Andile Mngxitama, the leader of the South African “Black First Land First” Party, a revolutionary Socialist and pan-African group, has drawn criticism for a disgusting tweet in which he makes light of the Holocaust.
In the tweet he says “for those claiming the legacy of the holocaust is ONLY negative think about the lampshades and Jewish soap”, referencing the fact that household products were manufactured from the remains of the murdered Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Wendy Kahn, the Director of the South African Board of Jewish Deputies, released a statement criticising the tweet:
“With this ugly‚ jeering remark‚ Mngxitama has portrayed not just the deliberate murder of Jewish people but even the supposed reduction of their remains to everyday objects as something to be treated as a joke. “It is deeply distressing that anyone could so casually and publicly dehumanise an entire people in this way. How much more outrageous it is when emanating from a public figure who heads up a political voice.”
Dishearteningly, Mngxitama didn’t even bother to apologise for the tweet, instead stating that he was successful in his aim to expose the systematic anti-blackness of the white community, including the Jewish people. They don’t care for the oppression of black people and so they are deeply unethical and evil”.
What, if anything, such a tweet does to expose any racism other than Mngxitama’s own virulent antisemitism escapes us. Describing Jews collectively as “deeply unethical and evil” is so obviously antisemitic that it needs no further explanation. However, beyond this, the fact that he describes Jews as “white” is also distasteful. Whilst some Ashkenazim consider themselves white, to flat out describe Jews as white erases hundreds of years of Jewish suffering at the hands of white Europeans. What is perhaps even more inflammatory is the attempt to exploit the memory of the Holocaust in order to defame Jews as not caring about other forms of oppression. It appears that this left wing figure advocating for racial justice doesn’t believe that this racial justice should extend to Jews.