The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has issued a statement, following what it says is a rise in anti-Semitic and threatening attacks made against South African Jews on social media and in person.
The statement comes after a passenger was filmed shouting verbal insults at fellow travellers at OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday morning.
In the video, the man is seen shouting and screaming "Jews are wicked". It was captured by passenger Dylan Rendel, who had just landed in Johannesburg from Tel Aviv, Israel.
Rendel said they had been waiting for their baggage when the man, who has not been identified, started hurling abuse.
"All was well and the next thing this man came up and started unleashing some vulgar verbal comments, making racist remarks and blatant anti-Semitic remarks against Jewish people," Rendel said.
"You people are wicked, Jews are very wicked people. Tell your government to change," the man is heard shouting in the video.
Rendel said it was disturbing to witness his abuse because visitors who were with their children were verbally attacked for no good reason.
Rendel added that, towards the end of the man's tirade, he said he had been denied access to Israel and had been sent back home.
"I can't confirm, but I think he was apparently in the same flight with us and was probably under guard on the aeroplane, because there was no violence or any problems on board. Only when we were waiting for our luggage, he started shouting," Rendel said.
Rendel said security officials from the airport only came to investigate at the end of the man's rant. He said a man from one of the airline counters had tried to calm him down, but with no success.
"No security guard came to stop the man for a good five to ten minutes. Only later, two police officers came and tried to speak to the guy and took him away," he said.
Rendel, who had just returned from a holiday to Israel, told News24 how upset and disappointed he was in what happened.
"We couldn’t believe it, because I mean, the world portrays Israel and Jews to be terrible people. We had just got back from the most incredible holiday in Israel. We were at the gay pride parade… People on the beach, having the most incredible calm and freedom. And then I come back home and for 10 minutes into our airports, this is what we encounter. It's very upsetting." he added.
The Airports Company of South Africa said it was aware of the incident.
Increase in incidents against Jews
The SAJBD said it was following up on various incidents, including the airport one, saying they had generated great anxiety and anger in the Jewish community.
SAJBD chairperson Shaun Zagnoev said a mural with a German flag - and a swastika placed on it -had appeared on Hamilton Street in Coronationville, Johannesburg, on Thursday.
He said it was unfortunately common to find anti-Semitic content online. However, he said it was rare for it to take "virulent and inflammatory a form, as with the latest reported comments".
"The posts show how easily radical anti-Israel sentiment can spill over into hateful slurs and threats against Jewish people in general. We are being told that we are 'scum', 'rat', 'bastards', 'pigs', 'swine' and 'fat-nosed f**ks'. We are further being warned that "our time is coming" and that "the Holocaust will be a picnic after we are done with you'," Zagnoev said.
He added that the incidents were not only attacks on the Jewish community, but on South Africa's democracy.
"Any minority group is protected by the Constitution, which protects our freedom of expression and association," he said.
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