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S. African lawmaker rues perception from remarks seen as anti-Semitic

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa (JTA) — South African lawmaker Marius Fransman apologized for “the perception that was created” by remarks he made that were characterized as anti-Semitic.

Fransman told the Cape Times on Monday that he was sorry  “for the perception that was created that I was singling out the Jewish community” in last week’s remarks, adding he did not feel the comments were anti-Semitic.

Fellow ANC lawmaker Ben Turok filed a complaint with the party against Fransman,  the deputy minister for international relations and cooperation as well as the party’s  Western Cape chairman, calling the remarks  made alst week “anti-Semitic,” according to the daily Cape Times.

Turok, who heads Parliament’s ethics committee, told Cape Talk radio in an interview on Tuesday that he accepted the apology, but it was up to the party to decide whether to go ahead with disciplinary measures or not.”

At a meeting of the Cape Town Press Club, Fransman, addressing the topic of land ownership in the city, had said, according to a Sapa report: “The reality is … 98 percent … of the landowners and property owners actually is the white community and, in particular, also people in the Jewish community.”

Turok, who co-authored the liberation movement’s Freedom Charter — the 1955 document designed to give all South Africans equal rights — said Fransman’s statement was damaging and divisive, and that it was unacceptable to identify people or ownership along ethnic lines for no reason.

It was the second official complaint of anti-Semitism against Fransman. In February, he said in an interview on the Muslim radio station Voice of the Cape that building contracts had been taken from Muslim businesses by the opposition Democratic Alliance-ruled Western Cape government and awarded to Jewish businessmen.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies took Fransman to the South African Human Rights Commission over the earlier remark, with Fransman initially demanding a public apology from the board for “misleading the people.”

The parties are involved in a mediation process over the February remark. At the time, the board said Fransman’s motive was to attract votes for the country’s national elections to be held next year.

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