To a great extent, the problem is being fuelled by toxic discourse in the social media combined with inflammatory statements by public representatives. Falling into both categories were the threatening and abusive comments made against the SAJBD, and also against any community members who oppose his radical anti-Israel views, by then Cosatu Western Cape chairman Tony Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich was directed by the SAHRC to furnish the SAJBD with a written apology for his comments, but when this was finally forthcoming, it turned out to be a brazen attempt on his part to justify his unacceptable conduct, in part through repeating his calumnies against the SAJBD, and we had no hesitation in rejecting it. Our right to publicly speak out on Israel’s behalf without being subjected to the kind of threats and vicious abuse that Ehrenreich has been guilty of is non-negotiable, and we have no intention of being fobbed off by a back-handed ‘apology’ that in reality merely repeats the original offence. We will continue to pursue the matter with the SAHRC until it has been brought to a satisfactory conclusion.
Congratulations to new SAZF leadership
Together with many of my SAJBD colleagues, I attended the SAZF conference over the weekend. I congratulate Rowan Polovin on his election as national chairman together with all the other new office bearers and wish them every success in taking this venerable communal organisation forward over the next four years. Rowan served with distinction as chairman of the Western Province regional branch, and in recent years the Board has worked closely with him in addressing a number of issues of common concern to our respective organisations. We were further delighted that Benji Shulman was presented with a special award at the conference for his multiple services to the local Zionist cause. The Board’s association with Benji goes back over ten years, when he was chairman of SAUJS, and since then we have regularly worked with him, most notably in the hate speech case against Cosatu’s Bongani Masuku. Benji was our main witness in the case when it came before the Equality Court, and acquitted himself with the same courage and quiet dignity that he had shown when, often under exceptionally difficult circumstances he represented our Jewish students on campus. We congratulate him on this well-deserved acknowledgement of everything he has given to our community.
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