Zio(nist) Hunting in South Africa

Maureen Jansen, a South African lawyer, reportedly posted on her Facebook page this week that the “Bloody Israelis should be exterminated along with all the ‘Jews’ everywhere who support Israel by action or silence.” Being a Jewish, South African lawyer and a member of the South African Law Society, Jansen’s words have been particularly painful for me. And if this isn’t enough Jansen went further: “I have a new hobby – Zio (Zionists) hunting...”
Funnily enough, I received a suspicious enquiry by email regarding legal work, about two weeks ago. It was a strange request since the person making it did not mention any details regarding the work they wished to refer to me nor did they state who was kind enough to pass my name along. Oh and there was the fee, thingy. Clients always want to know what discount they will receive. But I digress.
According to Spotlighting, an organisation which monitors and counters anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric in South Africa, it became aware of Jansen’s sentiments as a result of her postings on her Facebook page and in a number of social media groups.
As a spokesperson for Spotlighting correctly pointed out: “Social media has provided a type of ‘free for all’ atmosphere for vicious racism, incitement, hate speech and anti-Semitism.” There is no shortage of websites, social media pages, profiles and organisations distributing hate filled anti-Jewish and anti-Israel content. And whilst these are allowed to proliferate despite their ‘not violating Facebook standards’ (an oft quoted phrase provided by the social media website for failing to take down a particularly vitriolic group), the views they encourage are emboldened everyday in every country in the world.
Jansen, as an attorney, should be well versed in South Africa’s constitution which takes particular issue and offence against racism given South Africa’s dark history. Her statements are also in direct violation of Section 10 of ‘The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination’ Act 4 of 2000. Whilst I am aware of many of the lawyer jokes out there, there are some of us who actually believe in democratic values and Human Rights. Neither Jansen’s chosen profession nor the necessity or essential nature of free speech, can account for her ugly behaviour and unacceptable statements.
Many outraged South Africans have expressed their disgust by reporting Jansen’s behaviour to the Cape Law Society which oversees the attorneys practising within their provincial district. Members of the South African public have been encouraged to continue to report Jansen’s behaviour as that which is unbecoming of a member of the legal profession and also to call on activists to report Jansen’s behaviour to the South African Human Rights Commission.
As one outraged commentator on Spotlighting’s expose of Jansen’s statements put it: “It is blatantly clear that she has absolutely no connection to any standards of reason and civility (which are two necessary precepts in the application of the law). For this reason alone, she (Jansen) should be struck off the role of practising lawyers.”