South African Jews file police complaint against 3 for ‘gross anti-Semitism’

Community leader says attacks, threats becoming increasingly inflammatory, warns prevalent anti-Israel sentiment is spilling over into racist slurs against Jews

A German flag with Nazi swastika graffitied on a wall in Johannesburg, South Africa, on June 20, 2018. (South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies)
A German flag with Nazi swastika graffitied on a wall in Johannesburg, South Africa, on June 20, 2018. (South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies)

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies on Thursday filed a police complaint against three individuals they say contributed to a recent uptick in anti-Semitic attacks and threats against Jews in the country.

The Jewish umbrella group said in a statement it reported Muhammad Hattia, Tameez Seedat and Matome Letsoalo to the Sandton Police for the “grossly anti-Semitic” comments they made earlier this month.

According to the SAJBD, Letsoalo earlier this month tweeted that “[The] #Holocaust Will be like A Picnic When we are done with all you Zionist Bastards. F**k All Of You.” In another, he branded Jews vermin that Hitler should have exterminated entirely.

Those statements and others were posted in a WhatsApp group chat dedicated to buying and selling shoes. When the group’s administrator instructed an end to such comments, Hattia wrote: ““F*ck you jew pricks. Fat nosed f*cks…I hope you and your family die. Hitler f*cked up he should’ve killed you all.”

Seedat later chimed in, “You f**ken Jew/Zionist will see your time coming. Make our fellow brothers and sisters suffer, but what you don’t understand is that worse will be coming your way.”

Chairman Shaun Zagnoev said SAJBD decided to file an official police complaint due to the “unusually virulent and overtly threatening nature” of the comments. In a SAJBD statement from earlier in June, he warned that South African Jews were increasingly being called “scum,” “rats,” “bastards,” “pigs” and “swine.”

While anti-Semitism in South Africa is not uncommon, Zagnoev said the latest comments were far more inflammatory than usual, and attributed the rise in anti-Semitism to the strong anti-Israel sentiment expressed publicly in the country.

Last week, a group of Israelis were confronted by an anti-Semitic rant upon arrival at OR Tambo International Airport outside Johannesburg. The man was filmed yelling “Jews are wicked” at a group of religious travelers while they waited for their luggage.

Elsewhere in Johannesburg, a German flag with a swastika was painted on a wall in Hamilton Street, Coronationville.

Also last week, well-known model Shashi Naidoo was pressured by the BDS movement into apologizing for a Facebook post defending Israel’s response to the flareup in violence along the Gaza border after receiving numerous death threats.

“You people are wicked. Jews are wicked people, very wicked people.” Just landed on the El Al Flight From Tel Aviv this morning at OR Tambo International and this is what we get upon walking into the airport ! It’s time to make Aliyah !!!

Posted by Dylan Rendel on Wednesday, June 20, 2018

After a visibly shaken Naidoo issued the apology, Zagnoev linked the recent spike in anti-Semitic comments to her “very public humiliation” and “re-education” for expressing her support for Israel.

“It would appear that those who support Israel are now ‘legitimate’ targets for attacks,” he said.

Last month, South Africa’s ruling party slammed Israel’s recent actions at the Gaza border, comparing the IDF’s efforts to prevent Palestinian protesters from breaching the border fence with Nazi Germany’s cruelty against Jews.

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