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Friday, July 7, 2017

This is a very important story that has not received the attention it deserves.

South Africa's TimesLive reported last week:
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) is standing by for an apology. This comes as the Equality Court on Thursday found that the Congress of SA Trade Unions' international relations spokesperson‚ Bongani Masuku‚ was guilty of hate speech against the Jewish community‚ the board said.

"In his judgment‚ Mr Justice Moshidi declared the impugned statements by Masuku to be 'hurtful; harmful; incite harm and propagate hatred; and amount to hate speech as envisaged in section 10 of the Equality Act 4 of 2000'‚" the board said in a statement.

Masuku and Cosatu were ordered to tender an unconditional apology to the Jewish community within 30 days of the order.

The case has its origins in a complaint lodged with the SAHRC by the SAJBD in April 2009. The complaint related to various statements made by Masuku against Jewish South Africans who supported Israel.

The remarks by Masuku deemed to be offensive included threats that Cosatu would target and cause harm to South African families who had members serving in the Israeli defence force.

"The SAJBD particularly welcomes the fact that in terms of the judgment‚ threats and insults against Jews who support Israel cannot be justified on the alleged basis that such attacks are aimed not at Jews but at ‘Zionists’.
At no point did Masuku say "Jews" - but the ruling noted that his statements were unequivocally antisemitic.

Here are some of Masuku's statements:

“As we struggle to liberate Palestine from the racists, fascists and Zionists who belong to the era of their friend Hitler, we must not apologise. Every Zionist must be made to drink the bitter medicine they are feeding our brethren and sisters in Palestine. We must target them, expose them and do all that is needed to subject them to perpetual suffering until they withdraw from the land of others and stop their savage attacks on human dignity. Every Palestinian who suffers is a direct attack on all of us. Cosatu is a tripartite alliance the ruling ANC party. A vote for the ANC is a vote for Bongani” (10.2.2009)
“Cosatu has got members here even on this campus. We can make sure that for that side it will be hell”
“The following things are going to apply : any South African family, i want to repeat it so it is clear for anyone, any South African family who sends his son or daughter to be part of the IDF must not blame us when something happens to them with immediate effect” (5.3.2009 PSC rally at Wits University)
“Cosatu is with you, we will do everything to make sure whether it is at Wits, whether it is at Orange Grove, anyone who does not support equality and dignity, who does not support the rights of other people must face the consequences even if it means that we will do something that may necessarily cause what is regarded as harm”

This article delves into the details:
Masuku contended his remarks were not hate speech. He was referring to Zionists not Jews, he said; a distinction which in this context the judge was later to describe as having “no merit at all”. His comments were intended only as criticism of Zionism and Israel and were either true or fair comment and thus protected free speech.
The judge ruled that the ‘impugned statements’ were “offensive and targeted at the Jewish community”. Note that this judgment was arrived at despite Masuku not even mentioning Jews specifically.
References by Masuku to “Wits” (a campus with a significant Jewish population) and “Orange Grove” (a predominantly Jewish area) also constituted hate speech again despite the word Jews not being mentioned.
The defence that the comments were true and/or fair comment had “no merit at all” and that Masuku’s stated intentions behind the remarks were “wholly irrelevant” and that these comments were “unequivocally a reference to Jews”.
The judge went on to conclude that what was done by Masuku was “to instill detestation, enmity, ill will and malevolence towards Jews in South Africa. It is distinct advocacy of hatred – nothing else”. Powerful stuff!
And finally for good measure… “the bottom line… objectively assessed… must readily be understood to be concerning Jews” and that the argument advanced on behalf of Masuku “that the statements have nothing to do with Jewish people… is without credence”.
It doesn't take much to realize that there is little difference between what Masuku said and what one can read in anti-Israel sites like Electronic Intifada and Mondoweiss  every day.

(h/t SpotlightingSA)

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