BDS South Africa posts antisemitic cartoon in response to peace plan

SA Jewish Board: Label of ‘kosher cheese’ in cartoon leaves no doubt it targets Jewish people

Protestors call for the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel during a march in Cape Town, South Africa. (photo credit: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS)
Protestors call for the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel during a march in Cape Town, South Africa.
(photo credit: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS)
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has slammed the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement in South Africa (BDS SA) “for using political events to demonize and incite hatred” against Jews.
Last week, BDS SA posted a cartoon on its Facebook page in response to US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” announcement.
The cartoon depicts the plan as a piece of Swiss cheese with Israelis, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, drawn with rat-like facial features. Several also have noticeable rat tails as they “chomp” through the cheese, while other caricatures, wearing kippot, also have large noses.
They bring to mind stereotypical features and antisemitic tropes of how Jews were depicted as vermin by the Nazi’s prior to and during the Holocaust.
A sign reading “Kosher Cheese” is also placed on the cheese, making the intentions about the cartoon clear.
The SAJBD said this “clearly crosses the line between legitimate political comment and blatant incitement to hatred on the basis of religion.”
“The label of ‘kosher cheese’ in the cartoon leaves no doubt that this cartoon targets Jewish people,” it said in a statement over the weekend. “The stereotypical depiction of Jews as rats and therefore vermin that should be exterminated is a classical Nazi trope.”
“This kind of dehumanization has led to genocides in the past, such as the labeling of Tutsi people in Rwanda as ‘cockroaches,’ the SAJBD said.
“The Jews, illustrated as rats, are further depicted with the traditionally antisemitic image of Jews with large, hooked noses,” it said.
This is not the first such incident to occur, the SAJBD said, adding that BDS’s use of antisemitic imagery “is a repeated pattern.”
In December 2018, following the outcome of an ongoing hate-speech case against Congress of South African Trade Unions member Bongani Masuku, “BDS [SA] compared the South African Jewish Community to the hook-nosed miserly, greedy, Jew Shylock” from Shakespeare’s well-known play The Merchant of Venice.
“The SAJBD condemns in the strongest terms this blatant antisemitism. There should be no question that the BDS motives are not political but rather hateful,” it said.
According to the Anadolu news agency, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela, who has been an outspoken and stalwart member of BDS South Africa, called Trump’s plan a “great hoax.”
“We reject the partisan peace plan for the Middle East proffered by Trump and Netanyahu,” he said. “This deal of the century is nothing but the greatest hoax of the century purely designed to legitimize the seven decades of illegal occupation of Palestinian lands... It is further designed to justify the continued illegal occupation and expansion of Apartheid Israel settlements.”
The South African government said it noted the US peace plan “aimed at resolving the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict” but did not reject the plan outright.
On Friday, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said: “South Africa believes that it is only initiatives developed with the full participation of the people of Palestine that can achieve lasting peace and remains consistent in its view that genuine inclusive, open dialogue can resolve the current impasse.”
It said that “processes begin through genuinely committed dialogue,” which are aimed at finding lasting solutions.
“South Africa continues to support international efforts aimed at the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, existing side by side in peace with Israel within internationally recognized borders, based on those existing on June 4, 1967, prior to the outbreak of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in line with all relevant UN resolutions, international law and internationally agreed parameters,” the DIRCO said.
South Africa’s principled position stressed “that any peace plan should not allow Palestinian statehood to devolve into an entity devoid of sovereignty, territorial contiguity and economic viability. Doing so would severely compound the failure of previous peace-making efforts, accelerate the demise of the two-state option and fatally damage the cause of durable peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike,” the DIRCO said.