CAPE TOWN (JTA) — A South African Jewish group said it would file charges for alleged hate speech against a trade union leader who accused it of complicity in murder in Gaza.
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies, or SAJBD, decided to take legal steps against Tony Ehrenreich, provincial secretary of trade union umbrella body COSATU, after he wrote about the group on Facebook Wednesday.
“The time has come to say very clearly that if a woman or child is killed in Gaza, then the Jewish board of deputies, who are complicit, will feel the wrath of the People of SA with the age old biblical teaching of an eye for an eye,” he wrote. “The time has come for the conflict to be waged everywhere the Zionist supporters fund and condone the war killing machine of Israel.”
The board said it was instituting criminal and civil charges against Ehrenreich for alleged hate speech and incitement to violence against the community’s representative body.
In a media statement issued Thursday, SAJBD chairman Mary Kluk said the post was “a flagrant violation of South African law prohibiting hate speech and incitement to cause harm” and inflamed “an already volatile situation.”
Ehrenreich said that he stood by his statement, that he was not anti-Semitic and was not calling for violence against Jews, the daily Cape Times reported. His focus was on the SAJBD for what he described as condoning violence against the Palestinians.
“The killings in Gaza by the Israeli army have never been condemned by the Jewish Board of Deputies,” he said, adding he was laying charges against it “for supporting crimes against humanity in Gaza.”
The Facebook post comes in the wake of another statement by Ehrenreich warning the SAJBD to cease its “Zionist propaganda” in Cape Town by Aug. 7 or face a COSATU-led campaign of strikes and boycotts against its members, supporting companies and organizations.
“It is unprecedented in a democracy for a political lobby to threaten violent reprisals against the SAJBD, or against any individual or group for that matter,” Kluk said.