Facebook
The offensive Facebook post. Photo by Screenshot
Text size
related tags

The African National Congress, South Africa's ruling party, has come under unprecedented criticism from the country's Jewish community for declining to disown an anti-Semitic Facebook post by one of its volunteers.

The post, which appeared on the personal Facebook page of Rene Smit, an ANC social media manager in Western Cape province, featured a picture of Hitler and the words, "Yes, man, you were right!" Underneath the picture she wrote, "I could have killed all the Jews, but I left some of them to tell you why I was killing them."

Smit was quoted by South Africa's TimesLive website as saying that she shared the post as part of the "outpour of protest against the Israeli killing of innocent babies and women in the Gaza Strip."

She added that she had "remorsefully removed it immediately once I became aware that it is inappropriate and offensive."

SAJR Online, a website representing the local Jewish community, said that ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe refused to take responsibility for the post during an interview, saying that Smit had posted on her own Facebook page and that the ANC, as an organization of diverse views, allows its members to post their views in their personal space.

SAJR Online described the relations between the community and the ANC having "hit an all-time low after two explosive events in as many days."

Last week, ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte caused an uproar when she compared Israel's attacks on Gaza to the atrocities of Nazi Germany.

The Jewish Board of Deputies, the representative body of South African Jewry, described Duarte's statement as "venomous and insulting" and said it was considering taking Duarte to court.

“We have written to ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe on [the Facebook post] and also the very offensive Holocaust remarks made by Ms Jesse Duarte in an ANC statement last week,” said the Board in a media statement on Monday.

The opposition Democratic Alliance also condemned Smit and demanded that she and the ANC apologise, the Guardian reported.

The party's national spokesperson, Marius Redelinghuys, said: "The post is not only anti-Semitic and hate speech, but can also be construed as an incitement to violence and is an insensitive insult to victims and survivors of the Holocaust."

"The ANC must distance itself from this post," Redelinghuys added. "Smit and the ANC must apologise unconditionally for these remarks that make light of a great human tragedy."