Hate Crimes should be considered as both a priority crime, and be understood and reported on differently from other forms of crime, said Dr Juan Nel, at a Hate Crimes Working Group Media breakfast on 22 October.

The aim of the breakfast was to strengthen the media’s understanding of hate crimes, and the sensitivity around reporting on it.  What made hate crimes different from other criminal acts, explained Dr Nel, of the Hate Crimes Working Group, was the motivation for the attack:  Hate Crimes were motivated by prejudice, and the perpetrators seek to demean and dehumanise the victim based on the fact that the victim doesn’t conform to the ideas of the “norm”.  These can include the victim’s race, ethnicity, culture, appearance, age, religion or sexual orientation.

The reason they should be a priority was not because of its prevalence, but because the severity of the attack extends to the family, group and society at large.  These attacks were anti-democracy and anti-open society.  The fear with which victims live prevents them from living life to the full.  He and his colleague, Yolanda Mitchell, provided details on the legal attempts to delete crime and hate speech, as well as then news tool that have been developed to capture details of both victim and perpetrator.  This will aid in understanding the phenomenon better.

Dr Nel noted that hate crimes are preceded by hate speech.   In her presentation, Wendy Kahn, the National Director of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies gave concrete examples of some of the hate speech made through social media, against the SA Jewish Community.  She joked that it should be referred to as “anti-social” media, due to the viciousness of the attacks that can be now made anonymously.  Lucinda van der Heever from Sonke Gender Justice gave a practical example of a hate crime that occurred against a young David Olyn, a young gay man in Cape Town among a coloured community.  Olyn was viciously raped and murdered.

The media were encouraged to ask questions of the various partners that were there.  The breakfast was hosted by Sonke Gender Justice and was funded by the Open Society for South Africa.



Above Board: Mary Kluk comments

by SAJBD on 22 October 2014

in General

 Seeing the Jacarandas in bloom in my recent visit to Pretoria reminded me of my own student days, when the appearance of those purple blossoms served as a warning that the examinations period was upon us, and that if one had not already done the necessary preparation, it was probably too late. The month of Tishrei, with all its Yamim Tovim, usually coincides with the UNISA examinations, and inevitably this results in instances where exams are scheduled on the chagim. The Board has worked closely with the university over the years in dealing with such cases, and earlier this year we were delighted to arrive at what will hopefully be a permanent, long-term solution. According to this, religiously observant Jewish students write their papers immediately after the holiday in question under our auspices at Beyachad, now designates as an official UNISA exam venue. Invigilators are provided for by the university and paid for by the Board, which also is responsible for ascertaining that the students are indeed strictly Shomer Shabbat and, through the Beth Din, formally commit themselves to respecting the integrity of the examinations process. This system, as in past years, was followed again this time round, with several dozen students writing their papers on the Motzai Shabbat following Succot and Shemini Atzeret. We greatly appreciate the willingness of UNISA, and where required other universities, to accommodate us in this way. Currently, we are experiencing problems with the University of Johannesburg, where some exams are set on Shabbat, but hopefully it will be possible to reach an acceptable accommodation for next year and thereafter.

Examinations will currently be very much on the minds of hundreds of senior Jewish school learners around the country as they go about writing their matric papers. I wish all of them every success, and hope that the efforts they have put in will be crowned by deserved success. Afterwards, we expect many such youngsters to flock to the coast for the traditional post-matric ‘rage’. We in Durban look forward to this, but as ever, I urge our young visitors not to get carried away by the heady feeling of recently attained freedom, but at all times to act responsibly and avoid putting themselves at risk.

For various reasons, the need to maintain a high level of communal security over the chagim was of particular concern this year. Our CSO throughout the country truly did an outstanding job in this regard, devoting countless hours around the clock to ensuring that our shuls and other installations were protected and to this end working closely with the leadership, the security establishment and the community at large. On behalf of the community, I warmly commend and thank them for this, as well as for everything else they do on our behalf throughout the year.

The conclusion of the long religious festival period usually heralds the onset of a ‘coming down’ phase, but this weekend the high we have experienced will be prolonged through the holding of the second ‘Shabbat Project’. All those involved in last year’s inaugural project will remember what an inspiring success it was year. Remarkably, it has resulted in our relatively small community becoming international trailblazers, since this year our counterparts in dozens of cities around the world will be following our example. Once again, we congratulate Chief Rabbi Goldstein and his team for introducing and following through with this wonderful initiative.

  •  Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00-13:00.







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