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S. African Jews urge ‘yarmulke protest’ against anti-Semitism

After three Jewish teenagers assaulted in Johannesburg, community asks citizens to wear head covering to the movies

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: An Israeli man with a yarmulke- kippa featuring a Star of David at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, September 10, 2012. (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch /Flash90)
Illustrative: An Israeli man with a yarmulke- kippa featuring a Star of David at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, September 10, 2012. (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch /Flash90)

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies on Tuesday urged citizens to demonstrate against anti-Semitism by wearing yarmulkes to their local cinemas, in the style of Orthodox Jews, this coming weekend.

The show of unity was called after three Jewish teenagers were physically and verbally assaulted at a Johannesburg shopping mall on Saturday night.

According to the SAJBD the three victims, who were all wearing yarmulkes — traditional Jewish head coverings — had gone to The Zone in Rosebank when they were accosted by three men, who were described as Indian South Africans. As one of the men punched one of the teens, another attacker shouted: “You fucking Jew” and “Your fucking people are killing our innocent children.”

Charges were filed against the three assailants. The SAJBD said it had obtained security camera footage of the incident that would be used to bring the men to trial.

Yarmulkes for sale in Tel Aviv via Shutterstock.

“The SA Jewish community hopes that this incident was an isolated one,” the Jewish organization said in a statement. “Unlike many other parts of the world, Jews in South Africa have always been able to freely identify as such in public spaces without fear of being victimized. We are determined to do everything that we can, to ensure that this continues.

“We therefore call on South Africans, Jewish or not, to attend a film-screening at a cinema of your choice this Saturday night (28 March), wearing a kippah [yarmulke] or hat,” the statement continued. “In this way we will demonstrate our commitment to fight against any form of prejudice and intimidation. As proud South African citizens our freedom of movement, religion and association are guaranteed by our Constitution.”

Last week, students at a South African university awoke to images of Adolf Hitler and swastikas plastered over buildings on campus.

The large posters depicting the Nazi leader were prominently featured at the University of Cape Town, and were quickly taken down.

The offenders were said to have put up the images in order to protest a nearby statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes, so that “Jews could understand… the struggles of the black child” and the offense black students take to seeing the statue of a man “just as bad as Hitler,” according to a statement released by the South African Union of Jewish Students.

The South African Union of Jewish Students condemned the placards and demanded disciplinary proceedings be brought against the culprits.

Rhodes, who served as prime minister of the Cape Colony in the 19th century, is widely scorned by black students for his historical discrimination and exploitation of blacks in the province during the colonial era.

Avi Lewis contributed to this report.

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