The scourge of anti-Semitism is once again upon us. Jewish students are being targeted on university campuses and Jews in many countries are afraid to openly reveal their Jewishness. Thankfully Jews in South Africa have not felt, nor experienced the blatant anti-Semitism found in Europe. But if the BDS has its way this will rapidly change. Not large in number, but aided and abetted by our media, the BDS has become very vocal in South Africa.
Vocal is good, vibrant debate even better and criticism of any government, including that of Israel, is welcomed. But when this criticism reaches levels of malevolent untruths couched in deeply emotive imagery then it becomes nothing more than hate-speech.
Such was a recent opinion piece in the Mail and Guardian, a much read South African weekly newspaper, written by Dudu Masango-Mahlangu, a Board Member of the BDS South Africa. In it Masango-Mahlangu insidiously equates Jews in the Holocaust to the citizens in Gaza today. In so doing he displays not only total ignorance but also profound wickedness. Using language that has developed only as a result of the hatred and oppression of Jews – ghettos and concentration camps – he implies that Jews are the Nazis, and the Gazan citizens the innocent Jews. The victims of old have become not only oppressors, but oppressors who, like the Nazis, slaughter their victims with impunity.
Views and statements, such as these, are taken at face-value by the uninformed. Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people and is perceived by many as a proxy for Jews. To assert that Israel is behaving in a way comparable with those who committed the most abominable crimes ever is in actual fact saying that Jews are capable of such behaviour. Notwithstanding the fact that such comparisons have not even a smidgen of truth, they validate hatred and hostility towards Jews.
Was Masango-Mahlangu referring to Jews or merely Israel when he drew these comparisons? The BDS has always claimed that it is not anti-Semitic. Ironic really, when at a concert at Wits University, members of the BDS chanted “dubula i-juda” (“shoot the Jew”). Ironic, when it is its members who advocate the cessation of Israel as a Jewish state. They question the legitimacy of no other country in the world – merely that of the one country belonging to the Jews. The link drawn by Masango-Mahlangu between Jews, the Holocaust and Israel seems, therefore, to be not accidental. But rather, a reaffirmation that at the root of BDS ‘pro-Palestinianism’ is primal Jew -hatred. Instead of building bridges, the BDS is forging ravines between South Africans.