COSATU, the ground-breaking non-racial trade union federation in South Africa is sliding easily into antisemitism. In the 1980s COSATU stood for working class solidarity and for opposition to oppression – and some currents in COSATU were also finding their way towards an alternative to the bland one-nation populsim of the ANC. Now the political clarity and the egalitarian energy for which it was known in socialist and trade union circles throughout the world is in danger of decaying into a vulgar Stalinist variant of the socialism of fools.
Bongani Masuku, the international relations secretary of COSATU, has been employing ever more threatening rhetoric against those Jews in South Africa who resist the pressure to define themselves as antizionist:
“You can leave this country. We will defeat the racists”
“I don’t care whether it is antisemitic”
“Anyone who handles goods to or from Israel…Beware!” “Your life will be hell”.
COSATU needs urgently to dump this worldview which demonizes Jews. It needs instead to re-find a way of fighting for the politics of peace, antiracism and reconciliation.
It needs urgently to dump Bongani Masuku too, and explicitly to distance itself from him.