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September 5, 2017 2:16 pm

As University of Cape Town Debates Israel Boycott, South African Pro-BDS Leader Faces Legal Action Over ‘Jewish Soap’ Holocaust Tweet

avatar by Ben Cohen

BLF leader Andile Mngxitama is facing legal proceedings over a series of antisemitic tweets. Photo: Twitter.

The leader of a black nationalist organization in South Africa with close ties to the BDS movement is facing legal charges over a virulently antisemitic social media post.

On Monday, South Africa’s Jewish Board of Deputies (BoD) announced it was launching legal proceedings against Andile Mngxitama‚ the leader of the radical Black Land Black First (BLF) movement, over an August 23 tweet in which he remarked, “For those claiming the legacy of the holocaust is ONLY negative think about the lampshades and Jewish soap.”

Mngxitama later sent out a further tweet referring to “the aroma of the burning flesh from the furnace of the holocaust may wet [sic] the appetite of the SA cannibals.”

Announcing its decision to take Mngxitama to South Africa’s Equality Court — which adjudicates on matters including discrimination and hate speech — the BoD said his comments‚ “in addition to the distress they have caused to the Jewish community‚ have been greeted with widespread outrage throughout South African society.”

The statement continued: “The SAJBD has, therefore, decided to approach the Equality Court to vindicate the violation of our rights to dignity and to prevent comments such as these from being made in the future.”

Mngxitama reacted to the announcement with a series of tweets indicating his willingness to see the SAJBD in court, adding that he saw himself as a “victim” who was now being turned into a “perpetrator.”

Mngxitama’s BLF organization is rooted in South Africa’s Black Consciousness Movement of the 1970s. Bitterly opposed to the ruling ANC, the BLF demands the “immediate expropriation without compensation” of land owned by South African whites, and its redistribution to blacks “as the rightful owners of this country.” Mngxitama himself is known for his clashes with the law, only last month violating a court order when he tried to enter a media event in Cape Town connected with the ANC. Supporters of the BLF are also reported to have harassed and intimidated journalists who cover the group’s activities critically.

The proceedings against Mngxitama come against the background of a new push inside the University of Cape Town (UCT) — one of the premier educational institutions in Africa — to impose a full academic boycott of Israeli academics and institutions of higher education. Among the groups prominently backing the boycott is the UCT chapter of Mngxitama’s BLF.

Following last week’s reporting of the proposed UCT boycott and its potential to run afoul of US laws to counter boycotts of American allies such as Israel, supporters of the move hit back with an opinion piece in the Sunday Argus newspaper.

“Not for the first time in UCT’s recent past, the university is facing a dilemma,” the article declared. “Whether to capitulate to the groans of the South African Zionist community, or whether to promote the human rights and academic freedom of Palestinians by implementing an academic boycott of Israel.”

The article then went on to add that any conflation of anti-Zionism with antisemitism was “worn-out propaganda that only still has traction in the minds of a few regressive Zionists.”

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