South African Jews Moved by Heartfelt Apology From Former Student Leader Who Declared, ‘I Love Hitler’
South African Jewish leaders have welcomed a “truly remorseful” public apology from a former student activist who caused outrage in 2015 by declaring “I love Hitler” and calling Jews “devils.”
Mcebo Dlamini — who in 2015 served as chair of the Student Representative Council at the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg — laid out his apology in a two-page open letter addressed to the “Jewish community.”
Dlamini’s original offense involved a Facebook post titled “I love Hitler,” which he then defended by saying that the German dictator managed to “uplift the spirit of the German people,” as well as praising his “organizational skills.”
“What puzzles me is that people make the Jewish Holocaust … to be worse than the black apartheid,” he stated.
In a subsequent radio interview that brought about a law suit from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), Dlamini opined that Jews were “devils…good for nothing…They are uncircumcised in heart.”
In his letter, Dlamini acknowledged that, in 2015, he had “uttered statements about Jews and Israelis that were not only provocative but also extremely offensive.”
“It is only in retrospect that I began to appreciate how much my statements were both ill-advised and to a certain extent dangerous because they ignored the kind of trauma that they caused,” he wrote.
Dlamini said that he had “met with various people both inside and outside the Jewish community who have helped understand how serious my transgression was. I have also been made aware that my statements were antisemitic, which is a form of racism.”
He declared: “As someone who grew up in South Africa and was/still is affected by the vestiges of apartheid I should have been more sensitive to that.”
Dlamini said that he was now “committed to engage literature that will assist me in learning about the history of Jewish and Israeli people to understand deeply why my sentiments were offensive.”
He added that “once I have enough resources, I want to travel to Israel so that I understand their culture, tradition, belonging and how their present is shaped by their past.”
SAJBD Vice President Zev Krengel warmly praised Dlamini for his self-reflection and candor.
“The sincerity with which he acknowledged the hurt that he caused our community was palpable,” Krengel said in a statement. “This understanding prompted him to make an unequivocal apology. His recognition that the statements were antisemitic, hurtful and offensive, together with his genuine apology, enables us to heal from the hurt he caused.”
Krengel emphasized that it was “important for us as a community, and as South Africans, to identify when genuine remorse is expressed. ”
“It is equally important for us to accept a sincere apology of this nature as it enables us to move forward,” he added.