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“Eye for an Eye” – Internet hate speech can lead to acts of violence

As a Jew, and grandchild of Auschwitz Holocaust survivors, I was left saddened and outraged by the comments made by Tony Ehrenreich last week. Ehrenreich has not only demonstrated an embarrassing naivety of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, but as a supposed political “leader”, he has acted with a worrying degree of recklessness.

It is obviously heart-breaking to see innocent civilians and young children caught up in this vicious conflict. It is easy to sit back and attribute the blame to the big powerful government and army of Israel, but the real truth is that Hamas is the one that is solely responsible for the tragedy that has befallen these innocent victims.

Hamas is an internationally recognised terrorist organization who does not want to live in peace. Its aggressive agenda calls for the “killing of Jews and Israeli citizens” and “the complete destruction of the State of Israel”. Ehrenreich’s comments, for which he has now gained notoriety, lead me to believe he would be more suited to a leadership role in the Hamas Politburo – spewing anti-Jew and Israel propaganda – than serving his constituency as a Provincial Secretary of COSATU.

He also claims he is not anti-semitic? Then why is he only targeting Israel and Jews. Why does he not condemn Hamas and its firing of rockets onto Israeli civilians – including women and children? Why has he been silent on the atrocities that are on-going in Syria and Iraq where mass genocide is being carried out?

As a public figure, Ehrenreich needs be responsible when making public remarks. There is a fine line between free speech and hate speech and, in my view, he has crossed this line. This is a crime under our constitution – a document for which we struggled so much for and which Ehrenreich clearly has no problem disparaging. Instead of trying to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians, he has abused his position of power by stoking the flames of hatred and calling for the innocent killings of South Africans. Under no circumstances can that be considered acceptable.

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