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Ehrenreich unapologetic over Israel ‘human rights violations’

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Sep 19, 2018

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Defiant former Cosatu Western Cape provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich says he will not apologise to the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) over calling for revenge attacks for Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.

Ehrenreich yesterday told Independent Media he was still not prepared to apologise until the board showed remorse for the atrocities committed against Palestinians in Gaza.

Last week, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) found Ehrenreich guilty of using prohibited hate speech and of harassment for the 2014 Facebook post.

He was also censured for violating the board’s right to dignity and to equality, according to the board.

But Ehrenreich said although the SAHRC had met him it had not organised a joint meeting with the board.

“Does it mean that the commission supports the violation of human rights?” asked Ehrenreich.

Board national chairperson Shaun Zagnoev said the ruling provided a useful addition to existing case law that helped clarify where the boundaries were between freedom of expression and constitutionally prohibited hate speech.

“The board welcomes the SAHRC ruling. It sends an unequivocal message that there is no justification for propagating hatred and making threats against fellow South Africans, irrespective of one’s political views (including on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict),” he said.

According to Zagnoev, the board would continue to pursue cases like Ehrenreich’s to their conclusion regardless of how long they took in order to ensure that those who threatened or defamed Jewish people were called to account.

He said several other ANC Western Cape political figures had also made anti-Semitic remarks in recent years and the board was pursuing action through the SAHRC.

President Cyril Ramaphosa this week addressed Jewish people in Cape Town during Rosh Hashanah (New Year) celebrations.

He was grilled on the resolution taken at the ANC’s national conference in December to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel to a liaison office.

“In order to give our practical expression of support to the oppressed people of Palestine, the ANC has unanimously resolved to direct the South African government to immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African embassy in Israel to a liaison office,” stated the resolution unanimously adopted at the Nasrec gathering.

In July last year, another top Cosatu official was found guilty of making hurtful, harmful statements, inciting harm and propagating hatred towards Jewish people.

The federation’s international relations secretary, Bongani Masuku, was ordered to tender an unconditional apology to Jewish people within 30 days of a High Court order by Judge Seun Moshidi or within a period agreed on by the board and Cosatu.

Judge Moshidi also ordered that the apology must at least receive the same publicity as Masuku’s offending utterences at Wits University in 2009.

The Saturday Star

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