within which racist and hateful attitudes are allowed to flourish and a hostile and intimidating environment is created for persons at whom the racist commentary is directed‚” she added.

Kahn said that Mngxitama’s comments dehumanize Jewish people and are hurtful because they “depict atrocities visited upon Jewish people as something to be mocked and joked about”.

She has asked the court to direct Mngxitama to issue an unconditional apology‚ acknowledging the harmfulness of his tweets. She has also requested that the court order Mngxitama to participate in an education program at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.

If Mngxitama does not complete the course within three months he should be made to pay a R150‚000 fine to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, said Kahn.

Anti-Israel sentiments remain prevalent in South Africa, where the ruling the African National Congress (ANC) party recently called for the downgrading of the South African Embassy in Israel due to what it said was the “lack of commitment from Israel on Palestine.”

The government in South Africa has frequently accused Israel of applying a policy of “apartheid” towards Palestinian Arabs. One such example was when the ANC party proposed new rules regarding dual citizenship meant to stop South African citizens from joining the IDF.

In another example, the county’s Foreign Minister slammed Israel's plans to build new homes in Jerusalem, saying she was “losing sleep” over the size of “Palestine”.