The correspondence was triggered by a comment placed by Bongani on this blog. The comment read:
Bongani says hi to you all as we struggle to liberate Palestine from the racists, fascists and zionists who belong to the era of their Friend Hitler!
We must not apologise, every Zionist must be made to drink the bitter medicine they are feeding our broathers (sic) and sisters in Palestine. We must target them, expose them and doo allthat (sic) is needed to subject them to pereptual suffering until they withdraw from the land of others and stop their savage attacks on human dignity. Every Palestinian who suffers is a direct attck (sic) on all of us!
Following the posting of this comment Anthony Posner e-mailed Bongani in an attempt to understand the man behind this juvenile bigotry. Bongani replied that his comment was not much worse than a previous comment left on this blog by a racist Zionist. The comment in question was undoubtedly racist. It was posted just before Shabbat came in and was left on the blog until after Shabbat. That Saturday night, once I saw the offensive comment, I removed it. Before I had the chance to remove the comment, however, Mohammed Desai from Wits PSC emailed the comment to a PSC mailing group, of which Bongani was a member, and portrayed it as the standard racism emanating from Zionist blogs.
By the time Bongani found this blog, the racist comment had already been removed. Yet he still posted the above threatening comment. Desai’s circulation of the racist comment may have piqued Bongani’s interest, but it in no way helped formulate his opinion. Subsequent correspondence has revealed him for the unrepentantly blinkered and outrageously arrogant bigot that he is.
Since Bongani has repeatedly emailed his noxious opinions to us, I have decided to make it all public. The link at the bottom of this post will allow you to read all of the correspondence with Bongani that I have been involved in. Out of respect for the privacy of others, I have only included mine and Bongani's emails. Initially, I thought there was a certain soulful naiveté to Bongani, I even considered that he may be worth engaging on some (low intellectual) level. I later changed my mind. You can draw your own conclusions.
By the end of the correspondence Bongani was calling for the removal of almost all Jews from South Africa. As the International Relations secretary of Cosatu, which is a member of the ruling ANC's tripartite alliance, these views should concern us all. Bongani writes:
|In fact, all the people who deny that occupation is wrong must be encouraged to leave South Africa before they infect our society with much more racism.|
He followed this up by saying, in his enthusiastic verbage, that "no pro-Israel Jews should ever consider South Africa to be their home (sic)". These are surely views that need to be challenged in the mainstream media and perhaps at the South African Human Rights Commission.
Finally, the racist comment posted on IAS was as disgusting as anything Bongani said. This savage racism is not welcome here. I guess it’s the downside to having an open forum. Despite this type of abus of our comments, we continue to see the value in open, and often unmoderated, forums where important issues can be debated.
Also, credit to Anthony Posner, whose engaging wit resulted in Bongani falling further and further down his very own twisted hole.
Ben Cohen from Z-Word, copied in on almost all of the correspondence, has weighed in with some great analysis. Get it here: Cosatu, Antisemitism, and my Inbox
Also see this roundup of the current turbulent situation written by Alana Pugh-Jones and published on Divaid Hirsch's brilliant Engage Online: Hostility to Israel and antisemitism